Tag: executive resume tips (page 2 of 3)
Are you dusting off your VP or CXO resume for an active or passive job search? Making sure your executive level resume is a powerful marketing document is a wise investment in your career. It can set you apart from your competition, maximize the amount of interviews you land and ultimately play into how much a company offers you.
After all, you are negotiating with potential employers from the moment you connect with them to the time the offer is made. So everything that happens in that window of time plays into your offer … including how well targeted, well designed and compelling your resume is.
Here are five elements you will want to make sure your resume has:
#1: Targeted Format
Your resume must be compelling for the type of position you are focusing on. If you are a sales executive and you have a VP of Business Development resume or Senior Global Sales Executive resume for example, you are going to want to quantify your sales skills in terms of territory development, revenue generation, and types of skills associated with sales, plus secondary support skills such as client management customer service, public relations and marketing. The best way to match up your skills and create a magnetic attachment to your next position is to simply find a few representative positions and highlight all the keywords that match and resonate with you. Many of my clients successfully up-level their position titles using this method, which is simply writing TO where you want to go, not FROM where you have been.
#2: Value Proposition Statement
Under the heading of your resume you should have a value proposition statement, which is a 3 to 4 sentence overview of your focus and your strengths. Here’s an example of a value proposition statement for a technology executive:
Innovative & highly competent business and technology leader with 15+ years experience developing creative technology solutions that enhance performance, effect change, drive profits and growth. Proven reputation to…
Note: A value proposition statement is different from a personal objective statement because a personal objective is about what YOU want. A value proposition tells your potential employer what skills and strengths you have to offer THEM.
#3: Quantifiable Achievements
This is one of the most important components to your executive level resume. You need to communicate in your resume not just what you do, but what HAPPENS when you do it! This technique also helps employers envision you working with them and helping them with similar challenges and issues.
#4: Keyword Rich Content
Keywords, organized into a group called “core competencies” or something similar, will do two things for you:
- Influence the Scanner: It serves to potentially qualify you for more interviews, assuming those companies you are submitting your resume to use keyword scanning technology.
- Influence the Reader: Keywords are strengths that stand alone and therefore allow the reader to view your competencies independent of any past company associated with them. This has a positive psychological affect because it enhances the reader’s ability to picture YOU in the position they are working to fill.
#5: Two Executive Resume Versions
You will always want to have two versions of your executive resume:
- Clean Word Format: Your word version can be both printed out as a hard copy or attached as a Word document in an e-mail.
- ASCII Text Format: This will be used for all of your electronic submissions. Plain text retains its formatting and thus looks much cleaner on the receiving end. When saving a copy of your resume in this format, you will need to go in and clean up all of the symbols and spacing.
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Effective executive resumes do several things at once:
- They are visually attractive. White space in the resume – or “real estate” – is respected. Big blocks of text that are hard to read through are omitted.
- At the top of the resume, key words are used precisely to help the reader understand the executive’s focus of direction, and any metrics are added to help the reader understand the size and scope of the executive’s profile. Examples include P&L to $200 Million, Fortune 500 Companies, Manage Teams to 300, Mergers and Acquisitions, Turnaround Expert, and so on…
- Parsing out leadership highlights in a box or sidebar builds on their executive snapshot – again, helping the reader understand their expertise in quick sound bites. They match up their skills TO the positions and titles they are focusing on moving into. Relevant keywords in their leadership snapshot may include things like: MBA, Total Years of Industry Expertise, Board Appointments, Awards, Certifications and even community highlights such as nonprofit committee positions.
- Charts and graphs are used in moderation to help add powerful visuals to their executive resume and can help to accent particular career successes. Colors – again, used in moderation – liven the document, creating an easier read, and solidifying branding by reinforcing an industry or position color. Examples include red for some sales and marketing or larger than life personalities, and blue and grey for healthcare executives.
- Under professional history, a story is well constructed and includes the size of the company and whether the executive was recruited, appointed or promoted. Bullets lead with results first, as this keeps the reader’s interest. Leading with something such as, “Improved customer service ratings 75% in 12 months,” becomes a powerful motivator to the reader; they want to keep reading to understand why. The executive has successfully communicated that they understand their value to potential companies, which heightens the reader’s confidence in them.
Crafting executive resumes is considered by many professional resume writers to be an art. And although executive resume writing is a component of an unregulated industry (the careers industry), top internationally certified advanced resume writing certifications can be earned through highly credible associations such as Career Directors International.
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.
The first thing you need to define when building your CFO Resume – either yourself or with the help of an executive resume writer – is your focus of direction. Your resume should be built to the position you want, rather than a historical narrative of where you have been and what you can do. If you apply this principal and do your due diligence regarding your refocus of direction (which can include public vs private, profit vs nonprofit, regional vs global, industry, company size, etc.) your resume will ultimately give you more market leverage. I wrote in greater detail how to get focused here.
Once you have determined your focus, here are 5 additional important components to integrate into your resume:
You may perform many responsibilities very well, but what particular areas do you excel in? Is it fostering banking relationships? Reorganizations? Fast growth situations? Turnarounds? Strategic Planning? Once you have defined your top skills, how does this align with your career goals moving forward? If you have picked your next move well, there should be a harmony between your career choices and your top skills. Providing there is, you can begin to weave your top skills into your branding message, including your introductory statements, tagline and keywords at the top of your resume. You can check out multiple branding messages on my executive resume samples page.
The Breadth of Your Financial Acumen
Make sure to detail all areas of your financial expertise including accounting and finance, treasury, financial reporting, strategic planning, budgeting, tax strategy, insurance, internal audit, corporate compliance, and contract analysis and negotiations. Of course, include any supporting degrees or certifications such as CPA and MBA.
Match up your metrics with your career goals. If you are gunning for a position with a large global company and that expertise aligns with your background, at the top of your resume provide metrics, including the most P&L you have ever managed, teams, and geographical scope. So you might say, “P&L to $500M, Teams to 1600, and Global Scope: North America/Asia Pacific.”
Your Core Competencies
These should align and support your financial acumen. Identify your other leadership capabilities such as executive stewardship, enterprise strategy, performance management, team development and strategic growth plans.
Cutting Edge Technologies and Strategies
Today there is ever-increasing interest in cloud-based consolidated technologies that simplify processes and consolidate data. If you have any expertise with cloud-based financial and administrative systems, be sure to emphasis this front and center on your resume.
Your ability to demonstrate how you have achieved or revived fiscal health in your previous positions, though your utilization of metrics and quantifiable achievements, will add tremendous value to your CFO resume. Remember too, exemplary, well-balanced designs (with a respect for white space) and focused content that categorizes and calls out your accomplishments in short sound bites, are all critical factors in today’s leadership resumes.
Once your resume is aligned and written to the position you want next, you can start to explore which executive level job search strategies are best for your career transition.
A very common complaint I hear from executives who call me for the first time is that they have been sending out their executive resume for several weeks or months with no response. This creates mounting frustration for the executive whose question then becomes, “what is wrong with my executive resume?”
In my 17 years as an executive recruiter, executive job search coach and internationally certified advanced resume writer, I have identified three common denominators in the successful executive career transition. They are as follows:
- A clear focus of direction.
- Highly professional marketing collateral.
- The right job search techniques for that executive and their goals.
In this article I wish to address the second component: your successful marketing collateral. More specifically, your offline marketing collateral (online marketing collateral includes social media such as LinkedIn).
Executive resumes are leadership profiles that work hard to do many things at once; they tell your story in a compelling way, lead with the results that you have achieved in your career positions, and detail your primary leadership strengths in two ways.
The first way should give the reader a very good perspective of the basics (your focus, your industry expertise or target market, metrics including P&L and company size you’ve had experience in, and teams managed, to name a few) so that the reader is satisfied at the cursory glance. In other words, they feel they have a good basic understanding of your abilities and achievements. To do this correctly two things must be done:
- Your executive resume must be highly organized and written TO the position/industry you’re targeting.
- Your achievements need to be short and just cover the results you achieved. You do not have to go into the details of how you achieved your results on your resume when you are highlighting those major results on the top half or first page of your executive resume.
You can briefly and crisply cover the basic details deeper in the position history section of your resume. And this is the second way your leadership resume should highlight your strengths. In this section there are many ways to set up your career history, including calling out particulars and then showcasing an accomplishment next to it. For example: EBITDA Improvements, Asset Utilization, Profitability Improvements, Mergers & Acquisitions, Franchising, Performance Management, Operational Cost Reductions, Divestures, P&L Improvements, Global Market Expansions, and so on…
Setting up the stories regarding how you landed your positions, positive information including the size and scope of the companies and your leadership responsibility in them, and briefly outlining the challenges you faced in your executive positions and how you faced them – through to the results you produced – all work together to make a compelling and readable executive resume.
Design is of critical importance as well. Key decision makers are more receptive to executive resumes that are well organized, highly professional and show caring about one’s identity. The appearance of your executive resume truly matters.
A recent study tested 30 recruiters scanning resumes using a scientific technique called “eye tracking” which revealed a heat scan of where the professional recruiter’s eyes were reading 2 executive resumes. The recruiters spent considerably more time scanning the resume that had a clear and concise format, allowing them to more easily scan for pertinent information. This gives additional credence to what professional resume writers have been saying all along: a professionally designed and written executive resume helps professionals stand out and get noticed.
Would you like to learn how to write a powerful “cover letter” that gets results?
For over 10 years I have been writing crisp, concise, value proposition letters (today’s cover letter) for professionals all over the world that has helped them to secure multiple quality job interviews and offers. Many times my clients tell me their salaries increase 10k, 35k, have doubled, or more, Why? The right marketing. The right materials. Its not magic. These are people probably a lot like you.
And now, for the first time ever, I am hosting a personal coaching session to show you, step-by-step, exactly how to create your own value proposition letter.
On top of that, I am including several value proposition letter templates, a quick-start checklist and LIVE Q&A time with me to answer all of your questions and coach you personally, to make sure your value proposition letter is perfect and gets you results.
The course is 50 minutes and the investment is just $47. These sessions fill up fast and I do limit the group so sign up now to grab your virtual “seat.”
Don’t worry if you can’t be on the live call with me. I will send you everything including the call recording – all you have to do is register.
Click here to register for this session now!
These letters are of such critical importance and so tremendously valuable, I currently charge $297 to write value proposition letters for my clients. This is one of those topics that you learn once and benefit from over and over again.
Here is what you will learn and receive:
- The most common cover letter mistake that leads to qualified professionals being passed over for interviews.
- Battle-tested, step-by-step strategies to create a cover letter template that is powerful and gets results.
- How to easily tweak your cover letter to work for networking, recruiters, human resources and decision makers.
- A step-by-step plan to ensure your value proposition letter gets read… from beginning to end.
- My trick for adjusting the way you see yourself and communicate your value to others; so you shift from simply telling them what it is you do, to what happens when you do it.
- The one critical thing to leave OUT of your letter that will ensure more calls and interest.
- A 15-point action checklist that is easy to follow and check your letters against to ensure you are creating your value proposition letters correctly for maximum impact.
- 5 value proposition letter templates that you can glean from so you can see for yourself the subtle changes between each and what powerfully communicates branding, value and results.
- LIVE Q&A for the last part of the call so I can personally coach you and answer your questions (this portion is BONUS for those who want to join me on the LIVE call!).
- Extra BONUS: My bestselling e-book: The Career Artisan’s Interview Follow Up Secrets. In this guidebook I show you exactly what to do post-interview to make it to the final offers. Plus, I include a thorough troubleshooting section so you can avoid all of the typical mistakes people make, including the one where the interview ended great but no one called back – one of the most frustrating mysteries ever.
Click here to register for this session now!
Cover letters are one of the most common areas I see professionals making mistakes. This is an investment in yourself. Learning evergreen strategies (that are not going to be replaced by something new next year) once will create value for you again and again during the life of your career and will prevent avoidable mistakes that may be costing you interviews without even knowing it.
Inspiring your success,
Did you know that your cover letter (in the hands of a key decision maker) determines whether or not your resume gets read at all? Cover letters are so critically important to making the right first impression; you just can’t afford to go wrong here.
It can be tempting to want to skimp on really making sure your cover letter shines if you are applying for multiple jobs each week. But the good news is there are some really powerful tips I am going to share with you that will make this task efficient and highly effective! These are the same tips I apply to my clients’ cover letters – letters that secure them multiple interviews!
Here are several ways to easily get started crafting highly compelling cover letters that get great results:
Tip #1 Shorter is Better
I know a career consultant who writes cover letters for 500k+ executives who never uses more than 100 power-hitting words. I fell in love with this technique the moment I heard of it. It makes total sense! Here’s how to do it:
- Write your letter, then come back in a couple of hours and take out all of the superfluous words and phrases you find.
- Next, highlight all of your BEST words and phrases (you will probably have a few to add or reword at this point).
- Finally, revisit your letter in an hour and edit any erroneous words just one more time.
Now you are left with a tight, crystal clear letter, brimming with power hitting terminology! You won’t have to do this with every cover letter you write. After you practice this technique a few times, you will quickly learn to get it right the first time!
Tip #2 Simplify Your Language
Want to know the mark of a really good cover letter? Give it to someone to read who is in another industry. If they are impressed by your accomplishments and can understand what you are communicating, this is a really good sign you have an effective letter! Specifically, your letter should be understandable by someone not directly linked to your position of interest. It should be simple and clearly outline your accomplishments.
A big mistake I often see in executive level cover letters is a string of hundred dollar words in a sentence. Check your letter and remove any strings of “eye-glazers” as I like to call them. You will be amazed how this will lighten and brighten up your letter instantly.
Tip #3 Be Focused and Clear
You must know why you are writing what you are writing. Either you are writing a general value proposition about your strengths and achievements in a particular role (CEO/COO/VP of Operations etc.) or you are responding to a job opening. In either case, you want to be completely focused on communicating your maximum value. If you shine in two key areas, write about them and remember to finish your statements with examples of results you have obtained. If you can add a % or $ to those results, that is preferable.
If you are responding to an actual job description, the most important thing you can do is highlight all of the key words and phrases in that job description that you match and parrot those key words and phrases back in your cover letter. If you have ever written a job description, you know just how maddening it is to read through a stack of cover letters that mention little, if anything that matches what you are looking for! A resume attached to a cover letter such as this rarely gets read.
Using these three simple, yet powerful tips will help increase companies’ interest in you as you confidently set the tone and pace for leadership and control – so you can secure more interviews!
What is it – that secret thing that top resume writers do that make their clients look so darned appealing? I am addressing this article to c-level executives (CEOs, COOs, CMOs, CIOs etc.), but these points are really applicable to most every resume.
A really well-written leadership resume says, “I know who I am, what I am good at and where I want to go.” Most (not all) self-written resumes I read leave the reader guessing here. They are almost written with a mindset of, “if I write down all the things I am wonderful at, surely someone out there will read it, find a spot for me and know where to put me.” You can almost hear the author’s voice clearly stating this through the thicket of dense, broad information packed on the first page of their resume.
You might say to yourself, “But I really don’t know where I want to go. There are so many options out there, how can I possibly take the lead? It feels much more natural to put myself out there and see what comes of it.”
You certainly have the right to feel and think this way, but when it comes to your resume, you need to demonstrate much more focus. You need to approach the entire resume as a clear-cut marketing document – just like a business would.
Focus involves understanding what kind of industry/position you want to target. This makes it easier for your reader to have confidence in you. The following are simple, yet focused keywords that help your reader understand exactly where you see yourself:
- Division Director/General Manager – Multinational Companies – Technology Services
- Chief Marketing Officer – Fast Growing Restaurant & Hospitality Chains
Your branding message is another key feature of your resume. This message is peppered throughout your document in continuity. Many times it is a nice touch if you can offer a “branding statement” at the top of your resume. This can be in the form of a short statement or a quote from you or another person. It can be a statement of philosophy or work ethic. Above all, it is a promise of the experience someone is going to have when they are given the opportunity to work with you.
Here are several examples:
- 15 Years’ Excellence Supporting Growth With Innovative Technology Strategies & Business Intelligence
- A good leader is one who can tell another how to reach his or her potential; a great leader is one who can help another discover this potential for him or herself.” – Bo Bennett
- Sophisticated financial expertise with tactical execution of profit-generating initiatives that exceed company-mandated goals
15+ years’ experience developing a large COI network. Colleagues refer to me as their “Secret Weapon.”
Here are a few points at the top of one executive’s resume that are so strong, the branding happens on its own!
- Collaborate with Top Minds In Government & Industry | Included in FORTUNE Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People In Finance” | Executed 9- and 10-Figure IPO’s
Here is a focused statement for a top project engineer:
- Delivering Complex, Multi-Million Dollar Projects Raising Profit & Enhancing Safety With Process Improvement
The last point I want to share is on design. Repeated surveys show that decision-makers are 6 times more responsive to images that express professionalism, attention to detail and a “sense of caring” about identity. The appearance of your resume matters! The right layout can work absolute wonders for you and a good writer (who is also a good marketer and has an eye for design) knows how to work out tables, charts, boxes and graphs, as well as use bold and italic words, different complimentary colors and spacing to draw the readers eye down through the document. This way the reader scans the most critical information at the cursory glance and can get a baseline of perspective on you and your skills.
It took me many years to learn how to do this very valuable service for my clients! I have always put just as much emphasis on a nicely designed and laid out document as I have good, tightly written content. A readable, well-organized resume is attractive, magnetic, and shows caring and initiative on the part of the candidate. It is all of these subtle yet powerful components that go into a well-thought-out and well-designed resume.