The Biggest Executive Resume Writing Mistake

by Meg Guiseppi on October 3, 2011

Executive Resume Writing

You sit down to put your resume together and ponder what should go in, and what should NOT go in.

You want to make an excellent first impression. You want your email inbox to be flooded with requests for interviews.

You may think one of these resume mistakes is the worst thing you can do:

  • Wrong formatting
  • Leading with a self-serving objective statement
  • Employment gaps that send up red flags
  • Too many pages

While these (and others) may all be bloopers that can sabotage your chances, the biggest mistake any executive job seeker can make with their resume – or LinkedIn profile, other online profiles, or any career marketing materials – is:


That is, not determining at the start of your job search which companies and positions within them are a good mutual fit.

Think about it. The purpose of a resume is to qualify you as a potential candidate – both in personal character and in skill sets – and to make people reading about you feel compelled to want to meet you and learn more.

Recruiters and hiring decision makers assessing you through your resume (or LinkedIn profile, etc.) don’t have time to sift through irrelevant information. They need to quickly and clearly see your ROI value to their company.

How can you write about what makes you a good fit for a company, if you haven’t chosen target companies, don’t know what challenges they’re facing right now, and can’t align your qualifications with their pressing needs?

And how can you define your executive brand if you don’t know your target audience? You won’t be able to create brand messaging that will resonate with anyone.

Your resume needs to speak to and market your promise of value to specific employers, so that they can picture you there, positively impacting the company. You may need to tweak your resume to customize it for each company.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Compile a list of 15-20 (or so) target companies.
  • Research each company and your industry.
  • Look for well-written job descriptions (even if the geographical location isn’t right for you) that look like a good fit. They will be loaded with the relevant keywords that need to be in your resume, and will outline required qualifications and skill sets.
  • Make a list of the keywords, areas of expertise, qualifications and skill sets that crop up consistently in your research.
  • Write down specific examples, with metrics, of contributions and accomplishments you made in the past in those areas, to demonstrate your ROI value.

If you don’t do these things, you’ll end up with a generic resume, trying to cover too many bases, and not hitting home with anyone.

Know where you’re headed so you can focus the entire resume in one direction. Make it very clear that you’re the right person, in every respect, for the job you’re targeting. If you’re not really a good fit, and you know it, then you’re probably wasting everyone’s time.

Related posts:

How to Write An Irresistible C-level Executive Brand Resume in 10 Steps

Is the Executive Resume Dead or Dying?

Resume and Brand Story for President-CEO-COO Manufacturing Turnarounds

10 Brand-Diluting Phrases That Can Ruin Your Executive Resume

What’s Wrong with Copying an Executive Resume Sample?

photo by Drew Coffman

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meg Guiseppi October 28, 2011 at 8:43 am

Gosh, Jill. Thanks for your lovely comment. You’ve made my day!

I’m glad to see my intent with blogging is coming across. Along with communicating my brand and the value of my services, my mission is to share information and advice.

I truly appreciate your support as a colleague and careers expert!

2 Jill Grindle October 27, 2011 at 7:32 pm


Just wanted to let you know how excellent and well thought out your blogs are — you immediately establish yourself as an exceptionally well connected executive resume writer and branding expert (without being over the top), who not only provides germane content, but does it in such a way as to establish a warm, but professional rapport with those who read your blogs.

Great posts and no recycling of overused material as seen on so many other blogs.

Thanks for keeping it fresh, relevant and interesting!


3 Meg Guiseppi October 21, 2011 at 7:46 am

Perfectly stated, Ed. Job seekers will find that, working from a clear job search focus and therefore knowing what a specific target audience will be looking for in candidates, their career marketing communications will come together better, and they’ll be more prepared for networking and job interviewing.

Thanks for commenting!

4 Ed Han October 21, 2011 at 7:15 am

Meg, that’s an excellent point: I think that job seekers often lose sight of the fact that poor mechanics can be overlooked but strategic focus–a key trait in a leader–is an inexcusable error.

Leave a Comment


Previous post:

Next post: