Q: I’ve been hearing a lot about how important it is for a resume to lead with information about what you can do for an employer. How does that work?
A: Yes, it’s true. A resume – like most anything else – is most engaging when you start strong. One of the best ways to do that is to firmly plant yourself as an achiever in the reader’s mind. Compel them to read more.
That being the goal, Objective Statements are – for the most part – a bad idea because they don’t allow you to get out of “I want” mode. As nice as it is to know that a candidate has a firm grasp on her goals, it should be assumed that she wants the kind of role she is applying for.
As is the case with a References section, an Objective Statement takes up valuable space on a resume.
Use the opening of your resume to clearly communicate what you bring to the table and what you can do for an employer. In many situations, it’s best to speak to your track record. Since most resume reviewers and interviewers are trained to believe (correctly) that past behavior is a great predictor of future performance, this is a smart approach.
Don’t, however, make the mistake of being too wordy and don’t make the bigger mistake of assuming too much knowledge about the position you are applying for. Many candidates know that it’s effective to have a strong lead-in. They take it too far, though, by making impossible assumptions regarding what they’ll accomplish within the position. This is a turn-off off for recruiters and hiring managers because it’s unrealistically aggressive.