How long should your resume be?
It depends on WHO will be reading it: Boards, employers, or recruiters.
Take a few minutes to assess the audience who will likely read through your credentials:
- What type of attention span do they have?
- Are they looking for “technical” details?
- What do they value at your level?
Your executive resume must be LONG enough to convey the right details, but SHORT enough to capture attention.
Here’s how to manage the length of your resume:
1 – Keep your resume short if you’re pursuing a Board seat.
Boards of Directors don’t want to read a novel! Instead, they’re gauging your worth based on the past 10-15 years of company growth or turnaround impact you’ve achieved. Recruiters, too, often prefer a reasonable amount of brevity when presenting you to client companies.
In cases such as these, the SCOPE of your authority in past roles (such as the size of your teams or budgets), industry expertise, influence on mergers and acquisitions, and career promotions will be important details.
Job duties, especially if they apply to ANYONE in your roles, should be stated briefly.
Don’t clutter a Board resume with unnecessary data.
In this example of a Board resume (click the document for a larger image), you can see specific metrics, Board Chairman roles, and job titles that qualify this candidate for another advisory position.
By encapsulating all work and educational history – and referencing profit-generating and strategic decision-making experience – this resume is ready for an interview with a Board of Directors.
2 – Consider the reading habits of your audience.
If you’re likely to be interviewed by a Chief Operating Officer, IT leader, or other detail-focused executive, your resume can be longer.
These leaders often appreciate being able to drill into detail showing your major projects. They look for CONTEXT.
However, if you plan to get in front of a Chief Revenue Officer of VP of Sales, these executives will be interested in the bottom line (meaning revenue and profit metrics). You’ll be better off with a hard-hitting message of growth.
3 – Rethink your resume updates.
If you’re just tacking that last job onto an already cluttered resume, you’re making it too long.
You may be creating a document that is difficult to navigate and looks more like a mid-career list of bullets.
A truly compelling executive resume is prioritized, with every word and headline built around your value proposition. Employers aren’t interested in the minute details from years ago, especially if these facts obscure your readiness for a Board or C-suite role.
It’s best to start with your goal in mind, then add accomplishments, metrics, and success stories that support it, while meeting the hiring manager’s needs for information.
By doing so, you’ll make a stronger case for yourself as a champion well-positioned to tackle your next business challenge, and maintain brevity and precision in the process.
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- Laura Smith-Proulx, CCMC, CPRW, CPBA, TCCS, COPNS, CIC, CTTCC, NCOPE