In a highly competitive market, your brand sets you and your candidacy apart. If you’re an executive to C-suite leader, your resume must leverage your career brand in order to position you for next-level opportunities. But how do you do so?
There are 7 strategies you can employ to make your brand more visible in your executive resume:
#1 – Visual Branding is the look & feel of your resume – how it is structured, how it is laid out on the page, and how it looks. Does yours grab attention or make you look like just another anonymous candidate? Does it draw your readers’ eyes to the most important details? While you don’t need an infographic or graphic-rich resume, you do need a conservatively elegant resume that makes your executive-level candidacy immediately obvious.
#2 – Every executive resume should leverage either a Specific Resume Title or a Networking Title. The former is the specific title you are applying for in the moment, which of course means it will change each time you use your resume. The latter is a slightly more general (note slightly) title which should be used when you conduct networking with your resume. While resumes aren’t ideal networking tools, most people do use them for this purpose. If you join the crowd, make sure you employ a title that invites a range of opportunities. For example, a specific resume title might be VP of Sales, while a networking title might be Senior Sales Management Executive. Can you see how the latter opens more doors than the former?
#3 – The vast majority of senior executives will benefit from the use of one or more Resume Taglines in their career summary. These types of power statements quickly summarize a key element of your Why-Buy-ROI, that is, why an employer should hire you and the specific return-on-investment your candidacy offers. Here are a few samples of resume taglines:
- Pioneer of Market-Disrupting Technology that Spawned $12B in Revenue
- Catalyzed $249M in Gross Revenue with >500% in Shareholder Returns
- Carved out $750M in Cost-Savings Career Long
#4 – In real estate the old adage is “location, location, location.” In resume writing the incessant message is “key words, key words, key words.” While you need 12 to 15 Key Words highlighted in your career summary, don’t stop there. Every section, paragraph, and bullet of your resume should leverage industry-specific key words wherever possible. Note though, that the goal is not to use as many key words as possible, but rather to hone in on the top 12-15 strategic key words that align with your job search strategy and company targets and to showcase those words in multiple ways throughout your resume.
#5 – In your work history section, make sure you makeover your Position Overviews. These are the statements that precede your achievements. Most folks use them to detail their job descriptions, but a more strategic use of these statements is to use them to convey the story of each role you’ve held and the context of your tenure-long achievements. Don’t forget to include facts that help delineate the scope of your authority, such as your P&L authority and direct/indirect team size, but don’t make these the sole focus of this important sub-section. And keep the length of your resume’s overview statements to 2 to 3 lines of text.
#6 – In today’s highly competitive market, an executive resume without Achievements is really no resume at all. Each role should highlight specific accomplishments using a shortened version of the CAR formula (Challenges | Actions | Results) in up to 2 lines of lean text. Include 4-6 achievements for your current or most recent role, 3-4 for your prior role, and fewer accomplishments for each older role. Most important, though, is to make these statements as quantifiable, strategic, and contextual as possible.
- Quantify achievements by using numbers, statistics, and percentages. Always use the highest, most impressive form (i.e., report annual revenue gains rather than monthly growth).
- Executive-level candidates are characterized by influence over or creation of business strategy, and this should be reflected throughout your resume. A too-tactical executive resume fails to convey the executive nature of your experience and candidacy.
- The contexts of your achievements help you to tell your career story in a more powerful way. It’s one thing to say you turned around a division; it’s another to say you reversed the performance of a division losing -$100M annually to generating +$50M annually within 11 months. It’s even more powerful to note that you were hand-picked for the job and that your success helped position the company for 3X valuation and sale.
#7 – Don’t reserve your career Credentials for the bottom of your resume if they are part of your career brand. If you’re in IT and have an MBA and a PMP, this should be duly noted in your summary. If you’re a C-suite professional who completed executive education at Harvard, include that early in the document. Don’t overlook key pedigree elements, either, such as a unique breadth or depth of experience or early career tenure in an industry-leading firm.
By employing some or all of these techniques you can strengthen the presentation of your brand in your career communications tools. While I’ve highlighted tips relevant to executive resumes, note that all of these suggestions are equally relevant to LinkedIn profiles, executive bios, and executive marketing briefs, too. And while I’m on the subject of executive bios and executive marketing briefs, let me say that either of these is a more powerful networking tool than even the best possible executive resume. But that’s a whole other blog post!