Tag: resume writing tips
The best executive resume writing tips in one quick, 3-minute video. Mary Elizabeth Bradford, The Career Artisan, addresses the top issue executives encounter when writing their own resume and shares the resume tips she uses in her practice.
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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!
After a combined 17 years as an executive recruiter, award winning job search coach and certified resume writer, I have had the honor of working with thousands of executives, and thus, have amassed quite a few “stories” about the executive job search. Working with, coaching, watching and learning from my clients has helped me to identify trends and correctly teach what and what not to do. This is information that I can now “give back” to my clients and readers; not just theoretically, but as accurate reflections from the front lines. Which leads me to the following story…
But before I begin, I should note that I have many similar stories. The star of this one, Tom, is not the exception to the rule, but rather an excellent representation of what happens when a professional – trying to better himself by leveraging himself in the market – takes a deep breath and begins to approach his career by seeing himself and the opportunities available to him in a whole different light. Planning and preparation equal empowerment and control of your destiny. The opposite of this is the all-too-often reactionary or passive-receiver roles that even top executives get duped into from time to time, causing them to jump on anything that comes along.
Now back to Tom…
Tom was a top senior executive in his “small world” industry and many of the key players knew of his skills and strengths. Which is why when Tom went searching for another position, he didn’t think he needed to do anything special to his resume. After all, everyone knew what he could do. Or so he thought.
After 3 months of sending resumes to friends, colleagues and contacts, he called me angry and frustrated. I listened to his tale of woe and after reviewing his resume I told him to let me rewrite his resume and fix this issue he’s having. When I shared his investment would be over $1,000, he hit the roof and needed a very thorough explanation of the marketing and labor that goes into crafting such a document.
In short, he was not convinced.
But in the end, knowing the alternative was not working for him either, he reluctantly enlisted my help. The key to Tom’s resume was laying out the design to help the reader quickly organize his strengths, specialties, key accomplishments and project stories. His old resume was written over a decade ago and thus did nothing to reflect the multiple promotions and leadership status he had attained. There was no detail, there was no focus, and there was no design.
When Tom saw his new resume he was pleased, but the payoff truly came when he sent it to the original five key contacts that he had sent his old resume to with no success.
Long story short: he landed 4 interviews and soon had 2 offers in hand. Then came a 5th interview and even a bidding war. In the end (a total of 30 days later), he had an offer on the table that was $70k over his then current salary.
I like this story so much. Not because of Tom’s nice compensation increase, but because it sharply illustrates what often happens in a job search when three simple things are aligned:
- A clear focus of direction.
- The best marketing collateral possible.
- The right job search techniques.
There are many things that you can do to advance your career; there are just a few that have this kind of ROI. My challenge to you would be to think about one thing you can do before the end of this year to advance your own career so you too can rise to the fullness of your potential.
Oh, and stay tuned – more stories to come!
The most precious piece of real estate in your entire resume is the top of the first page. At the cursory glance, this is the area that is going to get the most attention. And there are some things you can do to make the most of that – or get your resume tossed in the “not interested” pile.
Here is a quick checklist of things NOT to do when crafting the opening statement of your resume:
Don’t generalize. Focus, not generalization is critical. For example, say the VP of Sales for a Fortune 500 company gets ahold of your resume. He or she reads your opening statement which begins with, “Sales executive with 15 years of experience building teams and consensus, expanding territories, etc., etc… Ultimately, this tells the reader very little.
Ask yourself what questions the reader might have. I guarantee they are trying to come up with a framework of perspective about you that includes things like:
- Do you have experience with regional, national or global sales?
- How big are the teams you have managed?
- What kind of companies have you called on and what is the dollar figure of the products or services you have represented?
- Do you have any particular selling skills, such as conceptual selling, or academic credentials, like an MBA?
Using a combination of keywords and a brief opening statement, you can paint a picture (quickly) that satisfies (not frustrates) your reader.
Don’t write an opening statement over 6 lines deep. If you have Googled “executive resume writers” and viewed their samples, you might notice professional resumes are becoming more and more visually impactful and much less dense in text. This is because big blocks of text in your resume will seldom get read.
You must say what you wish to say directly, simply and briefly. Focus on the value you bring to the table. In other words, describe what happens when you do what you do as opposed to just providing an outline of your tasks and skills. After all, what does someone who reads your resume want to know? It sounds harsh, but the questions that are really being asked are, “What good are you to me?” and “Why should I be reading this?” Your focus on value demonstrates that you “get” that.
Don’t speak in first person or past tense. New graduate resumes, mid-level resumes and executive resumes all have one thing in common: they are written in implied first person. Don’t say, “I offer 5 years of social media marketing experience,” but, “Offering 5 years of social media marketing experience.”
BONUS TIP: Enhance your opening statement with keywords either above or below it. This is an easy way to help your reader understand your value. For example, a construction executive resume might say:
Commercial Construction | Healthcare & Academia | Teams to 400 | P&L to 500 Million
Many clients I work with, including c-level executives, have not received their college degree for one reason or another. Most job postings will state this as a requirement, which is daunting for individuals who have accomplished much in their career but do not have a college education or an advanced degree.
Fortunately in most of these cases, these individuals went on to continue to be amazing producers of results in their careers and were recruited into exceptional positions with fantastic companies despite their lack of degree.
How did they do it? My friend and mentor, the late Mark Hovind, President of JobBait, used to put it this way:
“I turn lead into gold but only have a fifth grade education…
want to hire me?”
If you produce results or, more aptly, if you “turn lead into gold” and make or save a company money, you are worth hiring – Ivy League college degree or not! Your resume and cover letter must speak to the results you bring to the company in quantifiable %% and $$ whenever possible.
Here are some tips: Continue reading
Most professionals would love to land their dream job but when it comes to writing a resume that would qualify them to make the jump; they end up stuck with what to say and how to say it.
Not knowing how to create an interest-generating opening statement is a common problem and can quickly lead to job seeker discouragement before the job search even begins!
Here are 3 tips to creating a powerful opening statement that will quickly get you positive attention:
Tip #1 Do Create a Qualifications Summary
A qualifications summary should go at the very top of your resume. It does not explain what your professional objective or goal is, but it does give a clear and powerful overview of who you are and what you can do. Why don’t you want to use a professional objective? Because your resume needs to be focused on what you can do for a company versus what YOU are looking for.
Tip #2 Create an Authentic Opening Statement
To maximize your focus and clarity try a simple writing trick:
Begin to write about what you are doing when you are at your very best, followed by your other key strengths and attributes. Do not edit as you freely write up to a page of information. After a quick break, return to what you wrote and begin to highlight the key words and phrases you feel are the most powerful. Your document should be reduced to about half at this point. After another break, return to your document a second time and repeat this exercise. Now you have a powerful, authentic, and compelling draft statement describing where you really shine!
Tip #3 Use Universal Language
Another common mistake professionals will make is to load their opening statement with industry jargon. Yes if you are a CIO, corporate counsel, or a VP of Finance, you have very specific language that you use. However, your resume has to be written for multiple people in multiple departments. In many cases your resume is being viewed (and thus must be equally compelling) to directors of human resources, division presidents and various managers.
Scan your opening statement for red flags, including acronyms that are not spelled out, information on specific companies, too much detailed technical jargon and sentences that are only decipherable to people intimately associated with what you do.
These key tips will help you to easily create an authentic statement about who you are when you are at your career best, and command the attention of the companies that are looking for someone… just like you!
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