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If you’re looking for an executive job or considering changing your career direction, you’re thinking about executive resumes and job search.
Maybe you’re writing your own resume, and doing some research to learn how to write your resume.
A Google search on “resume writing” yielded about 750 million results today.
Should you trust what you find? Yes, if it comes from a reliable source, preferably someone who has a lot of experience in the careers industry.
To get you started, I’ve put together some things you need to know about resumes, before you start writing your own, or hire someone to do it for you.
5 Things You (Probably) Don’t Know About Executive Resumes and Job Search
1. A resume that lacks targeting will probably be inadequate.
Many executive job seekers resist targeting certain employers, because they don’t want to limit their options.
They want to be open to any opportunities that may even remotely be a good fit for them. I hear this all the time.
The problem with this approach is that, when you’re writing your personal marketing content (for your executive resume, biography, LinkedIn profile, etc.), you won’t know who you’re writing it for.
You won’t know which specific strengths, qualities and qualifications of yours to zero in on.
Being generic, to cover as many bases (or job opportunities) as possible, will probably lead to a very prolonged job search.
Understand that your resume is a personal marketing communication.
One of the main principles of marketing is to know your target audience and understand their “pain points”.
Then you can position yourself as their problem solver and the right hiring choice. You can write your personal marketing materials around what will resonate with them.
More in my post, Personal Branding, Executive Resume or Job Search Targeting: Which Comes First?
2. An old fashioned-looking resume could knock you out of the running.
Has it been several years since you needed a resume?
Many executives have NO resume because they never needed one.
They advanced through the ranks at a few companies, sliding easily from one job to the next. They were in demand by recruiters, or their networks led them to new opportunities.
Now, they find that the job pipeline is NOT flowing. But they need a job, or they’re ready to explore new and challenging opportunities.
If they have a resume at all, it’s a dinosaur.
Often, they’ve tweaked to death the resume they first wrote 15-20 years ago.
If they even know their resume needs to look up to date, they don’t know what that looks like.
And an old-fashioned looking resume can indicate their age, and possibly set them up for age discrimination.
For tips on modern executive resumes and job search, read my post, Worried About Age Discrimination? 9 Things on Your Executive Resume That Show Your Age.
3. The more interesting your resume is to read, the more likely you’ll be of interest.
To make your resume interesting, lean on your personal brand.
Imagine how it will perk up readers and elevate your candidacy, if your resume immediately captures their interest because it doesn’t read like everyone else’s.
That alone will differentiate you as a candidate.
Then, once people start reading your personal brand story, they’ll connect better with you and get a real feel for who you are.
What’s so great about personal branding?
Personal branding in job search is all about differentiating the unique value you offer your target employers.
Doesn’t it stand to reason that branding in your resume will help to make you stand out?
A branded resume showcases how you get things done, what you’re like to work with, and how your leadership style positively impacts your employers.
Branding is a way to generate chemistry for you as a candidate. It helps people “get” the real you and your story better than the typically boring, anemic resumes most people see.
More in my post, Is Your Executive Resume an Interesting Read?
4. People will probably see your LinkedIn profile before you ever send them your resume.
Don’t get me wrong. A great resume is still important, but recruiters and hiring decision makers routinely search online (particularly on LinkedIn) for candidates.
In fact, your entire online presence is probably more important than your resume alone.
If you’re networking your way into your target companies, you’ll actually SEND your resume to people. Your online presence is there for all to see . . . unless you don’t have one.
Make no mistake. Once you’re in the running, people will Google “your name” to find out more about you.
People sourcing candidates are more attracted to those who are employed. You’ve probably had recruiters reach out to you on LinkedIn when you had a job and were not actively job hunting.
The thing is, you want them to keep doing this. At some point, you may need them.
Get together the best resume possible and keep it up to date, so you’re always at the ready.
But also, get to work on online branding and managing your online reputation.
See my post, 5 Online Reputation Management Keys for Executive Job Search
5. The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) resume black hole can get you.
I’ve found that so many executive job seekers are completely unaware of the existence of ATS.
ATS are used on job boards AND on company websites AND by recruiters.
Here’s how it works.
Your resume lands in a database, with all the other applicants, only to be called up if it contains enough of the right keywords that match the ones put into it.
Some, but not all recruiters will actually read every resume that comes their way. But you can’t count on all the people you send your resume to, to do that.
ATS can be flawed and can even overlook the absolute best fit candidates, if those people didn’t know how to structure and build an ATS-friendly resume that sails through the system.
How to avoid this dilemma?
Circumvent ATS for as long as possible in the search process.
Target and network your way into specific companies.
That means conducting informational interviews with people at your target companies, or those who are within a few degrees of separation from them.
Then, by the time your resume lands in an ATS – if it ever does – you will already be a somewhat known entity within that company.
Employers tend to hire people they know (and like) at least a little, over complete strangers.
Read more in my post, Executive Resume ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems): What You Need To Know.
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