Resume writing can be a daunting task. Writing it can be especially hard for an accomplished executive with decades of experience. How can a single document adequately capture all the knowledge and potential you have to offer?
Your resume is your marketing piece. It needs to sell you. Before it can do that, it needs to grab the attention of the right people. What follows is my perspective from working with many talented executives and the organizations that hire them.
Your Resume Is a Photograph
Think of your resume as a photograph of yourself. A photograph doesn’t tell your whole life story, but the best pictures reveal the best about you. They often include subjects you’re passionate about – people, hobbies, locations.
Your resume should be an expression of your business passions and your best self. It should look like the organized and strong executive you are, and not be confusing to the reader.
How Much Detail to Include?
It is not really about how much detail, it’s about including the right detail. Be absolutely complete when recounting your employment history. Doing so will showcase the foundation upon which your career was built. Don’t worry about exceeding one page, but keep it to three or less. Be sure to list your accomplishments, not just job descriptions.
Use bullets, not paragraphs. Since most resumes are skimmed, large paragraphs of text are a turn-off and will frequently be skipped. When there are many resumes to review, your highlights need to jump off the page. Make sure they are punchy and powerful.
Include white space. It actually makes your resume more readable. Don’t shrink the margins. Again, remember this is like a photograph. The best pictures are not full of clutter; rather, the background enhances the subject.
4 Essential Elements of an Attention-Grabbing Resume
1. Your Executive Summary/Objective
2. Your Work History
3. Your Education
4. Your Community Involvement
Be sure to include an Executive Summary at the start of your resume. Your executive summary must pique the interest of the hiring committee and entice them to learn more about you. This is your chance to show the value you will add to the organization if they hire you.
Choose your words carefully. Ensure that they reflect and convey your career passions, not just your experience. Include a very specific statement of what you want to do—i.e., “I am seeking the top leadership position in a family-owned business poised for growth.” It is OK for this statement to be focused and bold.
Your work history should be detailed chronologically, with most recent first. Along with each position, provide the following:
• A very brief description of each company. Choose the most remarkable facts that will “wow” the reader. Include total revenues, location (states, or countries, if applicable). Also note the years, but not months, of employment.
• A one-sentence explanation of your responsibilities in that role.
• 3-4 bullet points listing your accomplishments beyond your job description.
If you’ve held more than one position within the same company, list them underneath in chronological order. Include a sentence about your responsibilities and accomplishments for each as you did in the previous positions.
Your education should be listed with your most recent schooling first. In the spirit of transparency, list your graduation dates—even if decades have passed.
Your community involvement should be noted with the organization name, your role, and any accomplishments. This not only shows that you’re well-rounded, but provides insight into your community connections.
But Wait—There’s More!
This may seem like an obvious statement, but it must be said: Do not rely solely on your resume to get your foot in the door. When seeking a top (if not the top) position in an organization, it’s time to call on your personal “centers of influence” and network of associates, family members and friends. Your reputation matters greatly, so work hard to protect and maintain it. Be sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date as well, including a current picture.
Back to your resume. Your resume is a critical piece of landing your dream job. Be sure it is as great as you are. Your resume should be the picture that makes others want to learn more about you.
What about you?
We welcome your feedback. What have you found most beneficial in crafting a stand-out resume? What have you seen that is an absolute turn off?