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Attributes to Consider Listing Front and Center on Your Resume


When I researched my book Top Notch Executive Resumes, I learned that many hiring decision-makers regard much of the content at the top of resumes — objective statements and profile/summary sections — to be unsubstantiated fluff that they don’t even read. Instead of flowery adjectives, the top of your resume needs hard and compelling facts, backed up with numbers when possible. Michael Howard of Alternative Resumes recently summarized attributes to consider for the top of your resume, also providing an example: The following attributes can help summarize who you are to a reader, and should be considered for the top of your resume:
  • Job function. What exactly do you do? Are you a well-rounded leader in nonprofit management? Or do you specialize in revenue development, volunteer management, event coordination, communications, administration, or something else?
  • Job level. Are you considered an executive or senior manager (in your industry’s opinion, not yours)? Or are you a middle or junior manager? Maybe an analyst or consultant?
  • Years of experience. How long have you worked in your chosen field? Do you have a record of quick advancement?
  • Industry. What industries or sectors have you worked in? What products and services do you have experience with? Remember to consider what is relevant to your targeted employers.
  • Specialty. Have you achieved noteworthy success in one or a few particular areas that are relevant to your job target?
  • Language skills. Fluency in multiple languages may be important enough to include in your summary.
  • Higher education. If you believe your advanced education may set you apart from most candidates, it may be worthwhile to highlight up top.
The following summary eliminates the long-winded hyperbole used in the previous example, and instead focuses on the candidate’s most relevant attributes:

  • Senior nonprofit leader with more than 20 years of progressive experience in the health and environment sectors, including 11 years as an executive director. Managed both established organizations and small start-ups, with annual budgets of up to $25M.
  • Provided leadership, guidance, and support to teams with up to 45 employees and 120 volunteers. Recruited and trained specialists in revenue development, volunteer coordination, event planning and management, and community relations.
  • Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management. Member of the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE) since 2000. Fully bilingual; fluent in both English and French.