Is your executive resume in bad shape and you can’t deny it any longer?
If it’s so bad you’re afraid to use it or if you’re using it and getting little or no response, your resume probably needs professional help.
Let me qualify this first. If your only job search efforts have been posting your resume to the big job boards (Monster, CareerBuilder, etc.), there may be nothing wrong with your resume.
These efforts often yield dismal or zero results. I touched on this earlier in Executive Job Search – Networking Works Best, But Try Niche Job Boards Too
I’m talking about the response you got when your resume was viewed by actual human eyeballs.
You want your resume to be an interview magnet. Here are some of the reasons your resume may not be hitting the mark:
1. Looks and reads like every other executive resume. You’re not like everyone else, are you? If your resume mimics everyone else’s, how can you possibly stand out and differentiate yourself from your competition?
On top of that, if your resume is a typical, lifeless, boring document, who’s going to care to read it and spend a little time getting to know you?
A really great resume that’s doing its job will differentiate you from your competition and immediately capture the interest of the reader. Hiring managers typically allow only 10-15 SECONDS for a resume to interest them before they move on to the next one.
If you were ever in the position of reviewing resumes and job candidates, how much consideration did you give to same-old resumes?
2. Functional format. Recruiters and hiring decision makers generally dislike a 100% functional format. It sends up a red flag that the candidate is trying to hide something, which is often the case. Don’t start out your job search journey by turning off the people you want to interest the most.
A combination of functional and chronological works best, in most cases. This allows you to highlight on the top third or half of the first page (prime resume real estate) your promise of value by bringing forward top achievements that in a strict chronological resume would have landed on the second page.
Following your hard-hitting, brand-focused initial profile, format the remainder chronologically. It just makes it easier for the reader to digest your career progression.
3. Anemic, time-worn “objective” statement. No one cares what you want. They care what you will do for them. Objective statements in executive resumes are passé and a waste of valuable space. Use this prime location for your brand statement instead.
4. Too generic. You may think that you can capture more opportunities with a general resume that covers a lot of bases. Not so. A resume without a clear target probably won’t hit home at all.
Keep in mind, as I always do when I’m writing a client’s resume, that the recruiters and hiring decision makers reading your resume are looking for specific information and a specific kind of person. The closer you come to that profile, the better your chances to make the short list of viable candidates.
People assessing executive candidates don’t have the time or inclination to ponder whether you have the goods to deliver in that job. Your resume has to hit them in the face with it. Everything in your resume has to be aligned with the requirements, qualifications, and personality traits they’re looking for.
If you don’t have insider information about a particular job you’re vying for, turn to online job descriptions (check out simplyhired.com) for applicable listings and include their relevant key words in your resume.
5. No chemistry. Your resume lacks any sense of what kind of person you are. Companies are looking for candidates who appear to be a good fit, so chemistry is very important to them.
Last week a VP of Sales client told me that, in his hiring manager role, he had reviewed hundreds of resumes over just the past year. The candidates who got a call back were the ones whose resumes made them come alive on the page and indicated the kind of person they were to work with.
This is where personal branding comes in again. Branding – your strengths, value, talents, and drivers – can position you among the who’s who in your field and areas of expertise, marking you as the best choice.
Concise “career success stories”, in a challenge – action – results format, help hiring managers imagine you in the job they’re trying to fill, tackling challenges facing the organization, and fixing problems.
6. You didn’t show them the money. They want to see clear monetized evidence that hiring you is a good investment. The key is to link your brand to your value proposition and ROI, by providing monetized proof of how you tap into your “softer” skills to deliver results that impact bottom line.
If you can’t quantify in dollars your value to past companies, look for other ways to quantify in areas such as time-saving processes, production/performance improvement, etc. Concisely describing a before-and-after situation can be extremely impactful. What was happening within a particular functionality before you stepped in? How fast and how much did things improve once your initiatives took hold?
7. Too long with too little white space. Keep in mind that your resume is a personal and career marketing document, not a career history. It’s not necessary, nor a good idea, to include every job and every accomplishment you can claim. Including jobs from more than 15-20 years ago may in fact open you up to age discrimination.
Think again of the reader who’s more than likely these days to be reviewing your resume on their BlackBerry. Make it easy for them to quickly access and digest what you need them to know about you. Your mission is to provide just enough compelling information to pique their interest and compel them to contact you.
Keep your resume to 2 pages and create supporting collateral documents (Executive Achievement Summary, Career Biography, Reference Dossier, etc.) to provide deeper slices of key contributions and further support your brand. Save some of your supporting documents to distribute once you’re in the interviewing process.
Figuring out how to create a really knock-out executive resume these days can be a challenge. Knowing what to include and what to leave out can be daunting. Maybe it’s time for a professional resume rescue?