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5 ways to push your leadership resume past the 10-second scan

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Want to know why employers will only skim your leadership resume – with a mere 10-to-30 second glance?

If you’ve ever leafed through stacks of resumes, looking for critical skills, you’ll realize just how fast a hiring manager must make an interviewing decision.

It’s no secret that the top half of an executive resume is prime real estate. Key details and credentials must leap off the page in order to be noticed.

Instead of fighting this trend, embrace it – and take steps to make your leadership resume pop, right from the beginning:

1 – Tell employers what’s new or relevant.

Just earned your MBA? Fluent in more than one language? Able to relocate wherever you’re needed?

These are details that are meant to be put up front in your executive resume, as they quickly distinguish you from candidates who are less willing to move, or have a more limited repertoire.

As an example, “Cornell graduate pursuing Executive Leadership certificate at Northwestern” helps demonstrate a commitment to education. “Canadian citizen; no sponsorship needed” is another example of how to answer an employer’s critical questions (before they begin).

2 – Show leadership career progression.

If you’ve consistently been promoted, worked at a string of prominent companies, or quickly transitioned into jobs that showcase your unique competencies, consider adding a short Career Progression section right up front in your resume.

For executive candidates, this may mean showing “Board of Directors,” “Committee Chairman,” “CEO,” and “Senior Vice President” in a Leadership Career History listing on the first page (as shown in this sample COO resume).

A rising star in banking could also list “VP, Strategic Programs at Citibank” and “Management Associate at HSBC Bank” in a resume summary, helping explain why you’re qualified to move to the next step.

3 – Give your executive resume a title.

Instead of launching right into Professional Profile or Qualifications Summary (yawn), consider cutting to the chase with a title that spells out your executive career goal.

Don’t protest; you’ll need to make your ultimate job target obvious to employers, or they WILL pass you by.

You can, of course, straddle the line between career levels with a general title such as “Business Development / Account Executive,” or try going for broke with specifics (“Director, Cloud Services & Managed Hosting Alliances”).

Either way, a bold title tells employers where to categorize your skills (as obvious in this sample CMO resume), and points them to seek out the reasons you’re uniquely qualified—by reading further, of course.

4 – Try a branding headline.

Also referred to as a tagline, a branding headline does exactly what it should: frame your peak value-add to employers.

Placed front and center on your leadership resume, the branding statement can be as dynamic or conservative as you believe it needs to be, based on the audience for your skills. Keywords or references to your desired career level will help employers hone in on what you offer.

As an example, if you’re pursuing a new position in a highly regulated field such as the audit industry, an appropriate tagline could be “Municipal Audit Leader Behind Large-Scale Cost Recovery & Compliance.”

An EVP of Sales, on the other hand, might try a headline with more energy, such as “Aggressive Retail Sales Strategist Leading Teams to Multimillion-Dollar Deals.

5 – Present your ROI right away.

There’s no law of executive resume writing that says you must hide the good stuff until later in the document. In fact, you can start off with a bang by describing achievements within the first few lines of your leadership resume.

$400M+ growth with launch of Cloud Partner offering in Q3 2012, leading to $800M forecasted 2013 results” says more about your ability to get results than a list of sales skills.

In short, don’t settle for writing your resume the same way, while hoping for different results!

Recruiters and hiring managers are crazy-busy looking for the perfect executive candidate, with little time to read your resume and absorb every detail. The top part of your resume can be as important as the remainder of the document – all put together.

Make it easier for them to spot key qualifications by trumpeting core facts front and center, where they’re much more likely to land you a coveted executive interview.

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