The Two Most Important Features of Your Resume

The Most Important Feature of Your Resume

Employers' number one complaint about entry level resumes is the lack of a specific objective. This is by far the most important feature of an entry level resume. Without it, you are destined to languish in the sea of mediocrity, swallowed up by your own lack of direction. I do not mean the wishy-washy "Position with a progressive organization that will fully utilize my talents and skills…" objective that tells me absolutely nothing about what you are looking for in your job search. Your objective has to be clear and concise. If someone tells you not to include an Objective section on your resume because it is too limiting, that person is obviously out of touch with the reality of the entry level job market. If you are not specific and direct, you lose.

The key to writing a successful objective is focus. Remember putting together your personal mission statement? This personal mission statement is the basis for putting together a successful resume objective. But instead of using the flowery language of the broader career mission statement, you will be focusing specifically on what type of position you are seeking at the entry level. You can restrict your objective by any or all of the following three areas:

  1. Job type (such as Accountant, Electrical Engineer, Software Engineer, etc.)
  2. Industry (such as Retail, Banking, Insurance, Technology, etc.)
  3. Geographical area (such as Pacific Northwest, Oregon, Portland area, etc.)


  • Staff accountant position in the public accounting field in the Atlanta area.
  • Retail management position in the New York City metropolitan area.
  • Reporter position with a major news daily. Open to relocation.
  • Marketing position with a computer software vendor in the Chicago area.
  • Electrical engineering position in the silicon chip industry in Northern California.
  • Multimedia software development position. Open to travel and/or relocation.

Note that a well-written and well-focused Objective section is often what sets you apart when your resume is compared to those with no objective or one that is wishy-washy.

The Second Most Important Feature of Your Resume

What's next most important? The section that is almost always missing on entry level resumes: the Summary section. This section immediately follows the Objective section of the resume and is composed of "sound bites" of who you are. It provides the high-level support for the objective and draws the reader into the remainder of the resume, which provides further detailed support (Education, Experience, Activities, etc.). This section is crucial in the "high-speed resume review" world in which we live. Make sure it is there and bulleted with three or four one-liners about who you are and results achieved.

Example summary for a Business Administration major:

  • More than two years' experience in life and property/casualty insurance
  • Management internship with Northwestern Mutual
  • Magna Cum Laude graduate with BA in Business Administration

Example summary for an Education major:

  • Teacher certification for Elementary Education
  • Magna Cum Laude graduate with BA in Elementary Education
  • Completed Student Teaching with Baltimore Public School System

Example summary for a Mechanical Engineering major:

  • Mechanical engineering internship with Ford Motors
  • Mechanical maintenance experience with a variety of automobiles
  • Magna Cum Laude graduate with BS in Mechanical Engineering