Looking back, I have probably coached and written resumes for over 4000 executives in all kinds of industries. Here are a few things I have learned along the way that I hope you will benefit from.
- Worry about things that never happen.
Most clients I work with have shared numerous worries they thought would hold them back, like their age, too little or too much salary, the economy, a shrinking industry, too many jobs in the last 10 years, and being fired or laid off (just to name a few). I am happy to report that these same executives went to on achieve – and in many cases exceed – their career goals. How did they do it? Usually through a combination of the following:
- Education that the reality of their concerns was often overemphasized to the point of being counterproductive.
- Obstacles were minimized or eradicated through a well-planned marketing strategy.
- An expertly crafted resume showcased their strengths and was in sync with their goals.
- Believe they can’t successfully change industries.
I love to hear the excitement in my clients’ voices when they are shown that successfully changing industries is more about their plan, their resume, their networking approach, and they coaching they receive than their experience!
- Feel they interview very well, when they don’t.
“Just help me land the interviews and I will do the rest.” I have heard that dozens of times from seasoned professionals that made one simple error: They mistook their amazing charisma and people skills for great interview skills. Believe me, there is a big difference. I have seen firsthand how just answering one question the “wrong way” quickly leads to a lost candidacy.
- Can’t write an interest-generating resume.
There are multiple reasons for this, such as:
- The use of industry jargon (resumes need to be written with an audience of at least 5 different departments in mind).
- The inability to write objectively.
- Failure to craft a resume from a marketing perspective.
- Writing about what was accomplished and not what happened as a result.
- Didn’t know how much career coaching and marketing would help them, until they used it.
I can personally relate. I didn’t realize how much a business coach would help me until I hired one. It’s respectable to want to do things for ourselves – and there is a beneficial degree of learning in it – but if you have ever played sports and had an excellent coach, or studied under a dynamic teacher, then you have already experienced the value that a true professional can bring and the many ways they can help you to reach your full potential.
I hope if you have identified with any of these points, it will help you to quickly and easily take action to shore up areas for improvement. I promise this will result in a much more enjoyable and fruitful job search for you!
At the CEO level, your career transition landscape has a unique terrain: there are fewer C-level positions, they come up less often and each has its specific requirements. As a smart CEO, you will first plan your upcoming transition by defining and writing down your wants, needs, career goals and driving motivators. You will want to layer in some due diligence respective to the short and long term economic growth and stability of the industries you have in your sights. The reason this due diligence is so critical is because today’s leadership resume must be written to what you wish to do moving forward vs. a chronological list of what you have done.
Demonstrating you can communicate your focus, your purpose and your value inspires confidence and will attract the positions you wish to explore.
Once you have a plan in place, this is the bull’s eye that you can now create and design your CEO resume for. A primary complaint from C-level executives, and one of the major issues with C-level executive resumes, is that they contain too much information. You may find that you have done and achieved so much in your career, you can’t find the objectivity needed to understand what to leave in and what to leave out of your executive leadership resume.
As a CEO, you need to communicate certain things in your resume that demonstrate your value in a C-level role to potential companies. In addition, you may be interviewed by a board of directors, and often in these cases, they like to see an executive biography in addition to your resume.
Hiring a professional resume writer to help craft a CEO resume can not only serve as a huge weight off of your shoulders, but bring you a substantial ROI in many ways, including:
- Helping to present yourself in a highly professional polished manner.
- Helping to showcase the metrics of your accomplishments.
- Helping to communicate the value that you bring to the table.
All of these benefits can and do have a positive effect on your interviews and offers. Regardless of who writes your CEO resume, there are two critical factors you must not miss.
The first is to write to the positions you are focusing on. You can start this process by finding 2 or 3 representative positions and then literally highlighting the keywords and phrases in those positions that match you. From this you will be able to see running themes and gain clarity on your own personal branding (what you are attracted to) as well as understanding what keywords and phrases to layer in.
The second is to be sure you are speaking to the needs of the companies with whom you have defined represent ideal positions for you. At the CEO resume level, it is a mistake to use an old resume or a 6-page resume which may contain task-oriented details from past positions you held 15 or 20 years ago. At this point in your career everything needs to be recalibrated. Older positions may be placed in a “Past Career Highlights” section and given a brief nod with perhaps one notable accomplishment listed. For more recent positions, again, be sure to omit any task-driven details and concentrate on leadership skills. You may wish to emphasize leadership skills such as your visionary ability, how you empower organizational change, drive profitability through developing and initiating business goals, provide overall corporate direction, and inspire core teams across various divisions and reinforce corporate branding.
If you find yourself unsure of what accomplishments of yours to highlight, simply refer back to the ideal career positions you unearthed. Whatever they are asking for, those are the skills you match and reflect back to them using quantifiable accomplishments wherever and whenever you can.
If these basics are not reflected in your CEO resume, it could cost you a job interview or offer. You don’t have to list your entire detailed career history in your leadership resume. Simply present a polished document that shows what kind of a CEO you could be to their company.
If you are a successful CEO and have recently found yourself in the job market, you may have run into a few “surprises.” You may be sending your resume out to a small network of contacts, a few recruiters and perhaps applied for a few positions listed on job boards; yet, for all that effort, you may not be landing interviews.
There are many reasons that your CEO resume may not be getting you any traction. Here are a few points to consider:
- Your CEO Resume may be dated. Have you done a quick search for CEO resumes on the internet and clicked on images? Or Googled top executive resume writers and looked at their award-winning executive resume samples? Leadership resumes have changed a lot in the last few years. More attention to visual design, layout, charts and graphs which detail accomplishment metrics and incorporate colors are all techniques that executive resume writers will use to make the professional documents they create stand out. Other executives are investing in hiring professional resume writers to create highly compelling, professional CEO resumes. They understand the value of standing out from the pack and the criticality of presenting themselves in the best light possible, including improving the ease with which their marketing documents can be read.
- Your CEO Resume may be too long, contain too much information and be too text dense. Written communication has become more distilled and is most easily assimilated in short sound bites. This is where a good design can make a profound difference for you. By creating tables or call out boxes to showcase key leadership strengths, you can highlight things such as years of experience, how much P&L you have been responsible for, the size of companies you have expertise with and any special skills, such as reorganization or fast growth environments and advanced degrees. If you feel you are lacking in any of these areas, parsing out a section just to highlight key skills will help to accentuate the core abilities you do bring to the table and minimize any concerns about skills you may lack. If your resume is 3 or 4 or more pages long because after 20+ years you have “seen and done everything,” then it can be a challenge to create a resume that it more in line with the expected 2-page executive resume which is the most reasonable and easy to read. You might struggle with knowing what to put in and what to leave out of your resume. If you are going after particular CEO roles, listing all of your successes in detail – including what you did 15 years ago as a sales manager – may leave the impression that you are a little out of touch. Highlighting relevant results, not tasks, is the name of the game with today’s CEO resume. You probably have done some amazing things in your career, but the ones to list in your executive resume are those that align with your goals moving forward.
- Your resume may not be focused. Again, a generalized overview of what you do is good. But companies, board members and top executives expect that you come to the table with a clear message that communicates your value and especially your branding. I like to think of your branding as “the promise of an experience; the experience a company or team will have when they work with you.” What are the main things you are known for in your leadership style? What are you doing when you are loving your work? What principals do you stand for no matter what? What special skills are you reputed for? Are these points communicated in your CEO resume? If not – they should be.