Start your resume with a relevant skills section

If you’ve put a “career objective” section at the top of your resume, you might be missing out on job opportunities. Read on to learn why you should start your resume with a “relevant skills” section instead.

To understand why, let’s start with the purpose of a resume. A resume is a marketing tool that positions you as a valuable asset to potential employers. It frames your past employment experience and education, along with your skills, abilities and accomplishments, in a way that clearly illustrates how hiring you can help potential employers solve a problem or achieve a goal.

That said, a career objective section can work against you. It’s one-sided and is from your perspective only. It tells a potential employer how the job would fit into your vision for your career. It doesn’t help them to understand the potential benefits that you could bring to their organization, but this is essential for them to see to hire you.

So, once you remove the career objective section, what should you replace it with?

Start your resume with a “relevant skills” section instead. Right off the bat, potential employers will see a list of your skills and abilities that align with those required for the job you’re applying for. The goal in this section is to quickly illustrate how you’re the missing piece of the puzzle that can help your manager, as well as the company, succeed.

Find three steps for how to ace the relevant skills section below:

Step 1: First, analyze the job description, and research the company’s website and news about the company. Your aim is to better understand what they’re looking for in a candidate, and what’s important to the organization.

Step 2: Then, identify the keywords related to skills and abilities that come up often in the job description, as well as in the company’s strategic direction, mission, vision and values.

Step 3: Lastly, compare the list of keywords to the skill sets, abilities and other attributes that you possess. Make sure the keywords that align with you are mentioned in the relevant skills section at least once. This might involve some skillful writing!

Venn diagram for the “relevant skills” section

As a side note, doing research to find the right keywords will also give you a boost if the company uses resume screening software to vet job applicants. Learn more about this here.

Do you have any questions about writing your relevant skills section? Share in the comments, or send your question to me directly.

Image credits:, Laine Bodnar.

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