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Avoiding Executive Resume Writing Mistakes

by Kim on October 16, 2015

If the last resume you wrote was 20 years ago shortly out of college, you need to know that resumes have changed, particularly when it comes to executive resumes. Gone are the days when a resume leads with an “Objective” statement followed by a list of duties, where each point started with the dreaded words, “responsible for…”

There are quite a few resume missteps that people still make, so it’s important to try to forget what you learned in the past and focus on how a well-written executive resume can help your relevancy and show that you are well-versed in how to best market your executive career.

Aspects to avoid in creating your executive resume today include:

  • Too “me focused,” without enough information about team challenges, team projects and how you’ve helped contribute to your past employers vs. “I did this, I did that,” type of approach. Remember, you want to connect with key decision makers, so a “look at me” strategy won’t necessarily do that and may come across as self vs. company serving.
  • Using an objective is out; actually, it should never have been in because, again, it is too “me focused.” Readers don’t necessarily care what you want out of a new job…they are more concerned with what you can offer THEM. You need your executive resume opening (a summary statement, qualifications profile, etc.) to provide readers with an overview of what you offer them in terms of skills, specific areas of expertise and ability to deliver measurable results.
  • There is a fine line between developing an executive resume that is too creative vs. one which lacks any character at all. Unless you are in the creative field, you want your executive resume to convey professionalism, confidence and an understanding of what is expected in today’s resumes. You will want to highlight your achievements in clear bullet points vs. cramming everything you did in a 10-year job into a difficult-to-read, clumsy paragraph. A conservative, yet stylish resume can/should also be prepared for applicant tracking software which is not difficult to do if you avoid crazy fonts, color changes, lots of tables, etc.
  • Too personal. While you want your readers to better understand what you can bring to the table, you don’t need them to know your age, your GPA from 1986, your love of wine tasting, your family’s names and ages or your own age.
  • Missing the target. If you have two varied skill sets and/or numerous areas of specialty, you need to target your resume for the reader. If you are skilled in both sales and finance, you can easily tweak your opening summary to focus on one or the other. Obviously, your experience “is what it is,” but that too can be altered so that when applying for a position that is more finance than sales, you can make sure that your financial accomplishments take center stage, and vice versa. Read job ads carefully, and target as you can with the relevant information/skills asked for.
  • Irrelevant details. If you’re like many executives, you may have 20 years or more of experience. Most readers focus on the most recent five to seven years, so you can skip the mundane details for jobs older than that…you can even leave off your very early jobs that have no relevance to what you’ve done recently. Don’t make the mistake that readers want to see every single thing you’ve done in the past 20 years.
  • Unprofessional or hard-to-type email addresses. If your personal email is sexybeachdude@mailman.com that’s not the image you want to present. Create a professional gmail account that is easy to type and includes some formation of your name; also, try not to use your work email address, as it might seem to some that you are mixing business with job seeking.

I have several blogs focused on how to create the most effective executive resume, and I always offer confidential and free executive resume reviews in order to help maximize your executive job search.

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