There is really no right or wrong way to write a resume especially since every candidate is different. Your experience may be more skills-based than achievement-based. You may need to highlight your education more than someone with more than 15 years of relevant experience. The one thing every resume should have no matter what your background looks like is a phenomenal introduction.
The average employer only spends an average of 7-15 seconds scanning your resume before deciding if it's worth reading. Think about it this way: You only have maybe 15 seconds to tell an employer why you are the best person for the job. There are several resume writing tactics that help your resume pass the 15-second test such as balancing the white-space, using bullets, selecting easy to read fonts, and so on. How your resume looks is important, but what your resume says is vital.
How Not To Start Your Resume
Resume trends have drastically changed over the last ten years. A resume used to start with an Objective statement. Objective statements are rather self-serving and don't tell an employer much about you other than your purpose in applying. Below are a few examples of objective statements:
If you were hiring a new employee, would any of these statements solve your problem? That's just it, an employer is looking for someone who will solve his or her problem. So then how can you better say, "Hey! I can solve your problem!"?
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Summary of Qualifications
One tactic jobhunters can use is to start a resume with a Highlights of Qualifications section. This typically looks like a brief summary of your professional background with bullets highlighting technical skills, soft skills, and contributions you've made to previous employers. Here's an example of a Highlights of Qualifications section:
Accomplished Finance professional with solid and progressive experience within Auto Finance and Risk Weight Asset Capital Stress Testing. Detail-oriented leader collaborating with tactical teams and offering:
Expertise in the analysis of financial data, forecast of future risks, and profitability improvement within investment banking and financial services environments.
Skill in analysis and problem solving resulting in process improvements and driving positive impacts within operational management.
Bilingual proficiency with excellent interpersonal skills to foster and fortify partnerships with executive stakeholders and internal teams.
Strong computer skills including PC operating systems and Microsoft Office Suite including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.
While a Summary of Qualifications section gives more color to a candidate, it's still lacking. An employer can see that yes, this candidate can get the job done; but does this candidate really solve his or her problem?
As a Professional Resume Writer, I have seen great success in the application of a Career Summary especially when matched with a Core Competencies or Key Skills section. A Career Summary answers the questions: Who am I as a professional, what are my most valuable skills that are relevant to this position, and how will I benefit the company over another candidate? This not only tells an employer that you're qualified but that you will make contributions leading to the success of the company.
The following Career Summaries answer these questions in a 4-6 line paragraph at the top of the resume:
These are typically in paragraph form followed by a Core Competencies or Key Skills section which should be an easily scanned list. The list can be separated into multiple columns with bullets or a list block separated by symbols such as a vertical line or em-dash. This section should identify technical skills and soft skills that match keywords in a job description for the position you are applying for to be most effective.
This tactic gives employers a quick description of you as a candidate and ultimately, if done effectively, will provoke the reader to continue and give you a fighting chance against the competition. Good luck in your jobhunt!