How to Create an Effective Resume Focal Point
Every resume needs a focal point – a device (or set of devices) that instantly tells a hiring decision-maker what job or type of job the candidate seeks and what his or her top selling points are.
Multiple studies show the average time recruiters spend looking at a resume before they make the initial “fit/no fit” decision to be just seconds.
For many years, the objective statement served the purpose – often feebly – of providing a focal point for resumes.
Objectives, however, have been dead to employers for close to two decades – largely because they have tended to be poorly written and woefully vague, thus defeating the purpose of presenting an objective. Job seekers also often mistook the objective as an invitation to list everything wanted, needed, and desired from the sought-after job, instead of as an opportunity to describe potential contributions to the employer’s bottom line.
Before addressing the Resume Focal Point as the replacement for the objective statement, it’s important to understand that employers today expect resumes to be tailored to the targeted position. That means you do not send the same resume in response to each job you target; you tweak it to align with each job. You do not need to rewrite all of – or even most of – your resume for every job you apply for; but you do need to adjust it to show that you are a fit for any vacancy to which you send your resume.
How do you do that? In part, with a Resume Focal Point.
Typically, your Resume Focal Point will appear in the top third of the first page of your resume, where it will – within a few seconds – attract the attention of the hiring decision-maker and provide the crucial information about whether you fit the job opening. Two effective focal components – deployed separately or together – are the resume headline and resume branding statement.
This line atop your resume (right under your contact information) identifies the name of the job or type of job you seek. Responding to a specific job posting? Use the exact position title of the job as your headline. Networking or prospecting employers/recruiters where you’re not sure about specific openings? Use a headline that describes the type of job you seek as specifically as possible. Networking or prospecting but open to more than one kind of job? Have a resume with a headline for each type of job you’re
Considering, and use each resume version with its appropriate audience. You can also add keywords underneath the headline to add to its specificity, as in this example:
HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY EXECUTIVE
New Business Development Marketing/Strategic Planning
Resume Branding Statement as ‘Subhead’ to Resume Headline
To add punch and specificity to your headline, consider an accompanying branding statement, used as a subhead. This statement defines who you are, your promise of value, and why you should be sought out. A branding statement is a punchy “ad-like” statement that tells immediately what you can bring to an employer. Your branding statement should sum up your value proposition, encapsulate your reputation, showcase what sets you apart from others, and describe the added value you bring to a situation. Think of it as a sales pitch.
Consider integrating these elements into the brief synopsis that is your branding statement:
- What makes you different?
- What qualities or characteristics make you distinctive?
- What have you accomplished?
- What is your most noteworthy personal trait?
- What benefits (problems solved) do you offer?
Don’t be afraid to use the targeted employer’s name in your branding statement, for example: “Eager to lead innovative strategic marketing initiatives that aggressively increase Astra Zeneca’s market share, sustain growth, and maximize profitability.”
You can use a branding statement by itself, without a headline, though a headline will grab attention and instantly tell the employer where your talents lie.
Resume Headline in Combination with Branding Statement
Here are some examples:
VICE PRESIDENT, HEALTH CARE OPERATIONS
Specialize in raising the bar, creating strategy, managing risk, and improving the quality and caliber of care delivered through operations.
PHARMACEUTICAL SPECIALTY SALES REPRESENTATIVE
Eager to strengthen the mission of leading-edge pharmaceutical advancement.
KEY ACCOUNT MANAGER
Bringing a wealth and diversity of skills in management, education, and human relations and prepared to apply knowledge of medicine, science, and nutrition to enhance quality of life by promoting pharmaceutical products and services.
CLINICAL RESEARCH COORDINATOR
Skilled at independently developing and implementing research project-procedures that meet research objectives and ensure compliance with all regulatory aspects.
EXECUTIVE HOSPITAL/PHYSICIAN ADMINISTRATION/MANAGEMENT
Offer unique perspective as healthcare humanist who is also an entrepreneurial realist.