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Will your executive resume make the grade?

Executive resume trends can be confusing
Executive resume trends can be confusing

As a resume writer who works with executives on a daily basis, I see many different types of “before” resumes – some good, some not so much.

Invariably, the question arises as I talk to executive job hunters: Is my resume really THAT bad?

Do I really need to work on it, or will it just need a few tweaks? What could I possibly need to change? (... and so on).

Even if your executive resume was already professionally written, you may still have doubts about its effectiveness (especially if you didn't go through a deep-dive analysis of your personal brand).

Look at your executive resume objectively for a few minutes, then run it past these 7 tests to determine whether it fits current resume trends (or needs an overhaul):

1 – Does your resume provide metrics in the top half of the first page?

Employers want to figure you (and your performance) out quickly. If you don't connect the dots for them, they'll comb through your dates of employment and job titles, looking for reasons to rule you out.

Unless you have a perfect job history, a degree from Harvard, or you’ve been #2 behind Bill Gates at Microsoft, a quantifiable resume summary (one that doesn’t talk about your “proven ability” or “highly accomplished” background) is a requirement for a high-powered job.

2 – Is your resume design striking and relevant to the job you’re pursuing?

If you read this question and had to take another look at your resume, it’s probably not eye-catching enough to stand out against competing documents.

3 – Did you add an infographic or chart to your executive resume?

While not the only piece of data someone will see, a graphic of your achievements makes a statement and draws the eye toward your top wins.

As it’s often said, “a picture is worth 1,000 words.” A chart (shown in this COO and GM resume) can be of high value in covering the salient points of your long career with just a few notations - and it shows you're current with personal branding and resume trends.

4 – Are your awards or career distinctions at the top of your resume?

Employers will nearly always miss information that’s buried, especially if it is placed as a footnote to your job responsibilities.

Accolades (such as these awards on a CIO resume) will mark you as a solid candidate, and therefore must appear in prime resume real estate (that top half of the first page again). Otherwise, your audience may get lost finding them.

5 – Does your resume fit into 3 pages or less - with a readable font?

Remember those 10 seconds you have to get employer attention?

If your executive message can’t fit into the first page (with an obvious statement of value), with just enough detail (using 10-point or larger font) in subsequent pages, most people won't spend time looking for it.

While resume writing trends have changed from the single-page edict of years past, it's still a good idea to make your case succinctly.

6 – Are the names of major clients, employers, or universities listed on the front of your resume?

(See #4 above.)

Employment at an industry-leading company tells recruiters that a) you’ve passed a stringent vetting process in the past; b) you have credibility in your field; and c) you offer an edge over competing candidates from (probably unsuccessful) no-name companies.

The same goes for graduation from a renowned alma mater, or your ability to secure top, brand-name accounts. (Name drop! Please!)

7 – When you send your resume to employers, are you receiving a response?

The ultimate litmus test of whether your executive resume needs help, a positive reaction from employers should be your main goal.

No matter what I (or even you) think of your executive resume, it has one main job: to bowl over hiring authorities and compel them to call you before their competition does. If it works, you'll know it.

One final clue:

If you answered “No” to the majority of these questions, you probably know the answer to the original one.

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