At the executive-level, even the smallest combination of missteps when writing your leadership resume can trigger a bigger issue (ahem … no interviews). Let’s fix that!
Below are three common executive resume writing issues and action steps you can take to make sure your executive resume fully positions you for job search success.
Once you apply the following executive resume writing remedies, you will see that interest in your executive candidacy will start to soar.
#1: Too much, non-value-add resume information
Although having a wealth of experience to put down on your executive resume is a great ‘problem’ to have, if you are not careful, it can produce a novel-like CV.
This is a huge mistake because not only is it essential that you communicate your value quickly to your new employer—but by making your executive resume content-dense, you will submerge critical information.
The fix: First, perform some reconnaissance using your target employer’s website + their LinkedIn company page to learn more about their culture, mission, and the challenges they are currently facing.
Once you are armed with some background information, you can align your most recent experience and best career success stories directly with their needs.
The key to a great executive resume is to reduce that comprehensive, reverse-chronological narrative into short, value-packed statements + bullet points that showcase how your unique skills and experiences set you apart from other similarly qualified candidates.
#2: Underestimating the power of keywords at the executive level
An effective executive resume includes the right balance of keywords (not too many, nor too few, or the wrong ones).
The fix: The first step toward resolving a lack of resume keyword issues is to review job posts (on LinkedIn or a job aggregator like Indeed.com) or position descriptions (found on Glassdoor.com or Salary.com).
Sourcing keywords that are aligned with the role you are pursuing is an incredibly powerful writing strategy; keywords bolster your ‘findability’ and provide the passkey for resume-scanning technology, helping you quickly convey your experience.
Now, it is often the case that job postings for executive-level jobs are not readily available online. What can you do if you don’t have job postings for keywords? You must be very intentional when you write your executive resume’s copy and use industry lingo and job-specific jargon based on what you know to be true in your field.
You see, although in a work setting, it is second nature to refer to functions and skills in a manner that those on your team understand—many forgo this kind of language when they are writing for people outside of their organization.
While this is an excellent tactic to simplify the complexity of your job for those not in your position, if you go too far, you wind up with an executive resume that doesn’t project your expertise and doesn’t include keywords for computer scanning software.
Remember that in today’s age, you are not just writing for human readers—technology and artificial intelligence plays a huge role in the executive recruiting and vetting process, especially amid COVID-19.
Where should you place these keywords? Yes, bulleted lists of keywords are reader-friendly, but integrating keywords throughout your document will make your executive resume more compelling and authentic.
How do you accomplish this strategic integration of executive keywords?
Keywords tend to be nouns and noun phrases and so you will find that while you can communicate your story with everyday language, it is well worth it to take the time to replace common words with keywords.
Therefore, after you write your executive resume, go over it again, and replace universal language with more job-relevant keywords.
Here are a few great keyword examples:
CEO keywords: Corporate governance, P&L management, EBITDA growth, change management, operations leadership, Board of Directors reporting, and financing.
CIO keywords: Technology direction, risk management, IT operations, IT vision, IT budget, team development, technology-business gap.
#3: Focusing on executive responsibilities
An executive resume fraught with responsibilities will sink the chances of the most experienced executive, including CEOs, CIOs, COOs, CCOs, CHRMs, CSOs, etc., of winning an interview.
The fix: To land your next senior-level executive or C-suite job, you must replace non-essential information with engaging career stories and verbiage that highlight the value you bring to the position.
Rather than listing responsibilities, look for the outcome you delivered. For example, responsible for all sales and marketing initiatives becomes –> Delivered $18M in new revenue via creation of five-year sales and marketing strategy, including rebranding and performance turnaround for a two million-member organization across 25 locations in 10 states.
All companies hire executives they believe will help them fix the problems or challenges they are facing; that is, to help them increase revenue, slash costs, save time, build/enhance relationships and navigate the impact of COVID-19. It is up to you to highlight how you will add value.
Your executive resume is one of the most essential tools in your job search arsenal.
The goal is to make sure it is an effective marketing piece that wins you interviews by telling the unique story of your career as clear, targeted, and concise as possible.