Many of my c-suite and senior executive clients haven’t needed a resume for many years, if ever.
They’ve 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’re ready to explore new and challenging opportunities.
One Misstep Many Executives Make with Their Resume
Eager to land as soon as possible, they manage to locate that 10 (or 15, or 20) year old resume, and begin updating it.
The problem? Many of them do the update within the framework of that outdated, limiting document.
They don’t understand that today’s resume is a marketing document, designed for the digital age – not a career history merely outlining job responsibilities, with a few achievements thrown in.
Even if they’ve seen modern resumes that stand out and make the candidate shine, they often don’t know how to craft one for themselves.
The Modern Executive Resume is Not Easy To Write
I’ve found that even CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers), and other marketing experts, have a hard time writing their resumes. They’re often embarrassed that they don’t know how to market themselves.
To be fair, how could they possibly grasp all that’s involved with resume writing strategy, when they’ve probably written only one resume . . . their own?
It takes years of study, training and practice for professionals like myself to get a handle on this nuanced, complicated and challenging kind of content writing.
A modern resume . . one that will help you compete in the digital age . . . adds many components to that so-yesterday document you pulled out of a yellowing file folder.
Here’s the best executive resume writing strategy:
Targeting and research
Target specific employers and research them to determine the specific things that make you a good-fit for specific current needs of theirs. Don’t think about writing your resume before you do this.
Personal brand development
Differentiate your unique value proposition by defining and communicating your personal brand. Sameness won’t “sell” you. Differentiation will.
Write brand-reinforcing content that will resonate with your target employers. Make them care about you, and clearly see that they should speak with you.
Be mindful of above-the-fold branding, to capture attention immediately with the first glance. Make the top part of page one (sometimes called the “summary” or “executive profile”) stand on its own as your personal brand calling card.
Identify the right, relevant keywords, which usually represent your key strengths or areas of expertise. Be sure to stoke plenty of your keywords in your ATS (Applicant Tracking System)-friendly version.
Include specific examples of contributions you’ve made that support your good-fit candidacy. Building career “stories” is a good way to do this.
Place hyperlinks to social networks (especially LinkedIn) in your contact information, but only if you’re active on these sites. Include links within other resume sections to relevant online articles or posts you’ve written, or been quoted in. Link to your employers’ websites in the Experience section.
Format for Readability
Include plenty of white space and use an easy-to-read, attractive format. Remember that your digital resume is probably being read on a small screen. Make it as easy as possible for people assessing you to find and read what they need.
10 things that should NOT be in your executive resume:
- Your physical address, especially on any resume you’ll post online. People can piece together a lot about you with this information, and potentially compromise your safety.
- An objective statement. Focus the top of your resume – that above-the-fold, prime real estate – on showcasing your value to target employers.
- Professional references. Keep them on a separate sheet, to provide when/if asked for them.
- Out-dated technology expertise and other non-relevant areas of expertise, including non-relevant languages.
- Personal information such as marital status and number of children. This may be acceptable in some countries, but not the U.S.
- Hobbies, unless they’re deeply related to the work you will do for your target employers.
- Your GPA and college activities, if you graduated more than 10 years ago.
- Salary history. Don’t play your cards before you get into an interview, and can negotiate.
- Anemic, brand-diluting phrases like “responsible for”, “results-oriented” and “visionary leader”.
- Any typos and grammatical errors. Proofread diligently and have others proofread your resume, too. Don’t rely on spell check.