How to Start a Resume (4+ Examples)
Wondering how to start a resume? And what’s the best way to start it? Is there certain information that should be at the top of the resume versus further down the page? There’s a lot of questions that you might have when trying to design and build your new resume.
You’re in luck because this guide is going to show you the following insights regarding your resume introduction:
- What do most people confuse starting their resume with and what you should start your resume with instead.
- Methods for starting your resume and ensuring that you begin yours with the right statements.
- Learning what resume summaries or resume statements are and how to design yours.
Ready? Let’s go ahead and jump into it!
How Most People Start Their Resume
This is one of the most important insights that you’ll receive from this guide. Most people start their resume with their education. That’s wrong. Don’t do that.
Employers do care about your prior education, but it isn’t going to be what gets you a job. Think about it; if you were employing someone, you would want to know that they have prior experience with the job they are applying for. Or even prior work experience of any kind.
This is why work experience is one of the best sections to include higher up in your resume. In fact, your contact information and your prior experience are the sections that your interviewer, HR manager, or HR representative cares about as well.
This common mistake makes sense because you had your education before you had your work experience. And when writing your resume, you think about where you started.
But try to think about what the employer wants to see first.
Options for Starting Your Resume
There are a few options when thinking about how to start your resume. The two best options are to start your resume with a resume statement or resume summary. The second is to start your resume with your prior work experience.
So how do you decide?
The first thing to think about is whether you have prior experience. Did you graduate? Or did you only have one internship program? If so, then your prior work experience isn’t going to be as impactful as others. In which case, you should pick a resume summary to start your resume instead (we’ll get into what a resume summary is in a moment).
If you do have many prior jobs that apply to the job you’re applying for, then start your resume with prior experience. Even with a resume summary, it will be the first thing that all HR representatives look at. So it makes sense to give it to them at the top of the page!
That’s how you’ll be able to decide which section is best to start with, your prior experience.
So, now that you know how to decide which section to start your resume with, your next question might be, “What is a resume summary?”
Let’s jump into that.
What Is a Resume Summary and How to Write Yours
If you’ve decided to start your resume with a resume summary or resume statement, then that’s a great choice. A resume summary is a quick 2-3 sentence statement that explains why you are a unique and qualified candidate for the position.
Try to avoid asking for the job or begging for the job in the resume summary. Instead, you want to explain prior achievements in a short paragraph that makes you desirable as a byproduct.
Here are a few examples of great resume summaries to get an idea of what I’m talking about.
A resume summary example
“Driven student of economics with a high GPA, ability to execute, a passion of the finance industry, captain of the La Croix team and economics club president.”
“Experience across a wide variety of functional areas, devoted team player who utilizes empathy to help guide decision-making in the workforce. Cares about collaboration and meeting customer expectations.”
“Experienced digital creative, passion for well-designed products, multi-disciplinary player/coach, experience in a variety of product types (B2C, B2B, B2B2C).”
As you can see from these statements, you can encapsulate your prior work experience as well as where you can project yourself being in the future. This is a great way to connect with the reader.
So how do you write yours? When thinking about writing your resume statement, think about your prior work achievements. They don’t have to be from the same position. Just think back to your highest achievements. And then some things that make you unique, special, or highly qualified for the position you’re applying for.
And if you don’t know what’s required out of a job. Then pull open the job description. It will usually contain some insights that you can use to compare against the ideas you’re generating for your own resume summary.
From here, you should have a good idea of what to write. Remember, keep your resume statement in a single paragraph. You don’t want it to distract from the rest of your resume.
Is a Resume Summary and Objective the Same?
Generally speaking, they are the same. However, an objective might contain what you hope to achieve after being employed. And this can be beneficial in terms of your writing approach. But what’s more impactful is a synopsis of your prior work achievements.
Try to find a balance between a resume summary and resume objective to find the perfect statement.
How to Start a Resume (Starting With Work Experience)
If you decided that starting your resume with a statement isn’t the right solution for you, then you can start your resume with work experience.
Ideally, you should have a great list of prior work experiences with a healthy amount of accomplishments that are bulleted underneath each company name.
And if your prior work experience doesn’t contain accomplishments. Then you should consider altering that to being focused on the job function you played while employed. As well as what you were able to contribute or achieve while employed there.
It’s absolutely okay to move this section towards the top of the page.
Be sure that your prior work experiences are listed in terms of the most recent employment. This means that you list your first job towards the bottom of the page and your last job towards the page's top.
The other sections will then be sent lower on the one-page resume. Those other sections would be:
Those other sections should be quite small. And if anything, should be only listed if the job description requires it. For example, certifications. Ideally, you only list the certification that’s required on the job description. That would mean “CPR certification” or a daycare worker, for example.
When starting your resume with your work experience, it’s okay to prioritize the other sections lower in terms of your writing and focus. You might be wondering if it’s going to hurt your chances of getting employed. Especially if the other sections of your resume are lower on the page or don’t contain all of your education or awards. It won’t. Remember, employers, care most about prior work experience.
Why is This Effective
The reason why this is an effective way to organize your cover letter is that recruiters, hiring managers, HR representatives, and other team members often scan resumes. They don’t read the resume in full.
While doing that, their eye naturally goes to certain sections. For example, when they scan your prior work experience, they might be thinking of questions to ask you in upcoming interviews.
This is how someone reads a resume.
And if your resume has a lot of imagery part of it. Or is more flashy than it is clear. It might impact the amount of text that you’ll be able to fit on the page. Be sure that you pick a resume template that’s minimal and focuses on typography as a way to stand out. That will ensure that you have the most space to work with.
What If I Put My Awards at the Top of the Resume
Whatever you do, don’t do this. Don’t try to get fancy and think about standing out by having a unique resume. This is a common mistake. And it won’t make you stand out.
What that will do is show your employer that you don’t have prior work experience. And can’t empathize or understand what’s important to others when evaluating an employee.
The best thing you can do to stand out is by utilizing the two methods above. Using a resume summary or objective. Or using your prior work experience as your starting point.
Now that you have a good understanding of how to start your resume, here are some helpful reminders before you begin your journey.
- Don’t try to get fancy with your resume; focus on a resume objective or prior work experience as part of your starting point. Avoid everything else as a way to start your resume.
- When thinking about crafting your resume objective or statement, consider your prior work achievements and the things you’d be proud to share with family or friends. Craft your prior achievements around the requirements for the job. If you don’t remember what those are, refer to the job description to give you some helpful insights.
- Don’t worry about not showing as many awards, certifications, merits, Latin honors or otherwise. It’s okay to prioritize these sections lower on your resume when you start with an objective or prior work experience.
Our favorite resources are included below.
Job interview resources
- Common Interview Questions by Marquette University
- Prepare for Behavioral Interview Questions by Marquette University
- Preparing for Job Interviews by the University of Kansas
- Mock Interview Handbook by CSUCI
- Interview Guidebook by Lebanon Valley College
Resume and cover letter resources
- Writing a Resume and Cover Letter by USC
- Resume Writing Tips by the University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Resume and Cover Letter Guide by Harvard University
Job search resources
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