Raising a Mid-Level Resume to VP Level

Certified professional resume writer Ken Moore bridged a senior sales executive’s varying roles together to elevate a sub-par resume.


Sometimes it’s hard to recognize that your resume doesn’t really reflect your talents — or may even give readers the wrong impression.

Case in point: “Bill Johnson.”

“Bill,” who asked Ladders not to use his real name for this article, is a senior sales executive with proven leadership in business development. But to read his old resume read, you would think he was a mid-level strategic partner, not a vice president-level expert in both wireless technology and construction materials.

“Bill’s former resume would have given people a false impression that he only had mid-level experience,” said Ken Moore, certified resume writer with Ladders. “He was much more senior than he was portraying. Also, there was no focused job target in his intro.”

Johnson attended a networking event Ladders held recently at the New York Athletic Club, where he received a resume critique. (For more information on upcoming events nationwide, drop a line to the career services team.)

“You know, I was pretty skeptical about the whole thing,” Johnson admitted. “There are a lot of people trying to take advantage of this downturn, and lots of job sites that are polluted with garbage. I made sure to grill them about things. And I got my answer.”

The answer? His resume needed a professional’s touch.

“I decided I would try the free resume critique they had there at the event,” Johnson said. “They were very gentle about it. They went out of their way to critique it in a way that was considerate, but they ripped it to shreds. It was a gentle but constructive shredding.”

Johnson said he is really pleased with his new resume and much preferred collaborating on it to going it alone.

“I had a hard time reconciling my two very different sales roles in wireless and construction supplies,” Johnson said. “I also had a really hard time writing about myself, and I really wasn’t up with the style of resumes written today. Writing your own resume is kind of like cutting your own hair. I’ve tried it, but it didn’t exactly look right.”

Two roles, one goal
“One challenge we had with Bill was to bridge and condense his expertise in two very different fields,” Moore said. “But we also had to overcome some common mistakes in resumes that we see a lot, like the use of personal pronouns and the lack of things like revenue numbers and percentage of business increased.”

In a field as competitive as technology sales, it becomes incredibly important to quantify the bullet points in your resume. With guidance from Johnson, Moore was able to go back and retrofit the resume. He included hard numbers about business Johnson won and brands he supported, and he consolidated the document to focus on the past 10 to 12 years.

“Bill had a lot of one-liners,” said Moore. “Things like ‘#1 sales performer in U.S. for two years’ but no qualification of what that did for the business. Anyone can write that, but you need to qualify it in a more detailed fashion.”

The formula for a successful resume, according to Moore: Say what you want by saying what you are.

It’s not personal, it’s business

“You have to capture the reader of the resume right at the very beginning,” Moore said. “You have to point out your immediate career goal and show your value to a future employer.”

Moore said it takes subtlety to focus on what you want without overdoing the personal angle.

“Your career goal is not a personal objective statement,” Moore said. “It’s a branding statement that says, ‘This is who I am’ and ‘This is what I can do for your business.’ ”

What surprised Bill most about the process of having his resume tuned up by The Ladders’ professionals?

“They know what they are doing,” Johnson said. “It’s like the difference between an autobiography and a biography. You know what I mean? It’s like having a nice, finished, polished product that’s been run through all the quality checks. It was very worth it, and I got it back in a week. They were good and fast.”