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Should You Write Your Own Executive Resume?

by Kim on November 23, 2015


Having reviewed thousands of executive resumes over the past 20 years or so, I can probably remember a handful or two that did not need a significant amount of work. Considering that the majority of my clients are corner office holders, or on their way down that hallowed hall to greater challenges, you’d think that their personally-written resumes would be door busters into the next realm of their career.

Unfortunately, even the most accomplished executive may not know that resumes have changed over the years, and that what worked to gain their first entry-level job is not going to have the same look and feel of an executive resume that would work in today’s market.  Frankly, for someone who is moving steadily up the career ladder, their resume is usually the last thing on their mind until they are asked to submit one for an unexpected opportunity.

The problem with writing your own resume (at any level) is knowing exactly how to position yourself as the primary candidate. You need to understand what formats work (or don’t), the type of information readers expect to see and the most effective manner in which to highlight accomplishments. Heck, many resumes I review don’t even include achievements, but rather are just lists of duties which do nothing to tell readers how you can come into their organization and solve their problems – which is what readers want to see.

Even if someone is an excellent writer of reports, presentations, correspondence or other business documents, there is still nothing quite like the “resume speak” that can transform an otherwise “list” of responsibilities into an achievement-rich document that can significantly improve interviewing opportunities.

It does seem like a good idea to save money and time by writing your own executive resume. The problem is, once it’s out there – in a company database, on the internet, etc., and it’s not a good one –  you’re stuck with that piece of paper doing you a disservice rather than driving attention. I’m not blaming anyone who wants to write their own resume, but when it comes to the hundreds of other job seeking competitors out there, it’s not always the best idea to try to write a document that continues to evolve over time as the employment market changes.

If you do decide to write your own resume, you should seek out the expertise of other professionals at your, or a higher level, to see how well the resume reads. Does is grab their attention immediately or do they have to read too long to figure out just what it is you do/did in your other jobs. Does it present you as an accomplishment-driven executive or someone who is only focused on what was done, not achieved? Is the verbiage compelling and flow well or is it a snooze fest that drones on and on without saying much?

There are so many different components to each individual resume that even if one wanted to use another’s as an example before writing their own, it still might not have the right voice.

While I don’t want to discourage anyone from writing their own executive resume, please remember that your resume will frequently be competing with others who have had their resumes written by talented professional executive resume writers. As I’ve done for the past twenty years, I offer free and confidential executive resume reviews (without any sales pressure) and would be happy to review yours.

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