Trying to catch a break in the competitive market for executive talent? Your resume MUST be on par with the branded, value-driven documents used by other leaders.
As an executive expecting to make your mark, you'll need to avoid the typical (yet major-league) resume writing errors that can put you at a disadvantage.
Sharpen your approach and position yourself as a contender by checking your executive resume against these too-common resume writing mistakes:
1 – Focusing on length (instead of content!).
The 1980’s just called, and they’d like their one-page resume back.
Seriously, if you’re still of the mindset that your resume must be limited to a single page (or that it’s too long), it’s time to update your approach.
Back in the day, resumes were meant to be viewed in hardcopy form, and you were told to pack your professional life into a single page. This meant less paper shuffling for employers and less typing for you.
Now, your resume has been transformed into a marketing piece encapsulating your personal brand message and showcasing your career high points. As a result, many executive resumes exceed the classic 2-page “rule,” while still receiving a warm welcome from recruiters.
No matter the length, what’s truly important is how quickly your resume grabs attention, and how well it conveys your unique selling points.
Pushing your executive resume into 3 pages will also allow you to use eye-catching elements, such as infographics or charts to illustrate leadership achievement (as shown in this CEO resume example).
2 – Using 5-dollar words when simple explanations will do.
There’s no need to waste precious space with adverbs and overdone descriptions. Employers are interested in the bottom line and your contribution to it – plain and simple.
Yet, there are too many executive resumes spouting “provided exemplary performance” or “demonstrated outstanding leadership skills,” among other fluffy phrases.
If your resume is loaded with superlatives (or worse yet, someone wrote it for you using puffed-up descriptors), then cut them out for better space utilization and clarity.
“Effectively delivered highly complicated project services” can be trimmed to “Delivered complex IT projects,” with no loss of meaning.
Scan your executive resume for excessive use of “fluff words” that add no value, such as these examples:
- Effectively – seriously? There’s no reason to note an achievement otherwise.
- Successfully – see “effectively.” Unsuccessful efforts have no place on your resume.
- Innovatively – is this even a word? If you’ve been innovative in your ideas or you’ve delivered innovative products unique to the market, just say so.
- Adeptly – see “successfully.” The opposite scenario would be if you barely produced results. Leave “adeptly” to those less adept.
3 – Failing to see the forest for the trees.
Started to write about yourself, but finding it difficult to sum up your value?
Now you know how employers feel when they read a resume that rambles on without making a point.
Prime resume real estate – the top half of your first page – is just as important as ever. Your executive resume must make the business case for hiring you, without making the reader navigate through the entire document.
Try these techniques for cutting to the chase:
- Move notable credentials (Lean Six Sigma, MBA, etc.) to the front of your resume
- Give your success stories top billing by showcasing them on the first page
- Provide concise "sound bites" in the form of taglines or short statements
In both these examples of an International VP of Sales resume and Chief Medical Officer resume, you can see how the first few words convey powerful and relevant skills, using a condensed, snapshot-level view of career success.
Recruiters want to see – in an instant – why you’re qualified and ready for that corner office. So, narrow your message to selected stories that exemplify your leadership brand, and place them where they'll be noticed.
If you see yourself (and your resume) in these common dilemmas, get to work! The more specific, potent, and relevant content that lands in your executive resume, the easier it will be to convince employers of your value.