Executive resume story
Executive Resume

How To Write A Great Executive Resume Despite A Winding Career Track

We all read about how resumes today should be more akin to stories. That is true. How, though, can you tell a great career story when the last few years of your career have not produced the results you were after?

What if the best accomplishments you have to offer happened decades ago? What then?  Have you said to yourself, “No one will care about the last few years?” Hmm. Not so fast. 

Career Risks: The Good and The Bad

Not all of us have steered a career track with a clear, ascending progression. Some of us have made decisions, especially in business, that led us down roads less traveled.

The bad?

Things didn’t turn out the way you hoped they would. Now you need a new executive resume and are trying to share the value of your unusual career path and keep coming up short. 

Perhaps you have launched a series of startups? The first was promising, but everything didn’t click, and you moved on to the next startup. 

Have you invested in new technology launches? The solution was innovative, but the market wasn’t ready. Or, perhaps, someone else outpaced your first-to-market move. 

Shifted from one industry to another? Boy was that a mistake. Sorry. The grass is always greener…they say. 

Took charge of an early-stage company? It was staffed with a bunch of ‘yahoos.’ I get it. Things always look shinny at first (wink). 

The good? There is value in failures. Everyone has a story to tell. Experience is ‘gold.’

How to Turn Failures into Success Stories

“It’s entirely possible to turn every failure into a success story that shapes the ultimate outcome of your business.” 

Do you agree with that statement above? I do. So does Sujan Patel—read his blog post by clicking here. 

If you can turn failures into positive outcomes for your business, why then would that not be a good tale to share? There are lessons in failures that will lead your next employer to success.

How do you convince them?

Begin To Showcase The Value of Your Career 

Before you start to spin and reshape recent shortfalls on your resume, let’s bring some of those past clear-cut achievements to the forefront. 

  • Deviate from the chronological resume and bring some of those great achievements to page one of your executive resume. Decide what is of value to share in alignment with your new career direction and choose the best example. 
  • Compare those achievements to what they would relatively mean in today’s global market. For instance, if you were part of launching a new brand that became a premier player in the market 10 years ago— quantify and compare it to the slice of the market your competition held during that time. Contrast is key. 


And, how do they measure up in today’s market? 

Bottom line: Since those accomplishments happened a while back; you need to help your new employer understand the magnitude of that past experience in today’s world

What To Do With Your Recent Career Adventure?

This one is a bit trickier. The key here is to connect the dots.

What does your new employer need from you?

What are they trying to solve?

Is it about moving the company forward?

Is it about achieving next-level revenue?

Are they looking to expand internationally? 

Once you have zeroed in on what they need from you, identify if you have accomplished this in your recent experience (even if you fell short of ultimate goal). If you failed to achieve the goal—why and what is the lesson learned? How did that story end?

You see, the idea is to connect the dots for your employer and showcase that this recent experience—though did not produce the results you sought—offer invaluable insights/exposure/strategies they can now leverage: Did you sell the company? Did it produce a spinoff? What happened? 

Connecting the Value Dots

Here is a table that I hope helps you align your recent ‘not-so-great’ experience with the needs (vision/goals) of your future employer: 

Vision/Goal #1Achieved? Share accomplishment. Not achieved? Why? How far did you get? Lesson? Outcome?
Vision/Goal #2
Vision/Goal #3
Vision/Goal #4

After you have understood what the target job title entails (employer wants) and taken inventory of how your recent experience measures up, you need to shape this information into a story that convinces hiring authorities that your career track is valuable in helping them actualize their business visions.

Mastery Storytelling: A Businessperson’s Tale 

Write Your Executive Career Tale

Before you can decide if you have the chops to knit your unusual career journey or if you must hire an executive resume writer—you must wrap your mind around the value of both your successes and failures. 

As I said earlier in this post, everyone has a story to tell. Uncover the value the highs and lows in your career offer; speak to the needs of your audience; and knit your story well. 

According to Pixar (and you know they know how to tell tales), good stories are universal; have a clear and structured purpose; have a character to root for; appeal to our deepest emotions; are surprising and unexpected; are simple and focused.

Can you truly follow Pixar’s award-winning, story-telling formula when writing an executive resume? To a certain extent, yes! At the core, every resume is a story about a character (you) who has overcome challenges and along the way compiled achievements and successes. That’s you.  

Good luck

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