Resume Assertion Section

In the first part of your Resume, you make assertions about your abilities, qualities and achievements. You write powerful, but honest, advertising copy that makes the reader immediately perk up and realize that you are someone special. The assertions section usually has two or three sections. In all of them, your job is to communicate, assert and declare that you are the best possible candidate for the job and that you are hotter than a picnic on Mercury.

You start by naming your intended job. This may be in a separate Objective section, or may be folded into the second section, the Summary. If you are making a change to a new field, or are a young person not fully established in a career, start with a separate "Objective" section. The final part of the assertions section of your resume is Skills and Accomplishments.


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Ideally, your resume should be pointed toward conveying why you are the perfect candidate for one specific job or job title. Good advertising is directed towards a very specific target audience. When a car company is trying to sell their inexpensive compact to an older audience, they show grandpa and grandma stuffing the car with happy, shiny grandchildren and talk about how safe and economical the car is. When they advertise the exact same car to the youth market, they show it going around corners on two wheels, with plenty of drums and power chords thundering in the background. You want to focus your resume just as specifically.

Targeting your resume requires that you be absolutely clear about your career direction or, at least that you appear to be clear. The way to demonstrate your clarity of direction or apparent clarity is to have the first major topic of your resume be your OBJECTIVE. Let's look at a real world example. Suppose the owner of a small software company puts an ad in the paper seeking an experienced software sales person. A week later they have received 500 resumes. The applicants have a bewildering variety of backgrounds. The employer has no way of knowing whether any of them are really interested in selling software. They remember all the jobs they applied for that they didn't really want. They know that many of the resumes they received are from people who are just using a shotgun approach, casting their seed to the winds. Then, they come across a resume in the pile that starts with the following:"OBJECTIVE - a software sales position in an organization where an extraordinary record of generating new accounts, exceeding sales targets and enthusiastic customer relations would be needed.

This wakes them up. They are immediately interested. This first sentence conveys some very important and powerful messages: "I want exactly the job you are offering. I am a superior candidate because I have the qualities that are most important to you. I want to make a contribution to your company." This works well because the employer is smart enough to know that someone who wants to do exactly what you are offering will be much more likely to succeed than someone who doesn't. And, will probably be a lot more pleasant to work with as well. Secondly, this candidate has done a good job of establishing why they are the perfect candidate in their first sentence. They have thought about what qualities would make a candidate stand out. They have started communicating that they are that person immediately. What's more, they are communicating from the point of view of making a contribution to the employer. They are not writing from a self-centered point of view. Even when people are savvy enough to have an objective, they often make the mistake of saying something like, "a position where I can hone my skill as a scissors sharpener.." or something similar. The employer is interested in hiring you for what you can do for them, not for fulfilling your private goals and agenda.

Here's how to write your objective. First of all, decide on a specific job title for your objective. Go back to your list of answers to the question "How can I demonstrate that I am the perfect candidate?" What are the two or three qualities, abilities or achievements that would make a candidate stand out as truly exceptional for that specific job? The person in the above example recognized that the prospective employer, being a small, growing software company, would be very interested in candidates with an ability to generate new accounts. So, they made that the very first point they got across in their resume. Be sure the objective is to the point. Do not use fluffy phrases which are obvious or do not mean anything, such as: "allowing the ability to enhance potential and utilize experience in new challenges." An objective may be broad and still somewhat undefined in some cases, such as: "a mid-level management position in the hospitality or entertainment industry." Remember, your resume will only get a few seconds attention, at best! You have to generate interest right away, in the first sentence they lay their eyes on. Having an objective statement that really sizzles, is highly effective. And it's simple to do. One format is:OBJECTIVE: An xxx position in an organization where yyy and zzz would be needed.Xxx is the name of the position you seek. Yyy and zzz are the most compelling qualities, abilities or achievements that will really make you stand out above the crowd of applicants. The research you have previously done, to find out what is most important to the employer will provide the information to fill in yyy and zzz.

If you are not really sure what job you are after, you should adapt your resume to each type of job you apply for. There is nothing wrong with having several different resumes, each with a different objective, each specifically crafted for a different type of position. You may even want to change some parts of your resume for each job you apply for. Have an objective that is perfectly matched with the job you are applying for. Remember, you are writing advertising copy, not your life story.

You do not need to use a separate "Objective" section if you are looking for a job in your present field. You will include your "Objective" in your "Summary" section. The point of using an "Objective" is to create a specific psychological response in the mind of the reader. If you are making a career change or are a young person, you want the employer to immediately focus on where you are going, rather than where you have been. If you are looking for another job in your present field, it is more important to stress your qualities, achievements and abilities first.

A few examples of separate "Objective" sections:

  • Senior staff position with a bank that offers the opportunity to utilize my expertise in commercial real estate lending and strategic management.
  • An entry-level position in the hospitality industry where a background in advertising and public relations would be needed.
  • A position teaching English as a second language where a special ability to motivate and communicate effectively with students would be needed.

The "summary" or "summary of qualifications" consists of several concise statements that focus the reader's attention on the most important qualities, achievements and abilities you have to offer. Those qualities should be the most compelling demonstrations of why they should hire you instead of the other candidates. It gives you a brief opportunity to telegraph a few of your most sterling qualities. It is your one and only chance to attract and hold their attention, to get across what is most important, and to entice the employer to keep reading. This is the spiciest part of the resume. This may be the only section fully read by the employer, so it should be very strong and convincing. The summary is the one place to include professional characteristics (extremely energetic, a gift for solving complex problems in a fast-paced environment, a natural salesman, exceptional interpersonal skills, committed to excellence, etc.) which may be helpful in winning the interview. Gear every word in the summary to your targeted goal.

How to write a "Summary"? Go back to your lists that answer the question, What would make someone the ideal candidate? Look for the qualities the employer will care about most. Then look at what you wrote about why you are the perfect person to fill their need. Pick the stuff that best demonstrates why they should hire you. Assemble it into your summary section. The most common ingredients of a well-written summary are as follows. Of course, you would not use all these ingredients in one "Summary." Use the ones that highlight you best.

  1. A short phrase describing your profession
  2. Followed by a statement of broad or specialized expertise
  3. Followed by two or three additional statements related to any of the following:
    • Breadth or depth of skills
    • Unique mix of skills
    • Range of environments in which you have experience
    • A special or well-documented accomplishment
    • A history of awards, promotions, or superior performance commendations
  4. One or more professional or appropriate personal characteristics
  5. A sentence describing professional objective or interest.

Notice that the examples below show how to include your objective in the "summary" section. If you are making a career change, your summary section should show how what you have done in the past prepares you to do what you seek to do in the future. If you are a young person new to the job market, your "summary" will be based more on ability than experience.

A few examples of "Summary" sections:

  • Highly motivated, creative and versatile real estate executive with seven years of experience in property acquisition, development and construction, as well as the management of large apartment complexes. Especially skilled at building effective, productive working relationships with clients and staff. Excellent management, negotiation and public relations skills. Seeking a challenging management position in the real estate field that offers extensive contact with the public.
  • Over 10 years as an organizational catalyst/training design consultant with a track record of producing extraordinary results for more than 20 national and community based organizations. A commitment to human development and community service. Energetic self-starter with excellent analytical, organizational, and creative skills.
  • Financial Management Executive with nearly ten years of experience in banking and international trade, finance, investments and economic policy. Innovative in structuring credit enhancement for corporate and municipal financing. Skilled negotiator with strong management, sales and marketing background. Areas of expertise include (a bulleted list would follow this paragraph.)
  • Health Care Professional experienced in management, program development and policy making in the United States as well as in several developing countries. Expertise in emergency medical services. A talent for analyzing problems, developing and simplifying procedures, and finding innovative solutions. Proven ability to motivate and work effectively with persons from other cultures and all walks of life. Skilled in working within a foreign environment with limited resources.
  • Commander - Chief Executive Officer of the US Navy, Atlantic Fleet. Expertise in all areas of management, with a proven record of unprecedented accomplishment. History of the highest naval awards and rapid promotion. Proven senior-level experience in executive decision-making, policy direction, strategic business planning, Congressional relations, financial and personnel management, research and development, and aerospace engineering. Extensive knowledge of government military requirements in systems and equipment. Committed to the highest levels of professional and personal excellence.
  • Performing artist with a rich baritone voice and unusual range, specializing in classical, spiritual, gospel and rap music. Featured soloist for two nationally televised events. Accomplished pianist. Extensive performance experience includes television, concert tours and club acts. Available for commercial recording and live performances.

Skills and Accomplishments

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In this final part of the assertions section of your resume, you go into more detail. You are still writing to enroll the reader, not to inform them. Basically, you do exactly what you did in the previous section, except that you go into more detail. In the summary, you focused on your most special highlights. Now you tell the rest of best of your story. Let them know what results you produced, what happened as a result of your efforts, what you are especially gifted or experienced at doing. Flesh out the most important highlights in your summary.

You are still writing to do what every good advertisement does, communicating the following: if you buy this product, you will get these direct benefits. If it doesn't contribute to furthering this communication, don't bother to say it. Remember, not too much detail. Preserve a bit of mystery. Don't tell them everything. 1 Sometimes the "Skills and Accomplishments" sections is a separate section. In a chronological resume, it becomes the first few phrases of the descriptions of the various jobs you have held. We will cover that in a few minutes, when we discuss the different types of resumes. When it is a separate section, it can have several possible titles, depending on your situation:


There are a number of different ways to structure "Skills and Accomplishments" sections. In all of these styles, put your skills and accomplishments in order of importance for the desired career goal. If you have many skills, the last skill paragraph might be called "Additional Skills".

Here are a few ways you could structure your skills and accomplishments section:

  1. A listing of skills or accomplishments or a combination of both, with bullets
  2. Example:


    • Raised $1900 in 21 days in canvassing and advocacy on environmental, health and consumer issues.
    • Conducted legal research for four Assistant US Attorneys, for the US Attorney's office
    • Coordinated Board of Directors and Community Advisory Board of community mental health center. Later commended as "the best thing that ever happened to that job."
  3. A listing of major skill headings with accomplishments under each. The accomplishments can be a bulleted list or in paragraph form. The material under the headings should include mention of accomplishments which prove each skill.
  4. Example:


    National Training Project / Conference Management.

    Director of "Outreach on Hunger", a national public education/training project funded by USAID, foundations and all the major church denominations - Designed, managed and promoted 3-day training conferences in cities throughout the US - Planned and managed 32 nationwide training seminars and a 5-day annual conference for university vice-presidents and business executives.

    Program Design: Universities.

    Invited by Duke University President Terry Sanford to develop new directions and programs for the University's Office of Summer Educational Programs, first Director of Duke's "Pre-college Program", first editor of "Summer at Duke". Designed and successfully proposed a center for the study of creativity at The George Washington University.

  5. A list of bulleted accomplishments or skill paragraphs under each job (in a chronological resume).
  6. Example:

    Director of Sales and Marketing


    • Promoted from Sales Representative within one year of joining company to Director of Sales and Marketing. Responsible for international sales of raw materials, as well as printing and graphic arts equipment. Oversaw five sales managers. Was in charge of direct sales and marketing in 17 countries throughout Europe and the Middle East.
    • Recruited, trained and managed sales staff. Developed marketing strategy, prepared sales projections and established quotas. Selected and contracted with overseas sub-agents to achieve international market penetration.
    • Negotiated and finalized long-term contractual agreements with suppliers on behalf of clients. Oversaw all aspects of transactions, including letters of credit, international financing, preparation of import/export documentation, and shipping/freight forwarding.
    • Planned and administered sales and marketing budget, and maintained sole profit/loss responsibility. Within first year, doubled company's revenues, and produced $7-9 million in annual sales during the next eight years.

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