Artwork by: Lizabeth Zaft
The introduction on your resume is the gateway into your story. Want to know how to create the best introduction for your resume? We’ll tell you!
Writing your resume can be hard. It’s probably not something you do every day, and the hardest part can be getting started. So, where to begin? All the best resumes start with an introduction. But how do you create an impactful introduction for your resume? Are there different ways to write them? Never fear, we’re here to help. We’ll give you some great advice on how to start your resume by answering the following questions:
Why is a resume introduction important?
How to select the best resume introduction format
3 tips for creating your resume introduction
Just like any good story, you must have a strong opening. If you don’t get the reader’s attention right away, then they probably won’t keep reading. Your resume is the same way. Your opening statement or introduction must be interesting and relevant to your potential employer.
Taking the time to come up with a clever and well-written introduction for your resume is definitely worth it. You’ll only have one chance to make a good impression, and your resume is usually the first thing that your potential new employer will see about you. It can make or break your opportunity to get to the interview stage. A bad resume introduction may cause them to toss your resume in the trash. Here are some tips to ensure they keep reading:
Keep it short, but impactful. Obviously, writing your resume isn’t exactly like a story. For one thing, you have to get your resume onto one or two pages. Even a short story is much longer than that. So, creating a riveting resume introduction is even more difficult than writing the beginning of a story. Your resume is the story of your career.
Put your best abilities out front. The resume introduction is not just your only chance to captivate the reader, it’s also your first chance to get your best skills and achievements fixed in their mind. A great movie trailer is going to include snippets of the best parts of the film. You should do the same thing with your resume introduction. Don’t save your greatest stuff for later in the resume. Hit them with your best shot right away!
Give them a preview. The other important thing a resume introduction does is to provide a quick summary of your resume. Remember that most recruiters and hiring managers will only spend seconds looking at a resume before saving it or discarding it. The goal of your introduction is to get as much information about your outstanding abilities and knowledge in front of them in just a few sentences. Choose your words very carefully, and don’t use extra words or expound on anything. Be very specific and clear. The simpler it is, the better.
Now that you understand what a great resume introduction will do for you, let’s talk about the best way to structure your introduction. There are different approaches to creating a resume introduction. Which one you select depends on your background and experience level. Here are a few options:
This is the classic choice for someone that is mid-career and has a good amount of experience under their belt. It consists of a five to six line paragraph outlining the highlights of your career and your key qualifications. You’re going to include things like how long you have been in the industry or field, major projects you’ve worked on, significant accomplishments, and business targets achieved or exceeded. Put a few of your most impressive things here. It’s okay to repeat some things that you may already have in your professional experience section, just make sure they’re things you really want to showcase and match up well with the job you’re going for.
If you’re looking to keep your introduction really short, and you don’t have a lot of experience, then you may opt for using this format. It is a bulleted list of your skills, knowledge, and expertise. Use your best and most relevant abilities, know-how, and experiences. This goes for any of the introduction formats. Your number one goal is to get the reader’s attention and impress them.
This is a good format for someone with many years of experience and who is an expert in a particular area. It is a hybrid format that usually consists of a paragraph summary followed by a list of key skills. You can also include a few career achievements, mainly things you can put numbers to (quantifiable). Anything you can measure is going to have more impact than using vague terms like significant, very large, or major.
Any of the above formats can be effective. You can also mix and match them, to a certain extent. You can open with an introductory sentence, also called a headline or power statement, and then have a summary paragraph of a few sentences. Or, you may start with the headline and then switch to a summary of qualifications. Choose the setup that meets your needs and best portrays your value in the most impactful way possible. It’s all about selling yourself.
This may seem backward, since your introduction is at the beginning of your resume, but it’s actually a very logical approach. Since your introduction is a summary of your resume, you can’t really create it until you have written the rest of your resume.
Look for things in the job description that are the most important for the role. Do they mention the same thing more than once? Do they have very specific skills, certifications, or education they require? Make note of these items and include them in your introduction. This takes us back to our first tip, once you have adjusted all sections of your resume to be a perfect match for the job, then you can revise your introduction to include your best assets and the ones that are most crucial for the role.
Don’t use the same resume for every job.
Most people write one resume and use it for every job opening they apply for. For just about any job, even for entry-level positions, there will be specific or unique skills and experience the employer is looking for. We always recommend that you customize your resume for each job you apply for.
Tailoring your resume will make it much more effective because recruiters and hiring managers read resumes all day, and they can spot generic, cookie-cutter resumes immediately. Read the job advertisement closely and highlight keywords and phrases related to skills and requirements that you have in your background. Then make sure to include these things in your resume.
The final tip we have is to do your best to make your resume introduction unique. If you’re proofreading your introduction, and it sounds like it could be for anyone in your field, then stop and rewrite it. Include things to make it your own. If you can’t come up with anything in your professional background that seems unique, then throw in something personal. Maybe you have an interest, hobby, or volunteer experience that is interesting. It’s okay to include something about this as long as it is short and relevant to the role. Remember, your introduction has to grab their attention.
Need help getting started with your resume? Try our resume builder tool!
Your resume introduction is like a movie preview for your resume. If your preview is no good, then no one is going to watch your movie.
Put your best foot forward. Make sure to include your most shiny and impressive expertise and accomplishments in the intro.
Use a format that suits your background. With less experience, focus on your skills. With more experience, highlight your accomplishments.
Keep it short. No more than a few sentences. Make every word count.
Be unique and memorable. You’ve got to get and hold their interest.
Garland is a writer and technology consultant that lives in far west Texas, USA. He is semi-retired from a successful 25-year career in the Information Technology industry, and now spends his time writing for various websites (mostly career development related). Garland holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance, and a master’s degree in Economics and Computer Information Systems.