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The New Executive Resume

by Kim on June 22, 2016

Frequently, many of my executive resume clients come to me for help because they haven’t needed a resume in a very long time. Because of that, they may not be aware of how resumes have evolved over the years or what readers expect to see in today’s resumes.

To demonstrate that you’ve kept current on today’s hiring practices and what decision makers are looking for, here are a few things to keep in mind. An effective executive resume is a mix of compelling verbiage, pleasing, yet eye-catching formatting and a focus on accomplishments vs. duties.
If you’re used to starting your resume with an objective statement, don’t. They just aren’t used anymore, nor are they valuable to the reader. Readers want to know what YOU bring to the table, not what kind of position you want. Instead, lead off your resume with a heading/title that clarifies who you are professionally. Things like “Senior-Level Sales Management,” “Chief Financial Officer,” “Project Management / Program Development,” “Technology Evangelist,” etc., whatever’s your specialty and/or type of position you are seeking.

This should be followed by a Summary of Qualifications Statement or Profile Statement that is designed to immediately convey your areas of expertise, history of accomplishment, your employment value and your brand (when written correctly, these should just flow together to tell a story). You want this section to immediately convey your ability to use your unique skills to produce measurable results through a proactive voice and well-written statements. If you don’t hook readers here, they may very well move on.

As for the employment section itself, it’s best to list jobs in a reverse chronological order unless your situation is very unique. While bullet points are preferred, it’s very acceptable to write a brief paragraph that outlines your key responsibilities, followed by a list of bullet points highlighting the results you generated. However, don’t stop at the result itself… explain to readers how results were achieved. For example, if you say that you increased sales by 30% or just list awards with no context, you really aren’t telling the reader much. That 30% increase? Well, that could a great or terrible number depending on a number of different factors such as how the industry is performing as a whole or a variety of market conditions. Readers need context because they are NOT going to take the time to figure out whatever your resume does not tell them.

Target your executive resume whenever you can. You should have a “base” resume that can be easily tweaked based upon positions applied for, and same goes for your cover letter.

Finally, try not to get hung up on “rules,” such as my least favorite which implies that your resume should only be one page. At the executive level, you will be doing yourself a disservice trying to cram an accomplished background onto one page. It’s not unusual at all for executive resumes to be up to three pages long, which is fine as long as the information is relevant and sells you well.

If all of this seems daunting, please don’t hesitate to contact me for a confidential and complimentary resume review and/or any questions you may have as to how best market yourself through a new resume.

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