7 ways to transform your Executive Resume from good to great

As published in Forbes magazine.

As an executive resume writer, I often work with executives who want to take their resume from “good” to “great” so they can accelerate their job search.

In applying for a job, thousands may be competing with you for the honor of being the one candidate to receive a job offer, so it is imperative that your resume stands out from the crowd and positions you as the top candidate.

Spending the time and energy to ensure you have a great executive resume has a tremendous return on investment. For every multiple of $100,000 in salary, getting hired one month faster puts $8,000 in your pocket.

Optimizing the following items will allow you to have a resume that stands out from the crowd:

Typos

Nothing says you lack attention like a typo within a resume. Beyond misspelled words, missing hyphens and an inconsistent layout communicate a sloppy work ethic. And using spell check tools such as Grammarly are no substitute for thorough proofreading. These online tools do not catch every word, nor every mistake.

Ensure you read your resume backward and forward several times, and have others review it for you. Even after proofreading, look over the entire resume to ensure bullets are matching, and sections such as company names and job titles are consistent throughout.

One mistake can cost an interview or cause the hiring manager to opt for the other candidate.

Contact Information

Your contact information section should be short and to the point. An old-school, wordy and disjointed contact section distracts the reader from more important sections of the resume and does not impress. For a succinct, modern contact section, consider the following:

• List your mobile phone number and email by themselves; there is no longer a need to differentiate them.

• Include your city and state but ditch the street address. If you’re living in multiple cities, consider even removing the city and state to get the person to fall in love with your skill set before considering if they’ll have to pay a relocation package.

• Include a customized link to your LinkedIn profile.

Title

Your headline should be concise and include the title of the job you’re going for. “Senior Financial Executive” is too broad, but “Chief Financial Officer – VP Finance” is more specific. The reader should be able to read your headline and know what type of job you’re pursuing.

Summary

The summary section is the most important part of the resume. It’s a well-targeted branding statement that communicates who you are, your strengths, and why you’re unique. It must market you and answer the question, “Why would I want to hire you?”

If you write this section properly, the hiring manager will want to keep reading. Afterward, they should be compelled to pick up the phone and call you, and perhaps even want to make you an offer. Your brand has to be that well-communicated to be effective.

Competencies

The key competencies section of a resume serves two purposes. First, it outlines your skill set, and second, it houses the most important keywords in your resume. As an executive, you’ll want to list your competencies from a high level to keep the list manageable. For example, you might state the competency of “project management” but not list all of the items that fall underneath that umbrella.

Experience

The experience section shows the reader what you’ve accomplished, and similarly, communicates what you can do for the new organization that hires you. Quantify and front-load achievements whenever possible.

I’ve seen resumes that are absolutely packed with everything someone has done. Stick with communicating what the overall challenge was for the position and a handful of key accomplishments.

People read differently today; they skim through easy-to-read short statements interspersed with the bolding of keywords. They do not read entire paragraphs, and they cringe if they see copy resembling the length of a short novel.

Consider how far back to go with job descriptions. Center your experience on what you’ve accomplished this century (the past 10-15 years), and resist the urge to describe in detail what you’ve done before that time.

Format

From a visual perspective, your resume needs to have a stunning layout that “pops” and draws the reader in. Utilizing attractive lines, boxes, spacing and even color helps to accomplish this objective.

In conclusion, ensure your resume is free from mistakes, succinct, targeted, communicates your brand and has an attractive layout. Those who invest the time in creating a top-notch resume often walk away with the job offer. If you follow these steps, you’ll be well on your way to looking great on paper.

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