The average person puts on about 1-2 pounds per year from early adulthood through middle age. To stay healthy, while accumulating weight with each passing year, there are clear remedial steps to take.
The same is true of your leadership resume. As you progress in your career, you can’t just keep adding new roles and achievements and hope that it will stay meaningfully lean (you can only adjust the font so much!).
If you are struggling to keep your executive resume to a manageable length, it may be helpful to think of your content in terms of Fat and Muscle. You eliminate the fat that is hiding the muscle underneath and you pump up the muscle to make it even more visible.
Resume “fat” to lose:
- Objective statements with an indication of your personal ambition (what YOU want is of no interest to the reader initially).
- Lengthy summaries that no one has time to read.
- Personal descriptors that have become meaningless to executive recruiters because of overuse (results-oriented, driven, strategic, business-minded, etc.).
- Long-winded company descriptions.
- Lengthy detail regarding duties and responsibilities.
- Irrelevant achievements (yes, even big ones).
- Detailed information about every role you’ve ever held.
- Any information that you do not want to discuss at length during an interview (failed initiatives, explanations of why you were let go, or why you took an extended personal leave, etc.)
The “muscle” of a lean resume:
- A headline that tells the reader exactly who you are and where you fit in (for example: “Chief Finance Officer – Retail Industry”).
- A brief, 3-line summary focused on how you help organizations with very specific challenges.
- Personal descriptors that indicate specifically what makes you unique among the pool of exceptionally qualified candidates (i.e. “expert in business-technology alignment”; “recognized authority on business intelligence”; “architect of future-ready enterprises”).
- Brief company information—just enough information to understand the industry and scale of the operation.
- Minimal information about responsibility—just enough to transmit your level of authority (P&L, budget size, number of direct/indirect reports, and the broad areas of oversight).
- Relevant achievements that are aligned with your goal.
- Details for the most recent roles, but increasingly less detail as you go back in time.
- Career stories that will make you shine during an interview rather than your having to explain underperformance.
Just as keeping a healthy body weight is important for your quality of life, keeping your resume lean yet strong as the years progress is critical for career transition success. A lean resume will help recruiters understand your fit for vacancies quickly and will help hiring agents clearly identify your uniqueness and the business value you can bring.