The most precious piece of real estate in your entire resume is the top of the first page. At the cursory glance, this is the area that is going to get the most attention. And there are some things you can do to make the most of that – or get your resume tossed in the “not interested” pile.

Here is a quick checklist of things NOT to do when crafting the opening statement of your resume:

Don’t generalize. Focus, not generalization is critical. For example, say the VP of Sales for a Fortune 500 company gets ahold of your resume. He or she reads your opening statement which begins with, “Sales executive with 15 years of experience building teams and consensus, expanding territories, etc., etc… Ultimately, this tells the reader very little.

Ask yourself what questions the reader might have. I guarantee they are trying to come up with a framework of perspective about you that includes things like:

  • Do you have experience with regional, national or global sales?
  • How big are the teams you have managed?
  • What kind of companies have you called on and what is the dollar figure of the products or services you have represented?
  • Do you have any particular selling skills, such as conceptual selling, or academic credentials, like an MBA?

Using a combination of keywords and a brief opening statement, you can paint a picture (quickly) that satisfies (not frustrates) your reader.

Don’t write an opening statement over 6 lines deep. If you have Googled “executive resume writers” and viewed their samples, you might notice professional resumes are becoming more and more visually impactful and much less dense in text. This is because big blocks of text in your resume will seldom get read.

You must say what you wish to say directly, simply and briefly. Focus on the value you bring to the table. In other words, describe what happens when you do what you do as opposed to just providing an outline of your tasks and skills. After all, what does someone who reads your resume want to know? It sounds harsh, but the questions that are really being asked are, “What good are you to me?” and “Why should I be reading this?” Your focus on value demonstrates that you “get” that.

Don’t speak in first person or past tense. New graduate resumes, mid-level resumes and executive resumes all have one thing in common: they are written in implied first person. Don’t say, “I offer 5 years of social media marketing experience,” but, “Offering 5 years of social media marketing experience.”

BONUS TIP: Enhance your opening statement with keywords either above or below it. This is an easy way to help your reader understand your value. For example, a construction executive resume might say:

Commercial Construction | Healthcare & Academia | Teams to 400 | P&L to 500 Million