The first conversation I have with nearly every C-level executive who comes to me starts with their sheepish confession that, although they know the value they offer and they’re pretty good writers, they have no idea how to put that on paper so they’ll get the attention they deserve.
Likewise, many of my clients have either never heard of LinkedIn, have posted only a bare-bones lackluster profile, and/or struggle with how to leverage their value proposition in their profiles.
I reassure them that they’re in good company. Everyone has trouble distancing themselves enough to objectively assess and strategically position themselves, and everyone I talk with is baffled by how their resume fits into the whole Internet-driven executive job search process.
If you’re struggling with your resume and other career marketing communications, these stumbling blocks are probably the culprits:
1. You’re not in touch with what’s happening in today’s executive job search.
Most of the top executives I talk to either never needed a resume to get a job or haven’t been in a job search for many years, so their resumes are severely outdated.
The world of job search has changed a lot within just the past couple of years. Understand that these days your resume may not be your first introduction to the people you need to attract.
As a top-level executive, you’re undoubtedly being Googled by recruiters and hiring decision-makers. They probably know about you and are looking for solid information about you online, well before you know they’re interested in you.
Are you visible online in lots of places and are your Google results accurate and on-brand? If not, you need to get to work building a brand-reinforcing online footprint. Online social networks, especially LinkedIn, are powerful tools to tap into.
The same decision makers are also trolling LinkedIn for top talent, so you’d better be there too, with a brand-solid profile. Your personally branded resume will be the foundation for your LinkedIn and other online networking profiles. More about personal branding in a bit.
You’ll still need a resume, even if it’s required sometime later in the process, but as you’re writing it, think beyond the resume and keep in mind that you’ll also be using the information you mine about yourself to reinforce and extend your brand online.
2. You’re writing your resume without a clear target in mind.
I can’t tell you how many clients tell me their resumes need to cover several bases, because they have expertise in so many areas. Although it’s wonderful to have such a diverse background, I explain that an unfocused, generic resume will likely be worthless in their job search.
Step one, before any writing begins, is identifying your target audience, so you’ll know who you’re writing to and what they’ll want to see in your resume.
If your resume isn’t deeply focused on a specific target, how can you align what you have to offer with what the position requires and the company needs?
Everything in your resume must powerfully position you as the solution to whatever problems are impacting that particular organization. Extraneous information underuses the limited space on your resume.
Do some research and gather as much information as possible about your target job(s) before crafting your resume.
3. You’re unaware of the importance of executive personal branding today.
This perilous economy and job market demand more than ever that you differentiate yourself from your competition in your career marketing communications.
Linking your personal attributes, passions, and strengths to your value proposition – in your personal brand – is the best way to provide evidence of your unique promise of value to your next company.
Lead your executive resume and LinkedIn profile with your stand-alone personal brand statement that vividly announces what you’re offering and what sets you apart from others who do the same work.
4. You’re afraid to give yourself permission to be authentically you and generate a little chemistry.
What is unique about you is what will sell you in your resume and LinkedIn profile. Be brave enough to boast about your standout achievements, but back them up with crystal-clear examples showcasing how you made things happen.
Give an indication of who you are, in a colloquial way that speaks from your own voice. Generating chemistry is one of the goals you should be striving for when writing compelling personal marketing communications. It helps you make an instant connection and lasting impression.
With LinkedIn’s multi-dimensional features and applications, you’re somewhat freer than in your resume to showcase your personal chemistry and brand. And you’re not bound by the requisite 2 page constraint of a resume.
5. You’re not willing or don’t know how to ruthlessly edit.
Many executives I work with who tried hard to write their own resumes told me they spent many hours laboring over what to include and what to cut. They found it extremely painful to leave out pieces of their career history for the sake of brevity – everything was important and critical to include!
They fail to understand that a resume is not a comprehensive career history. It’s a career marketing document that needs to say just enough to capture the attention of decision makers and compel them to contact you.
Understand that these people are overloaded and have very little time to assess each candidate. And they may be reviewing your resume on their Blackberry.
A 3-page (or longer) resume will probably be ignored completely. You can, and must, state your case within 2 pages.
6. You don’t know how today’s resume should look and read.
At the C-level, you should be getting your resume in front of human eyeballs and not just tossed into a database for scanning. Put yourself inside the heads of decision makers reading your resume or LinkedIn profile.
Your resume has to be easy to read, digitally and on paper. Keep your message to the point, in a clean format with plenty of white space that will entice them to read further. Similarly, avoid big chunks of dense information in your LinkedIn profile.
What passed for a well-formatted resume a couple of years ago, probably isn’t going to work so well now.
For both your resume and LinkedIn profile, pack a punch above the fold – the first area to be seen and read. If you don’t capture attention right away, the reader may move on to the next candidate without considering you.
You may not be able to get beyond roadblocks like these on your own. As a business manager and leader, you’re accustomed to sourcing the best people to manage projects and leaving it up to them to do their own magic.
Maybe it’s time to do the same with your executive resume and other marketing communications — to get the best possible results.