I’ve heard this statement, or variations, many times from prospective Chief Marketing Officer clients.
As seasoned marketing experts, they know how to brand, position and market their companies’ products. But they’re not so good at writing their resume, a personal marketing document.
They’re frustrated, and sometimes ashamed, that they have a hard time meeting this challenge.
They’ve made a stab at it, and have used their home-grown resume. But it’s just not hitting the mark. They’re not getting interviews.
They know the value they have to offer, but aren’t very good at communicating it in their resume to get the attention they deserve.
To be fair, all of this is very new to them.
Most have never needed a resume, as they progressed through their careers. They were in demand by recruiters, or their networks helped them easily slide from one job to the next.
Or, it’s been more than 5 years since they’ve had to look for a job, so they have no experience with the new world of executive job search.
I reassure them that they’re not alone in having trouble writing their own resume.
Most people find it difficult to distance themselves enough to objectively assess and strategically position themselves.
And, because most also don’t understand today’s resume strategy, they don’t know how it should look, what to include, what to exclude and what to highlight.
I discuss with them how job search has changed in just the past few years, and that, although resumes are still very important, these days their resume may not be their first introduction to the people they need to attract.
Most recruiters and hiring decision-makers source and assess candidates by what they find in online searches of candidates’ names and relevant keywords that lead them to job seekers.
These hiring professionals probably know about them well before a resume is exchanged, unless the candidate has little or no online presence and is basically invisible.
I also stress that, since these people search LinkedIn first, before using other search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) when they’re sourcing and vetting candidates, they’d better be there too, with online profiles that provide supporting evidence.
I tell them that they’ll still need a resume as they’re networking, and at some point in the hiring process.
As they pull together information for their resume, they should keep in mind that they’ll need to spread this information out across their other career marketing communications – executive biography, case studies, other documents, LinkedIn profile and other online career materials.
Here are some of the reasons these CMOs’ resumes aren’t working:
1. They fail to position themselves as the best hiring choice for their target employers.
They’re trying to appeal to various types of employers and industries, so their resume is too generic, and doesn’t hit home with anyone.
2. They don’t understand how personal branding will differentiate them and generate chemistry for them as a good-fit candidate.
There’s no personality evident. The summary at the top of the resume could fit just about any CMO. Sameness doesn’t sell a candidate these days. Differentiation does.
3. They fail to capture attention above the fold.
The top quarter or third of their resume doesn’t stand on its own as their calling card. If they don’t get the readers’ attention within 10 to 15 seconds, they’ve probably sabotaged their chance.
4. They’ve loaded their resume with anemic, brand-diluting phrases.
5. (Even worse than the above) They copy content from resume samples published online.
I’ve actually been sent resumes by CMOs that contained large chunks of information copied from resume samples on my own websites.
6. They try to cram every bit of their career history into a 2 page resume.
They’ve heard that they can’t go over 2 pages, but visual appeal is important. Too much information on the page, in a tiny font size, and without enough white space, sacrifices readability and can dissuade readers from paying any attention to the content.
7. Their resume contains grammatical errors and typos.
An obvious one, but surprisingly prevalent. They’ll sometimes bounce back and forth from first person to third person voice. Typos are unacceptable and reflect badly on candidates. I often see misspellings of the person’s job title. “Manger” for “Manager” shows up often.
8. They try to impress with dizzying formatting.
The look is not clean, doesn’t entice the reader, and may even give them a headache. Avoid using more than 2 different fonts – one for headings, another for the content. Don’t use underlining, unless you’re including a hyperlink. Avoid too much bolding, italicizing and capitalizing.
photo by marc falardeau