Tag: executive resume writing
If you’re an executive looking for trending advice on how to update your resume for maximum result, follow my executive resume writing tips below!
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It’s time for the 2018 TORI Awards, the resume writing industry’s most prestigious resume writing competition. I am excited to be a top-tier judge for the second year in a row. Thank you Career Directors International!
View past TORI Award winners and their award-winning resumes here.
Thinking about hiring and executive resume writer? In my article, Five Things To Consider Before Hiring An Executive Resume Writer, I walk you through five important factors you should take time to assess before making your decision.
See the other articles I’ve written for Forbes as a member of the Forbes Coaches Council.
When creating your resume you need to write TO what you want versus FROM where you have been. Here are some secret tips from the vault that will help you to create a compelling executive resume:
Tip #1: Keywords and Summary Statements
One of the most important things to remember is that the keywords at the top of your resume create the reader’s initial perception of you by defining alignment and scale. You need to help the reader understand and appreciate your capabilities and career focus during a cursory glance.
For example, you could say:
Transformational Leader | Team Builder | Government Projects
But what do the keywords above really tell someone who does not know you? If you said, “Very little,” I agree! You have just used prime real estate to make a rather subtle ripple vs. a big splash.
Much more effective:
General Manager | Aviation and Aeronautics | Global Government Projects to $1 Billion | Transformational Technologies
Key points after that may include elements such as:
MBA, 9 Advanced Aeronautical Certifications | NASA Award Winner | Teams to 60 | 20+ Years’ Experience with World Class, Global Aerospace Companies
The second bunch of keywords supports your alignment and scale—and they “make your argument.”
Tip #2: Your Resume is Two Resumes in One
Your resume has to be effective during a cursory glance and also the deeper read—essentially, two resumes in one.
The first resume is the most important—it’s the snapshot … and YOU control where the eyes go. Your cursory-glance resume is laid over the entire resume—everything you color, bold, underline, or put in a call-out box is what the eyes are drawn to first—and thus it needs to include the following information for your reader to be “satisfied” at the end of 10 or 15 seconds. These little nuances are extremely powerful:
- Scale: Include things such as P&L to $600M or budgets to / industry or industries / company sizes / locations: global or national or regional or select: North and South America and Asia Pacific / Teams to 350 / Degrees | Board Positions / Certifications etc.
- Career Focus and Alignment: The bullets must support the direction you want to go in—not just the successes you have had.If you want to do turnaround work for large corporate divisions you will focus on all the turnarounds, reorganizations and transformations, and re-engineering of processes, setting a company up for sale, etc. Amplify your successes in the direction you want to go. Connect the dots for your reader.
- Front Load $$%% Metrics: It says to the reader, “Hey, I understand what you want to read because I am a leader.” It sets perception and builds confidence (in you). It also makes the conversation more fluid, creates excitement during the interview, and, at the first read, helps the reader picture you achieving similar results for them.
Tip #3: Design
The reason top executive resume writers pay so much attention to the balance and visual design of a client’s executive resume is because when the resume looks a little different, a little better, at the first glance the reader thinks, “Wow, this looks good … and a little different. So the content must be different too.” And thus, they stay on the page a little longer.
Well-organized information parsed out in sections and given enough white space between bullets, etc. has a similar effect. It makes the document easier to read and assimilate—thereby having a pleasing (not irritating) effect on the reader.
Most seasoned, credentialed resume writers “get” these points. Just like any other business investment in graphic design, professional photos, websites etc. “pays off,” investing in a professionally designed resume has the same effect—and usually pays for itself … though it often yields a return on investment many times over!
As an executive, if you want to up-level your executive title, make more money, or land a position at a specific, top-tier company such as Apple or Google, then the first thing you need to do is focus your executive resume on what you want vs. where you have been.
- First things first … make sure your target industry/company is stable, growing, and in general, has a good long-term economic outlook.
- Next, find two to four relative job descriptions that match and resonate with the title and industry you are focused on. Then, highlight the keywords and phrases in each position that you resonate with. Pay attention to running themes and patterns in each of the position requirements.
- Now frame out your executive resume with these positions as your touchstone and start to build out your keywords and taglines based on what your aligned position descriptions are calling for, and your core leadership strengths and attributes.
- Your summary statement should only be four to six lines deep and mirror the top strengths being asked for in your ideal job description. For example, if your ideal job lists “a strategic leader” who “has led turnarounds” and “has heavy expertise in fast growth organizations and M&A’s” as the top three qualifications, THAT is what you need to center your summary statement around (providing you have all of those skills, of course). As a top executive, you have a lot of skills and strengths; the challenge is mirroring what your next role is asking for.
These are the four most critical initial steps to solving the majority of executive resume issues, especially when it comes to “knowing what to put in and what to leave out.” Essentially, begin at the end and work backwards.
Now for the less-talked-about psychology behind these actions: If you are indeed interested in a company such as Apple or Google (the examples I used above), go to their websites as part of this executive exercise; look at the CXO players, their website colors, the keywords they use over and over again—and let the feel of the culture and the website really sink in. Mirror that back to them in the form of your communication, both written and verbal.
This is simply leadership and marketing 101 applied to your executive job transition. It is not something often spoken about from executive resume writers—but it should be! It’s truly the X factor in your ability to take a leadership approach in your 100K+ job search. Just like the other executive leadership initiatives and positions you have held in your career, when you manage your executive job search you are bringing everything you are into it—your mental outlook, your emotions, and of course, your focus of alignment and marketing collateral. You want everything to vibrate at the highest level possible and peg initial impressions as favorably as you possibly can. Where it gets set in motion tends to continue in that direction at the higher level.
That is how my executive clients are able to propel themselves to greater heights at an accelerated rate. They make it look effortless, though in-depth planning and preparation goes on behind the scenes!
One of my recent clients was a top construction superintendent. He had worked on dozens of important projects, across multiple industries, for many years and with an excellent track record. But he had been sending his resume to top recruiters and construction firms for 6 months with NO results.
I crafted a visually appealing resume for him that targeted the size and scope of position he wanted to focus on and to make a long story short, within 7 days of distributing his new resume, he had 4 interviews with top construction companies and an offer was already on the table at double his previous salary. That’s a 100% pay raise! And that is why professionals hire experienced, certified resume writers. The “career” ROI is often phenomenal.
You pay to earn project management certifications and construction degrees and give your all with years of on-the-job training. The above story is a perfect example of why you should not overlook the fact that mastering the art of communicating why someone should hire you is equally important.
Are you wondering what I did to this construction superintendent’s resume to grab the attention of the same key decision makers that had let his original resume slip by them just a few months prior? Here are some key steps I took that you can use too (and by the way – these tips are applicable whether you are writing a senior/executive, mid-level or entry-level/new grad construction resume):
- I focused his resume. The top keywords and opening statement of your resume need to be clearly defined and targeted to what you want. Opening statements should be no more than 4 to 5 lines deep. Your goal is to give your reader a framework of perspective about you that aligns with your career focus. Let’s say you are a PM targeting large construction projects. Your keyword at the top of your resume might read: Project management | Hospital & Healthcare | Projects to $200 Million
- I wrote to his ideal position. Find a few positions that represent your “ideal job.” Highlight all of the keywords and phrases in those positions that match and resonate with you. Now make sure those keywords are integrated into the top of the first page of your resume. I call this the mirroring technique. It is extremely effective.
- I told his story. In his career history section, I began by listing the company name, something positive about the company, their general size and scope, and why they hired him. Then I added some short stories targeting issues this superintendent overcame that ended up making the company more money in the form of more project work from happy clients. I topped this off by including call out boxes of selected projects for each company, highlighting that he had brought those projects in on time and within budget.
If you want or need to write your resume yourself, understanding these marketing elements is going to help you tremendously – not only understand your own real and perceived value, but to communicate your focus, strengths, achievements and branding to potential employers. You’ll quickly get their interest, beat your competition and ultimately land more interviews and offers for positions within the companies you truly want.
For more do-it-yourself executive resume help, here’s a free resource just for you…
Watch this 1-minute video to learn how to get more information on:
- 3 resume mistakes 90% of people make when they write their resumes themselves.
- What they are and how to easily fix them so you can get more interviews and bigger offers!
To your career success!
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.
As a top executive resume writer, I have the privilege of speaking to many top executives on a weekly basis. There are a few statements I hear over and over again from these executives in career transition. They include:
“I have not had to look for a position ever – they have always come to me.”
“I really don’t know much about today’s job market; I haven’t had to look for positions for many years.”
“My resume is extremely dated and doesn’t represent me the way I would like it to.”
“I have tried to write about myself and my accomplishments, but it is just proved to be too difficult.”
“I have done so many things and amassed so many executive level skills at this point in my career, my resume would be 5 pages long if I wrote it.”
These are all very common, frustrating situations for top executives, and all very good reasons that they seek to employ top certified executive resume writers to design their C-level resumes. At the C-level, most executives would spend money at their salaries to actually try to write their own resumes.
Another important factor is the ROI of working with a top writer to design a C-level resume. Most often the leverage a professional C-level resume gives means more interviews in less time and often more money. Ostensibly, C-level executives who invest in professional leadership resumes will recoup their initial investment or often see a return in the form of an increased salary, more interviews, a shorter job search and the like.
A C-level resume is a leadership document that is strategically planned out and designed to convey your value in the form of telling your story and communicating the metrics-driven accomplishments you have a track record for. If it’s done right, it sets the peg higher for initial conversations and builds the value of who you can be to a potential employer. It should create intrigue and pull opportunities to you.
A C-level resume that is professionally created ensures that your story is told crisply and in a compelling manner. The set up and delivery is compiled for easy reading – it is interesting – and white space is respected. Accomplishments are set in tables and perhaps shown on a graph and your top-branded accomplishments are called out in short sound bites. This gives your reader satisfaction at the cursory glance.
Common mistakes executives make when they write their own resumes include big blocks of text and simply including too much information. These sub par resumes do not adequately convey leadership strengths or give the stellar first impression needed to land interviews for an executive level position. If you write your own resume and feel the backlash of silence from recruiters and job boards you have submitted your resume to, you will be tempted to feel a loss of confidence in the job market and possibly in your own value. A professionally written C-level resume means you can step out with aplomb – and this good energy will carry over to your interviews.
It is rarely disputed that a top executive resume writer is a valuable resource for your C-level resume, as the investment often pays back very well. They can also serve as trusted sounding boards for executive decisions during a job search and provide other valuable resources such as LinkedIn design and optimization, recruiter distributions and more.
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.