How to Update and Revive Your Over-Edited, Old Executive Resume
So many of my executive job seeking clients who send me their executive resume when we first connect, feel the need to apologize for it.
Over the years, they’ve edited the thing to death, and now they have a disjointed, unfocused mess that they know doesn’t represent the best they have to offer.
They may have started out with a decent resume years ago, but since then they’ve updated it to reflect new jobs, new responsibilities, certifications, training, etc.
But they usually haven’t deleted any information to accommodate the new stuff.
Because they’ve been told that their resume must be no longer than 2 pages (a common misconception), they’re left with a document that’s so tightly jammed full of content, in such a tiny font, that even they have a tough time reading it.
Pity the poor people they’ve been sending these resumes to.
Some Things Executive Job Seekers Do Wrong with Their Resumes
- The message and formatting are not cohesive.
- The formatting and font choices are inconsistent throughout.
- The formatting – typically an old style from years ago – doesn’t advance the message well.
- They clearly don’t know what a modern, optimized resume looks like.
- The newer content often contains spelling, usage and grammatical errors.
- Someone told them to use a functional format to try to hide various red flags.
- The content doesn’t communicate their unique value proposition.
- The content doesn’t generate chemistry by giving a feel for their personality.
All of the above mistakes can sabotage chances and reflect badly on these job seekers, because:
- Messy, inconsistent formatting makes it seem like they didn’t want to take the time to do it right.
- An old-style, un-optimized document makes them seem out of date with the digital age.
- Grammatical and spelling errors bring into question their communication skills.
- A functional format doesn’t fool anyone.
- The lack of personal branding means their resume probably won’t generate chemistry, and doesn’t concentrate on their good-fit qualities for their target companies.
How To Begin the Executive Resume Updating Process
Instead of working from, and trying to perfect, your out-of-date mishmash of a resume, back up and start at the beginning.
Whether you have no resume, a so-so resume or what you consider to be a brilliant resume, start here:
TARGETING – RESEARCHING – PERSONAL BRANDING
With targeting and research, you’ll know how to define and communicate your personal brand. Branding is built around the unique value you offer specific target employers and differentiates the value you offer, over your job-seeking competitors.
Branding, based on how you’ll meet specific current pressing needs of your target employers, will help you generate chemistry and give a feel for your personality.
Knowing what your target employers will be looking for in candidates like you will drive the content in your resume. Then the content, and the things that need to be highlighted, will drive the formatting.
A Few Words About Spelling, Usage and Grammatical Errors
Please, take the time to re-read your resume several times, and have others review it, before you send it out.
I hope it goes without saying that typos, misspellings and grammatical errors in your job search personal marketing materials (LinkedIn profile, resume, biography, etc.) reflect badly on you as a candidate.
Such errors can actually tarnish your personal brand.
Diligent proofreading is a must. Don’t rely solely on Spell Check. Take the time to re-read your resume several times, and have others review it, before you send it out. Pay close attention to typos in your contact info, for obvious reasons.
Be aware that grammatical errors can convey the wrong message and even make you look ridiculous. Watch for confusing misplaced modifiers and phrases that distort what you meant to say.
More in my post, Do Grammar and Spelling Errors Really Matter in Executive Job Search?
How To Develop Content To Update Your Executive Resume
Probably the most important things you’ll be updating in your resume will be new jobs and responsibilities.
Storytelling is a great way to flesh out new accomplishments and contributions (and relevant older ones), position your value offer and get some zing into the content.
Using storytelling to draw out your top contributions helps people see HOW you leverage your skills and strengths to make things happen, and makes it easier for employers to picture you in action, making things happen for their organization. It gives them an indication of your personality and what you’re like to work with – important characteristics.
A storytelling device resume writers have been using for decades is the C-A-Rs approach, or Challenge – Actions – Results, also known by other acronyms such as S-T-A-Rs (Situation – Tasks – Actions – Results).
Here’s how to develop C-A-Rs stories:
What was the specific CHALLENGE (or Situation) facing the company and/or your team? Were you/the company facing particularly difficult odds with this situation? What were the stakes?
What specific ACTION(s) did you take to meet the challenge and improve things (whatever the goal was or whatever needed turning around)?
What were the long and short term RESULT(s) that positively impacted the company? Did you meet the goal, improve things, and/or turn around the situation? How long did it take to see the results? Monetize the results. Use metrics whenever possible – NUMBERS TALK!
And a tip to do it well:
When writing each short (2 to 3 lines) story, lead with the big result, including metrics, when possible. Here’s an example for a CEO Consultant – Business Process and Profitability Improvement:
Salvaged 65% of over-budget, behind-schedule million-dollar Financial System IT project for $280M utility company. Banked on efforts already invested, redefined the approach, mapped out a new path, renewed confidence, and unified everyone toward the same path of success.
More about developing content in my post, How to Build Personal Brand Content for Executive Job Search.
How To Update Your Executive Resume Summary
Don’t just insert new content in the Professional Experience section. Take a look at what, if anything, precedes that in your resume.
Since it’s the first thing most people will see, think of the summary, or executive profile, as a quick snapshot that should stand on its own as your calling card.
Add in new content and attractive formatting designed to resonate with your target employers.
Brand yourself above the fold – the top third or quarter of page one. Busy decision makers generally allow only 10 seconds or so for a resume to draw them in. They may go no further than that initial page view when screening web pages or digital documents.
As much as possible, make this section stand on its own as your calling card.
Some suggestions for above the fold branding:
- Forget the objective statement. Lead with the job title/kind of role you’re seeking, backed by relevant keywords.
- Include your personal brand statement which should contain your relevant keywords linked to your relevant key personal attributes.
- Add a powerful quote from a recent performance review or someone you work with.
- Include 3 or 4 value-driven bulleted statements with metrics.
- Use a few graphic boxes to highlight pertinent information like your brand statement or quote from someone about your performance.
How To Format Your New Executive Resume
Did you know that you’ll need 3 versions of your executive resume, for various purposes?
1. A nicely formatted, visually appealing Word version.
2. A PDF version so that formatting of the above will set up exactly as you meant it to.
3. A stripped down, barely formatted text or ATS-friendly version to make it through an Applicant Tracking System. This can be created as a Word document.
More about this in my posts:
Other Tips To Modernize Your New Executive Resume
A few tips to modernize and optimize your resume, to show that you’re social media savvy and up to date with the digital age.
Add hyperlinks in your resume to:
- Your LinkedIn profile in the contact information at the top.
- Your other social media accounts in the contact information, if you’re active.
- Your personal website in the contact information, if you have one.
- Any articles, publications or media coverage you’ve noted anywhere in the content.
- Your employers’ websites for your more recent jobs in the Professional Experience section.
Executive Job Search and Personal Branding Help
Need help with personal branding, your LinkedIn profile, resume and biography, and getting your executive job search on track . . . to land a great-fit new gig?