Let’s face it. An executive resume is typically pretty boring, because of the inherent constraints in terms of formatting, length and necessary content . . . or so it would seem.
A resume usually starts with some kind of summary section that is a repository for lifeless relevant keywords and phrases, representing key areas of expertise.
The Experience section follows, often hitting only on a list of duties and responsibilities . . . maybe with a few achievements sprinkled in.
Don’t get me wrong. Those things need to be there.
Unfortunately, many resumes stop there, and neglect any content that breathes life into them.
These kinds of resumes can be boring to write, but even more boring to read for the people tasked with assessing perhaps hundreds of potential candidates at any one time.
Think of these people (recruiters and other hiring professionals) having to read all those tired resumes and trying to sift through the dull muck to find a gem of a candidate.
Always write your executive resume for the reader.
One of the first rules of resume writing is to be empathetic:
“Write with the reader in mind. Put yourself in the shoes of the people who will be reading it. Make it easy for them to find the kind of information about you that you need them to know.”
This is why starting with targeting and research is so important. That’s the only way you’ll find the information about specific employers that you need to know, to write a compelling resume.
That’s the only way you’ll know what it is about you specifically, that makes you a good fit for your target employers.
Doesn’t it make sense that, if your resume stands out from the rest not only because you’ve made it easy for them to assess your qualifications but you’ve also made it an interesting read, that more people will actually read it?
To make your executive 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 – showcasing how you get things done, what you’re like to work with, and how your leadership style positively impacts your employers – they connect with you and get a real feel for who you are.
What’s so great about personal branding?
Because personal branding in job search is all about differentiating the unique value you offer your target employers, it stands to reason that branding in your resume will help to make you stand out.
Branding is a way to generate chemistry for you as a candidate. It helps people “see” the real you and your story better than what usually shows up in a resume.
Jazz up your executive resume with various strategies.
- Highlight the things you’re passionate about doing at work and how those passions have benefited your employers.
- Don’t be afraid to show your personality. This helps employers determine whether you’ll be a good culture fit for their company.
- Add a quote of yours or an accolade by someone else, noting the value you offer.
- See Think Like an Executive Resume Branding Pro – Build Your Personal Brand for plenty of tips to make your executive resume interesting to read, and help you stand out and above the competition.
And a few more good suggestions from career and leadership author Stephanie Vozza:
Be as specific as possible.
Generic or comprehensive information could apply to any one of your competitors in the job market. It does very little to help people assessing you distinguish you from the rest.
Pare down the info in your resume to only include what’s relevant to the job and employer. Your company and industry research will help you weed things out and focus on what’s most important.
If you have lots of relevant information, use only what’s most important so you can keep your resume to a reasonable length. Any relevant extra tidbits may work well in your cover letter.
Don’t forget to use numbers.
This kind of specificity offers clarity around just how significant the impact of your actions were.
And visually, numbers stand out among words, so the eye will be drawn to your metrics.
Don’t duplicate your cover letter.
Your cover letter will most likely be read first and it should be a stand-alone document.
A cover letter’s purpose is to zero in on that specific employer you’re writing to. It provides you an opportunity to mention specific things about yourself that may not be appropriate for your resume or that may only apply to that particular employer.
“Your cover letter should work in tandem with your resume, which details your background and accomplishments. You don’t want a cover letter that just reiterates what’s on your CV, and you don’t want a CV that’s so long and broad that you don’t have anything left to describe in your cover letter.”
Write in the active voice.
“Be intentional about including action-oriented verbs attached to responsibilities. For example, “leading teams,” “driving engagement,” and “running operations.”
Your executive summary is one area to focus on since the rest of your resume will highlight your work experience, typically in bullets, as well as your cover letter, if you wanted to add some flair in terms of who you are and what you’re looking to do.”
Get feedback from others.
“When you’re too close to your own career, it’s possible to overlook some of your best accomplishments or strengths. It’s important to ask an objective person to review your resume, especially if you’re applying for a leadership position.
Also, having another person read your material can help you avoid misspellings and grammatical errors.”