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:
NO CLEAR CAREER TARGETING
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.
photo by Drew Coffman