Think Like an Executive Resume Branding Pro – 10 Resume Do’s and Don’ts

by Meg Guiseppi on April 27, 2015

Part 5 – Insider Executive Resume Tips To Capture Attention and Land Interviews

Have you ever wondered how a professional executive resume writer knows what to include in their clients’ resumes, what to exclude, and how to position the right information, in the right ways?

executive resume branding


This 5-part series will help you understand how to create an interview-generating, brand-reinforcing executive resume.

Here’s what you learned in the first 4 parts of this series:

Part 1 – Target Your Executive Resume for the Hidden Job Market

Part 2 – What Personal Branding Is and Is NOT

Part 3 – Differentiate Your Unique Value Proposition and Build Personal Brand Content

Part 4 – Strategize the Content and Write Your Personally Branded Executive Resume

In this 5th and last part, I’ll wrap things up for you with some insider tips on editing and finalizing your executive resume.

How To Consolidate All the Pieces Into A Neat Package

With your clearly defined brand attributes and value proposition firmly in place, you’re ready to put it together, with every aspect and word supporting your mission and brand.

Editing is the hardest part for most people. Since space is at a premium, precision-writing is of the essence. Writing short takes time and courage. Paring down to the essentials can be painful, but remember your mission.

Remember that today’s resume is not a comprehensive career history. It is a career marketing or advertising tool designed to immediately capture attention, generate interviews, and hopefully, pre-qualify you for a premium compensation package. Your resume needs to provide just enough information to accomplish that. Nothing included should be arbitrary.

10 Executive Resume Do’s and Don’ts


1. Streamline Your Resume Header

To avoid confusion and keep your resume header clean, include just one phone number – the one you’re most accessible via and will frequently check the voicemail for – typically your cell phone.

Get a new email address if yours is unprofessional or in any way off-color. I’ve seen some downright offensive email addresses. Don’t turn people off before you give them the chance to consider you. And a silly, unprofessional email address may land your email message and resume in a spam filter. Set up a designated job hunting email account with an address using your first and last names.

For obvious reasons, it’s not wise to use a phone number or email address associated with your employer.

2. Objective Statements Are So Yesterday

Don’t use a time-worn objective statement at the top of your resume. Employers don’t care that you want a “growth position that will utilize my expertise in XYZ”. They want to know what you’ll do for them. All of the content on your resume should be focused on your potential value to your target employers. Objective statements waste valuable space and prime real estate, and don’t capture attention.

3. Pack a Punch on the First Page

Brand your value “above the fold” (see Part 4) and design the entire first page to stand on it’s own as your ROI calling card. Assume that readers will go no further than your first page, because that could easily be the case. Subsequent pages are there to provide supporting evidence, and include earlier relevant career highlights and education/professional development. An interest-grabbing first page will lead readers to move beyond it, to the following pages.

4. Tell the Truth!

Your resume must be 100% truthful. Stretching the truth or outright lies will catch up with you, and damage your credibility and reputation. Even a little white lie can result in your being suddenly out of the running, or subsequent immediate termination, if you’ve managed to squeak through and get hired.

5. Avoid Blah Resume-speak

Replace stale, overused phrases like “responsible for” with robust action verbs, like accelerated, pioneered, launched, advanced, optimized, etc.

Write your resume from your own voice. You’re not like everyone else. Find the precise words that describe what makes you unique and valuable. Keep the content interesting and don’t fall back on dull phrases that don’t differentiate you, such as results-oriented, visionary leader, excellent communication skills, proven track record of success, etc.

6. Don’t Include Certain Personal and Irrelevant Information

These items should be left off your resume:

  • Personal information – date of birth, marital status, health etc.
  • Hobbies – save those for your bio
  • Personal/professional references
  • Irrelevant certifications, professional development, awards, etc.

7. Formatting Should Be Attractive and Easy To Read

Keep the formatting consistent and clean. Don’t use frilly fronts, or more than two different fonts, and don’t use underlining. This kind of formatting can be dizzying to readers and turn them off.

Concise on-brand statements of value, surrounded by enough white space to make them pop, work best. If you’ve done your homework correctly, these statements will provide clear evidence of your success impacting bottom line, and position you as the best-fit candidate. Use bullet points for better impact.

Break up long chunks of information into no more than about 3-4 lines.

8. Your Resume Must Be Flawless

Grammatical errors and inconsistencies, typos, and misspellings are unacceptable, and reflect badly on you. Don’t rely solely on SpellCheck. Print out the document and review it several times. Ask others to check it as well.

9. What About Resume Length?

Try to keep your resume to 2 to 3 pages. Exceptions are doctors, educators, scientists, and others who may have extensive CVs. But don’t fret if your resume spills over to a fourth page. The point is that it needs to include what’s most important for those assessing you to know about you. Think before you include arbitrary information about yourself that your research hasn’t shown to be important in candidates.

Typically, it’s best to limit your career history to the last 10-15 years – to counteract ageism and space issues. But there may be some situations where going back further than 15 years is advised and/or necessary.

10. Don’t Worry About Having Too Much Information

You’ll be gathering a lot of information for your resume. Initially, don’t worry that you won’t be able to fit it all into 2 or 3 pages. Nothing will go to waste. Excess information can be used for collateral supporting documents and/or interviews, and the entire personal branding and resume development process serves as a terrific confidence-builder and energizer to prep you for your executive job search. The hard work you’ll be doing will set you up to succeed.

The Impact of Doing All the Personal Branding and Resume Development Work

A standout executive resume demands forward-thinking design and bold content. You have to be willing to embrace what differentiates you from everyone else and makes you unique. You have to be willing to softly brag about the value you bring to your next employer . . . and back it up with proof, through actual examples.

Uniqueness is what will sell you. All of your efforts to pull this together successfully will pay off in every aspect of the job search ahead. You’ll be armed with the goods for better networking, interviewing, salary negotiations, and overall healthy career management.

With your personally branded resume in hand, you’re ready to start networking your way into the advertised and “hidden” (unadvertised) jobs at your target companies. More in How Do I Find a Job in the “Hidden” Job Market?

You can view a few executive resume samples, to see how I’ve brought all the pieces together for actual clients of mine.

More About Personal Branding and Executive Resume Writing

The New 10-Step Executive Personal Branding Worksheet

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

Toxic Executive Job Search Belief: I don’t need to target my resume

2 of My Favorite Insider Tips for Executive Resume Writing

2 More Favorite Insider Tips for Executive Resume Writing

7 Deadly Sins of Executive Resume Writing

Can You Avoid the Executive Resume Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Vortex?

graphic on Pixabay



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