Many of my c-suite 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, because they were in demand by recruiters, or their networks led them to new opportunities.
Now, they find that the job pipeline is not flowing. And they’re ready to explore new and challenging opportunities.
So they manage to locate that 10+ year old resume and begin updating it . . . within the framework of that outdated, limiting document.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 strategy to follow, and what to include in your modern resume:
- Target specific employers and research them to determine what makes you a good-fit for their current needs. Don’t think about writing your resume before you do this.
- Personal branding to help you differentiate your unique value proposition. Sameness won’t “sell” you. Differentiation will.
- Above-the-fold, attention-grabbing content. Make the top part of page one stand on its own as your personal brand calling card.
- Relevant keywords, especially in your ATS (Applicant Tracking System)-friendly version.
- Specific examples of contributions you’ve made that support your good-fit candidacy.
- Links to social networks, if you’re active on these sites, placed with your contact information.
- Links to relevant online articles or posts you’ve written, or been quoted in.
- Links to your employers’ websites in the Experience section.
- Plenty of white space for better readability. Remember that your digital resume is probably being read on a small screen.
Here’s what NOT to put on your modern 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 – 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”.
More About Executive Resume Writing