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Don’t Risk Rushing your Executive Resume

by Kim on April 12, 2016

How many times have you been asked to submit your resume, only to remember that you have no idea as to when it was last updated? You either hastily prepare a haphazard list of your past duties, sit for hours and wonder how in the world you’ll be able to write one that “wows” or, worse, do nothing at all, only to end up sending a 10-year old resume with a lame note explaining why It has not updated.
It’s extremely important that you are always “resume ready,” no matter how busy work and life is, especially if you are already on or aiming for the executive track. If you haven’t needed a resume for years, then lucky you…seriously. One would think that your history or laudable track record would speak for itself, but you still need that “piece of paper” to present to an executive board, search committee, executive recruiter or potential new employer. Unfortunately, readers will not assume anything that isn’t stated on your resume, and if it’s confusing, they won’t take the time to figure out why. Even if you have a large networking base and a solid industry reputation, eventually that piece of paper is going to be needed when you aren’t present and have to rely only on your resume doing the talking for you.
Now that we have that cleared up, have you ever tried to write your own resume? Did you find it easy to put together, taking very little time? If so, then you may be shortchanging yourself. If it took hours, yet you still feel that it’s not a true representation of what you can truly offer, what do you do?
Over the course of 20 years, I have reviewed thousands of resumes, mostly at the executive level. However, it’s been rare that I have seen any which haven’t needed work of some sort. I’ve seen resumes that read like a high-schooler’s first-year job, some that are more than 10 pages long (and not from academia settings where that can be normal), some riddled with typos and/or information that is not even relevant. I’ve seen resumes where each bullet point leads with the dreaded terms “Responsible for…” with no mention of how those duties translated to results. I’ve seen ten-year long positions summarized in just one or two sentences, and I’ve seen many containing useless information, particularly when that information is only describing something “great” that happened more than twenty years ago.
Writing your own resume, the story of your career, is not easy, especially when you aren’t sure what to include or how. There is an acceptable “resume speak,” that today’s readers, hiring managers and/or recruiters expect to see. They want to see proactive verbiage and achievements, not lists of duties. They want to see how you generated results, not what you did all day, which for some busy execs, could amount to copious, boring lists of blah, blah, blah, as necessary as those duties are.

If you are confident that you can write a solid resume that gets noticed and sets you apart, you will need to perform a comprehensive assessment of your skills, interests and abilities before you write your resume. You also want to develop a very strong summary statement that will immediately and impressively let readers know the type of candidate you are and what you can bring to the table. This statement can either prompt further reading or it can kill your chances if it doesn’t immediately position you as a highly accomplished professional capable of taking on greater responsibility.
It could take you several weeks to complete your resume, tweaking here, rewriting there or even starting over a few times to make sure that it’s “just right.” It’s very common to write several drafts before finalizing your resume.

After writing the first or second draft, read it and make sure it clearly states the skills and abilities that are relevant for the position you’re seeking. Don’t put unnecessary information in your resume that have nothing to do with your qualifications for the job. You also need to be sure that you are highlighting your accomplishments through a strong, proactive voice. Once you think you are finally done, it’s a good idea to have a trusted colleague and/or mentor read it over. Better yet, find a qualified executive resume writer to provide you with a review and/or suggestions to ensure that the resume is marketing you to the maximum potential.

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