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Is Your Resume Telling the Wrong Story?

Published: 6/18/08
Author: Abby Locke

Dotted Rule

There are still too many executive job seekers that lean heavily on “resume blasting” tools as the ultimate solution for their job search strategy. While getting your resume into the hands of key recruiters and decision makers is critical to your job search success, it is futile if your executive resume is telling the wrong story.

Are you consistently sending out resumes and getting either irrelevant positions or no response at all? Well, it’s time to take a close look at the message your resume is sending to employers. Your goal with an executive resume is “sell me” not “tell me.” If you have a laundry list of job responsibilities and task–driven statements, you have only told the readers what you get paid to do. Yet here’s what a hiring manager wants to know; “What can you do for me (qualifications, expertise, and personal brand)? How many times have you done it before (length and breadth of experience)? How well have you done it (bottom–line impact and quantifiable results)?”

Evaluate your current resume by asking the questions below:

  1. Are You Making Potential Employers Guess?

    Your executive resume is a strategic marketing document and the product you are selling is YOU. At first glance – especially in the profile section – the reader should know who you are and the value you bring to the table.

    If you are unsure of your job target or immediate career goals, a generic resume is not going to help you. A focused, targeted executive resume convinces hiring managers that you are the right person for the job. Which one of these executives would you trust as your next CFO?

    Candidate A: Highly qualified and trained in financial and strategic management of businesses in many industries.

    Candidate B
    : Performance–driven finance executive with deep expertise in spearheading initiatives that strengthen infrastructure, expand revenue–generating capabilities, and maximize ROI for startup and high–growth companies.

  2. Is Your Resume Too “Me” Oriented?

    If you are in job search mode, it is understood that you are seeking positions that offer growth opportunities and fit into your long–term career goals. However, if that is the only story your resume is telling, employers will not be impressed. You need to hook them in with buying motivators. Instead of starting your executive resume with a self–centered objective statement that screams, “I am only focused on my needs,” use a brand–focused statement that shows employers how they gain from bringing you on board. With this in mind, which candidate seems like the right fit for a manufacturing executive position?

    Candidate A: Seeking a challenging leadership position in manufacturing and product operations.

    Candidate B: Pioneering manufacturing executive with proven success in devising manufacturing and plant operating strategies that eliminate redundancies, increasing production output, and delivering productivity, quality, and efficiency improvements.

  3. Are You Choking Employers with Too Many Pages?

    Potential employers want to know the depth, scope, and breadth of your experience and related responsibilities. However, you do not need to create a career obituary in order to effectively sell yourself. Even if you have more than 20 years of experience, you can still create an effective executive resume that highlights your key qualifications. Avoid weighing down the document with too much detail or inadvertently “aging” yourself. Which example handles early career experience most effectively?

    Candidate A: EARLY COMPANY EXPERIENCE: Delivered significant contributions to company’s revenue growth and production output as the Manager of Engineering & Maintenance and Project Engineer.

    Candidate B: EARLY CAREER: Held series of executive management and leadership roles including VP, Finance/Controller for several national restaurant chains.

  4. Are You Only Telling Employers What You Are Paid To Do?

    While you always need to communicate your leadership and management responsibilities to employers, this needs to be balanced with a strong value proposition. Good points of difference can include your sales/revenue objectives, budget size, number of reports, number of divisions or branches managed, number of clients, regional or international offices, and the title of your immediate boss.

    These details should be condensed to three to five sentences in a paragraph. Pepper it with vibrant action verbs and industry keywords. Remember to stay away from overused, passive phrases like, “Responsible for the development of marketing plans for clients in the West Coast region.” Maximize your valuable resume space for details on important projects, achievements, and other accolades. Which candidate sells their achievements up front?

    Candidate A: Managed daily activities for an investment management company’s real estate portfolio and supervised staff members.

    Candidate B: Accountable for delivering a 10% return on $700 million investment portfolio in unpredictable, evolving real estate industry. Oversee all daily activities including ROI maximizations, client relations, loan negotiations, and investment dispositions.

  5. Are Employers Not Seeing What Makes You Different?

    Okay, so you are a technology executive in the financial services industry, but how do you stand out from peers who do the same thing? Extract strong statements from your performance evaluations or management feedback reports to make an immediate connection, generate real interest, and entice employers to call you in for a personal interview. Who would you be interested in meeting?

    Candidate A: Fifteen years experience supporting corporate IT operations and application development teams in a complex 24/7 environment involving multi–site locations.

    Candidate B: Primary architect and pioneer of groundbreaking, “first–of–its–kind” technology initiatives that reposition companies for long–term sustainability and continued financial success. “He is truly a strategic thinker who can ascertain the business challenge and deliver an innovative, technology–driven solution.”

  6. Is Your Executive Resume Missing The “Beef”?

    You can tell me that you are great, but unless you demonstrate your greatness through strong, high–impact achievement statements, I am going to have a hard time believing you. Remember it is important to communicate the context in which the achievement was made – in other words, saying that you grew revenues 25% in one year sounds fantastic, but if it was already growing at that pace then your actual contribution was minimal. Which of the following candidates sounds like a powerhouse to you?

    Candidate A: Saved the company thousands of dollars during first year on the job.

    Candidate B: Achieved zero lost time and 100% staff productivity during 12 consecutive months for first time in company’s operating history –– saving $500,000.

Take the time to ensure you’re articulating all your selling points, and your resume will return top, relevant positions. So you can concentrate on which interview to accept!