If your job search campaign keeps netting you zero responses and you have been faithfully trying all avenues, you might consider re-thinking your resume strategy.
Your executive resume must be a strategic marketing document, not a career obituary or a string of job descriptions. After all, the only way you can attract attention is to be unique and differentiate yourself from the competition. Imagine for a second that you were reviewing tons of resumes that all looked and sounded the same. How would you determine the best candidate?
To present yourself as the best candidate and the right solution for companies, your executive resume should tell the reader who you are, what value you bring, and where/how you have been successful. Old, traditional resumes told employers about the past; today’s executive resume must indicate how you can make a difference in the future.
Here are a few truths I’ve learned coaching over the years:
- General, Non-Specific Resumes Get You Generic, Lackluster Results
Know the saying, “Rubbish in, rubbish out?” Well, the same is true for executive resumes – don’t be fooled into thinking that a broad, non-targeted resume will provide you with greater opportunities for a wide variety of jobs. On the contrary, the opposite is true. If you send an employer a resume that says you excel in sales, HR, technology, teaching, and training – the only place your resume will go is in the trash pile.
If you have several job targets, create separate resumes. This way each resume has its own unique story aligned with the requirements, qualifications, achievements, and personality traits for each target.
- Four- to Five-Page Career Obituaries Are Not Welcome
Sure, potential employers want to know what you have done over the years, but do you want to include the position you held 30 years ago (before the Internet was invented) to sell you for a job today? Even if you are an experienced job seeker with 20+ years of experience, you can still create an effective executive resume that highlights your key qualifications without choking the reader with pages and pages of content. Focus on the past 15 years by sectioning old jobs off into an “Early Career” paragraph.
- Concise Content Is Attractive
Condense your overall tasks and responsibilities into a brief paragraph (no more than five lines) that gives the reader a snapshot of what you do. Bring it to life with vibrant action verbs, industry keywords, and quantifiable facts.
Avoid the overused, passive phrases like, “Responsible for the development of marketing plans for clients in the West Coast region." Instead use strong language and include at least five achievements for each position flushed out on your resume. All the while, remember to edit and limit the resume length to two full pages.
- Chronological Resume Formats Are Always Preferred
Overwhelmingly, an executive resume in a chronological format helps the reader follow your career path and progression. While some circumstances may require a functional format, using it can suggest that you either have employment gaps or lack the required experience. Instead, use a combination format that blends the best features of both formats.
- Personal Branding Is Your Differentiator
While your direct experience and qualifications help determine whether you are a strong candidate, you will need more to make you stand out. A strong personal brand and brand statement concisely capture your strengths, values, talents, and performance drivers; they enhance your executive resume by positioning you among peers and marketing you as the best choice.
Senior Marketing Executive. Telecommunications & Technology Services. Driving operational initiatives that propel revenue growth, expand market share, and increase competitive advantage for startup, international companies.
Make sure that you communicate who you are, your areas of expertise or industry experience and your value proposition.
- The “Me-Oriented” Career Objectives Are Played Out
It goes without saying that your objective is to find a job and yes, it is understood that you are most likely seeking positions that offer growth opportunities and fit into your long-term career goals. However, employers are not impressed by what you want. Instead, they need to be sold on what you can do for them. Lead off your executive resume with brand-focused statements of value that show employers how they gain from bringing you on board. More importantly, demonstrate that you are a money maker not just a money taker.
- Measurable Results and Performance Count
For each position you held in the past 15 or so years, include concise “career success stories” written in the Challenge - Action - Results format. This helps potential employers see how you maximize your core skills and qualifications to solve problems and deliver results. It is also critical that you provide quantifiable, monetized evidence of your performance to really make your success stories come alive.
Don’t be afraid to sell yourself. Your resume is a selling document that conveys not just your experience but your confidence. Re-thinking your resume strategy is a tactical step in the right direction – the direction towards your next big job!