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Maximizing your Executive Resume & Job Search Success

by Kim on December 7, 2015

If you’re an executive or over the age of 45, chances are that finding a job years ago was a lot easier than it is today and likely faster too. As your career progresses to higher levels of responsibility, the number of opportunities are fewer than they were when you were just starting out. Back in the day (yes, I’m dating myself), most positions were found via the classifieds in the local newspaper or through someone who knew someone who knew someone else (today, that’s called networking).

Unfortunately, times have changed quite a bit over the years, and it’s not uncommon for one job posting to receive hundreds of resumes, so it’s easy to get overlooked if you aren’t familiar with what readers want to see in today’s executive resumes.

No matter how accomplished you’ve been in your career or how many valuable contacts you have, you still need a very compelling executive resume. Additionally, there are a few other factors you need to consider before assuming that your background and title is going to be enough to land you on the short list of candidates.

In terms of competition, it’s probably much greater than you imagine. On average, and minimally, over 250 resumes are received for each corporate job opening, and if you’re relying only job boards for your search, you should know that Monster posts over 400K new resumes every week (multiply those weeks into months and the numbers are astounding). Not surprisingly, those numbers make it even more imperative that you are submitting the MOST effective resume possible and utilizing it the right way.

In addition to having a well-written resume in terms of proactive verbiage that sells you well, you also want to be sure that the formatting is professional, aesthetically pleasing and scannable, which means that it needs to be professionally organized so that it includes relevant information where it’s expected. If it’s too creative with lots of tables, columns, weird fonts, different colors, etc., it may not scan well.  Also, forget distributing PDF resumes as many ATS systems will not be able to scan much of the content.

You also want to ensure that you have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile that closely “mirrors” the content in your resume as to avoid confusion when someone ends up reviewing both. You might want to evaluate your picture to ensure it conveys both professionalism and approachability without being too stiff looking or casual. The picture should be rather current, not blurry and minus the beer can in your hand (trust me, those pictures are out there). First appearances are important and whether it’s politically correct or not, your picture is that first impression your profile makes. Today, your LI profile may be just as important as your resume, especially for heavy LI users.

Customization is also key, so I advise my clients to target their resumes for specific job openings; you don’t want to lie about any skill set you don’t have, but you do want to highlight key areas that you know are going to be searched for. Resumes today usually lead with a profile/qualifications statement vs. an objective statement, which really aren’t used anymore, and this is a good place in which to tailor your focus and also provide readers with an immediate understanding of what you are offering

There are mixed messages out there regarding cover letters. Some people hate them and will not read them, while others expect one. I’d err on the side of always including one because if you are in a “race” with another candidate and the receiver is expecting a cover letter, but you don’t include one, you might be nixed just because of that. A cover letter is also another marketing piece for you to use in your job search so it certainly can’t hurt even if it’s tossed aside.

Today’s competitive market can make job searching a bit confusing and more frustrating than ever merely because of extraordinary competition. While there is never a guarantee that even the best executive resume will get noticed, it’s still important to put your best self forward in all of your career marketing documents and search strategies. The more effort you put into your own job search, the greater the chances are for success.





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