If you are a $100k+ executive, you need an executive resume that works very hard to communicate critical information—not just when given a cursory glance but at the deeper read as well. The trick is knowing what to include—and what to omit—with a dash of marketing 101 understanding in its foundation.
Common issues with executive resumes include big, dense, text-heavy paragraphs in a small font, documents that look dated, and some that are 4 to 7 pages long because you (a VP or C-level executive) are at the point in your career where you have amassed so many skills and conquered so many challenges, it becomes easy to lose sight of what to include …. so you include it all!
To help – here is a basic checklist to help you review your executive resume so that you can include only the most important components!
Identify what you want, and build your resume TO those positions. With your goal as your touchstone, you will easily know what to put in and what to leave out. Start by finding a couple of representative job ads. Then highlight all of the areas that resonate with you and compare your top keywords and key points against those keywords and phrases.
Bold where you want the eye to go to first. Think of all the resumes you have looked at as an executive—and how lack of clarity and focus creates almost immediate frustration. Be focused and clear about your industry and position goals, and support your focus with facts that “argue” your position, such as P&L, teams managed, regional/national/global experience, certifications or key skills such as M&As, IPOs, and turnaround situations, as an example.
Keep your summary paragraph short and sweet. More than 5 lines deep, you risk losing your reader.
Don’t go back more than 20 years. Not every career professional is in agreement about how far back your history should go. Personally, I think 20 years is a good place to stop. But there are always exceptions.
Tell your story. Under your professional narrative, try to say something complimentary about each company you’ve worked for—and try to add a few facts and figures about the size and specialty of each company to give the reader a baseline perspective. Mention whether you were recruited, promoted, or appointed and write about some of the challenges you faced. Sharing this in short sound bites—without getting too embroiled in a lot of detail—makes for more interesting reading.
Lead with your metrics. It doesn’t matter whether you structure your bulleted points by skill (Financial Turnarounds/Performance Management) or you start your bullets with achievements; front load your metrics and THEN share a little bit of “how” you did it. When a bullet begins with: “Generated an additional $40M in incremental cash flow by …” or “Drove top-line revenue $250M in under 24 months through …” you will instantly capture the hiring manager’s interest. You’ll make him wonder, “Wow! How did he do that?” And then he will continue to read!
These are a few main points I often see that are missing in executive resumes. And so I hope this checklist will help you to identify the areas in your resume that you can improve to help more accurately communicate the message of “who you can truly be in terms of your value” to a potential employer.