I was recently contacted by an international executive for a resume review. Upon close examination, it was clear that her executive resume was written by one of my colleagues many years ago - inside secret, we can usually tell when a document was prepared by a certified resume writer:)
Given that in my mind, I believe she was a little disappointed when I sent back a list of resume red flags that were hampering her job search success...her response was "Gee, I got professional help with document about five years ago, are your recommendations based on personal preference or does my resume need that much work?" She had a very valid question.
It got me to thinking more about the world of executive work and employment/job search trends.
-- What has changed significantly in the past five years that would make your executive resume look outdated today?
-- Are companies looking for different executive leadership skills and competencies today versus five years ago?
Well, the answers to those questions are "yes" and "no" - the economic downturn that hit the world like volcano in 2007/2008 put a plethora of talented professionals and executives in unemployment; and as companies were trying to leverage limited resources to do more with less, they had the advantage because it became an employers' market.
What does that mean? It means that simply being qualified for the job, having top career achievements and being available to work are not enough. You have to go the extra mile to show employers that you are the right fit for them based on their business challenges and the solutions they need to stay relevant and competitive in today's global economy.
Sounds great, but what does it mean for your executive resume? Well, let's take a closer look at some of the key parts of an executive resume:
The Old Executive Summary:
Talented executive with 15-plus years' experience in all functional areas for high volume and batch manufacturing with proven strengths in plant and operational management, lean manufacturing and supply chain development. History of success in rapid turnarounds, business stabilization and new product development.
A resume summary like this work wonders many years ago, it clearly showed the areas of expertise and showed some value proposition. Where it falls short today - how does this executive stand out from others with a similar background? What does this executive offer that spells success for manufacturing companies, time and time again?
The New Executive Summary:
Forward-thinking, pioneering executive with success in devising manufacturing and plant operating strategies that eliminate redundancies, automate processes/systems, increase production output, and deliver productivity, quality, and efficiency improvements. Career spent developing award-winning initiatives and engineering solutions that saved Fortune 500 companies over $30M.
See the difference? In this second example, there are no questions or guessing about what value and business solutions this executive brings to the table.
The Old Job Description:
Manage daily activities for real estate portfolio for investment management company and supervise staff members.
This job description sounds too much like a job posting - maximize valuable resume real estate and tell employers about the scope of your leadership and management responsibilities and your business challenge. , but don’t get bogged down in minute details so that your executive resume ends up falling short on unique value proposition
The New Job Description:
Challenged to deliver 10% return on $700 million investment portfolio in unpredictable, evolving real estate industry. Oversee all daily activities including ROI maximizations, client relations, loan negotiations, and investment dispositions.
Once again, can you see the difference of how using quantifiable facts and placing your job role in context helps employers identify your value proposition?
The Old Career Achievement:
-- Transformed division’s safety and manufacturing standards and produced $1.2 million in savings.
Without a doubt that is an outstanding achievement and it is quantified, so how can it be improved? It is always helpful for employers and recruiters to understand the context or business situation where any achievement occurred. These are some questions that would come to mind:
-- What was the situation before hand?
-- Were operating and manufacturing costs above industry standards? Was company rapidly accumulating losses?
-- Was division on the verge of closure due to safety and manufacturing issues?
The New Career Achievement:
Always surround your career achievement(s) with enough context and contrast so that employers can really understand the extent of your contributions.
LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE: Assumed directive to streamline operations, eliminate occupational hazards, and decrease levels of manufacturing waste and air emissions for manufacturing facility plagued with poor health and environmental safety standards.
Turnaround Management: Propelled division’s safety and manufacturing standards to highest, best-performing operations in entire company and generated $1.2 millions in savings.
When paired with the right context and/or job umbrella statements, your career achievements take on a life of their own.
In summary, you want your executive resume to tell a story, have appeal and have a consistent theme. Take a look at your current resume and answer these questions:
-- What is the message you want to convey in the resume to employers?
-- Is there a consistent theme is the leadership roles you held (beyond the obvious functional expertise)?
-- What are employers repeatedly hiring you to achieve for them that others cannot?
-- What is your professional reputation and what are known for?
If you get stuck or your answers are coming up short, well...you know who you should be calling:)
About Abby, Executive Career Architect, Job Search Expert, Master Resume Writer
-- Does your executive resume accurately describe your management style and leadership capabilities?
-- Is your executive resume rich with compelling Challenge-Action-Results success stories that indicate your value contribution?
-- Does your executive resume convey enthusiasm or energy motivating employers to contact you?
-- Has your executive resume been generating a stream of employer responses for the right jobs?
If you have answered no to any of these questions, you should be talking to Abby Locke. She is an executive resume writer helps senior-level executives to achieve career success through cutting-edge, brand-focused career documents and proactive career management strategies.