Last week, I had the
opportunity to volunteer as a Resume Advisor for the Women For Hire career fair
held in Washington, DC.
I thought that this would be a good time to revisit a few tried and true resume best practices.
Think of your executive resume as your strategic marketing tool - the product that is being promoted is YOU and the document has to have compelling story that SELLS your benefits to recruiters and employers.
A. Have Target Position(s) In Mind
No matter how well you present your career background, if you are not keeping the employer's needs in mind, you are creating a useless document.
- Only include relevant experience, qualifications, education, training and projects that position you for your target position.
If you are targeting senior-level marketing positions then your entire resume should only speak to that - the fact that you have a real estate license and a Master in Social Work is commendable, but not relevant.
Note: It is acceptable to have more than one resume for various job targets; one resume cannot handle everything.
B. Have A Strong Resume Profile
In these days of electronic and technology-based communications, an employer or recruiter can be viewing your resume through a Blackberry or Palm Pilot.
Make sure that the top third of your executive resume really stands out; use a title header, personal branding statement and powerful summary that speaks your VALUE to employers. For example:
SENIOR MARKETING EXECUTIVE
Delivering Unprecedented Revenue & Market Performance for Companies in Competitive, Evolving Industries
High-End Luxury Products & Accessories
C. Give Your Experience Room To Breathe
Okay, I am on a mission with this one - do not try to squeeze 15+ years of progressive leadership experience and achievements onto one page. A two-page resume is acceptable and even expected when you are senior-level professional.
- Prioritize the content for your executive resume according to your target position and that would help you create a balanced document.
- Give preference to the positions and career achievements that you have build in the past 15 - 20 years and summarize any early experience in a paragraph (See example)
- Place education, training and certifications on the first page if they are critical requirements for the position. For example, a project manager should list PMP certification next to his/her name or senior auditor would indicate his/her CPA designation right up front.
- Do not be emotionally tied to any aspect of your career or accomplishments, if it is not RELEVANT or ESSENTIAL to your career goals and target company, leave it off the resume.
D. Show More Achievements And Less Tasks
Don't bore readers with a laundry list of your tasks and responsibilities instead focus on your achievements and how you have impacted a company's growth.
- Highlight top level aspects of your responsibilities like annual revenues, size of division, number of employees, amount of budget or P&L oversight.
- Use bullets to draw quick attention to key defining achievements and limit five achievements for each position going back to about 15 years.
E. Create Various Formats To Support A Multifaceted Job Search
While it is essential to have your resume in paper and electronic format, you need to maximize all avenues to promote yourself both online and offline.
- Develop your executive resume
in Word, PDF, and ASCII (text)
- Extract key highlights of your background
and experience to create a branded LinkedIn profile
- Take advantage of VisualCV.com to seamlessly transform your executive resume and career highlights into an interactive, online career portfolio.
- Create PowerPoint presentation from core sections of your executive resume and use it an introduction to new contacts or referrals.
Remember, the executive resume is
simply the key that opens the door for further in-depth conversation, but it
still has to compelling enough to warrant a phone call or a closer look.