By Anish Majumdar, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW). For senior-level professionals, figuring out what should and shouldn’t go on a resume can be a daunting challenge. The problem is magnified by how varied a career you’ve had, because the fact remains you somehow have to establish your personal brand and demonstrate value within the span of just a few pages…without going into excessive detail about any one thing. Many of the executives I work with have sought out my services after endless revisions to their resume have failed to yield results. In my experience, the culprit is rarely-if-ever a shortage of effort, but rather the lack of a effective strategy.
1) Align with Employer Needs
A resume is not an autobiography, but a marketing document meant to suggest excellent fit for the type of role you’re after. This concept goes double for executive candidates. Addressing the ways in which you can meet a company’s needs is a much stronger approach than simply describing goals and wants. If you’re currently using an Objective Statement or similar to begin your resume, I would recommend replacing it as follows:
–Evaluate the attributes and experience most frequently called out for positions you’re targeting. Job postings are helpful here. List the ones that come up time and time again which you’re proficient in.
-Now create an Executive Summary at the start of the resume, no more than a short paragraph’s length, which brings these in-demand qualities to the forefront. For example, a Chief Financial Officer candidate with a strong background in managing corporate acquisition & restructuring efforts, introducing effective internal reporting and analysis tools, and serving as the face of the company to lending institutions, VC firms, and financial markets would do well to highlight these attributes right from the get-go.
2) Think Big Picture When Describing Past Roles
At its core, all of the positions listed within the “Professional Experience” section of your resume need to answer the same question: how did my efforts leave this company in better shape than when I started? Don’t waste precious space describing responsibilities which are taken for granted at the executive level. A CFO doesn’t need to call out budgeting and forecasting skills. However, describing how he or she successfully led a company through a difficult liquidity period by transforming their business model and implementing targeted financial and accounting strategies most certainly merits mention.
3) Add Hooks
Due to the nature of filling executive positions, you’ll want to be conducting the bulk of your search through either networking and/or enlisting the services of a recruiter. This is why it’s important to list community involvement, volunteering, or any professional affiliations you’re passionate about. It’s amazing how many times clients have told me about a connection that was made, and a job landed, through someone sharing an affinity for an organization or aspect of their outside-work lives. It’s not necessary to devote a huge amount of space to this, but adding a few details in this area at the tail end of the resume can make a big difference.
If you’re ready to boost the impact of what you’re putting out there, I encourage you to apply these techniques and give yourself a solid advantage during the search.
Thanks for reading!
Anish Majumdar is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Founder of ResumeOrbit.com, a consulting firm that specializes in Resume & CV Development, LinkedIn Profile Development and Executive Bio Letter Development for senior and mid-level professionals.