Still adding content to your old college resume?
In today’s competitive executive job market, it’s time for a change.
Today’s resume trends demand a fresh approach, with a striking format, branded messaging, and purposefully arranged information that focuses on your relevance as a strong candidate.
Graduate to a standout resume with these strategies:
Spice up your resume presentation.
If you’re still using a plain-Jane document format, Microsoft Word template, or Times New Roman font for your executive resume, you’re definitely selling yourself short.
Consider adding a new headline separating out specific skills (see An Easy Way to Express Your Personal Brand in Your Resume) for a more compelling message and presentation.
Even a simple change to borders and colors, as shown in this sample Chief Revenue Officer Resume (featured among my 2021 and 2022 Executive Resume Samples), can set off important information and make your resume easier to navigate.
Bonus: This sample resume shows headlines such as “Executive Driver for Business Development, Marketing, Content, & Product Strategy” – proof that it’s easier to get a glimpse of your value proposition when it’s CALLED OUT.
To ensure compliance with ATS systems, save your resume as a plain text (.txt) file. You’ll quickly see what the ATS sees! If you’ve put important metrics in charts or text boxes, add it (again) under the right job.
Then, send your “attractive” resume directly to contacts and use your basic text version for online postings.
Keep your resume summary short.
No one likes to read a paragraph more than 4-5 lines deep at the top of your resume. (Credit today’s level of impatience and our click-happy culture for this one.) This outdated practice can inadvertently make it look as if your experience is stagnant.
To keep employers focused on your value proposition, unearth it from heavy detail, with a short and sweet description of ROI.
Use the example above – which shows a concise, tightly written resume summary – to help craft your own focused executive profile.
Show how you’ve embraced today’s communication methods.
Still adding two spaces after the period in your resume sentences? Get with the times and drop this habit. Even Thesaurus.com, APA, and Microsoft Word now urge the use of just 1 space in their style guides.
Listing only a land line phone number on your resume? You might be turning off recruiters who prefer to TEXT interview confirmations or questions to you.
While these habits seem minor, they also tell employers a lot about your readiness to move ahead in your career – or about your ability to compete with next-generation leaders eager to claim their spot ahead of you.
Trim outdated affiliations and experience.
Nothing says “inattentive to detail” like an executive resume that drones on for 6 pages or contains awards from decades past. Conserve employers’ time by keeping your resume to a maximum of 2-3 pages, or you’ll come across as unfocused.
If you’ve served as chapter President or Board member for an industry-related organization, then it makes sense to retain these details. However, your long-ago membership in an obscure association should be dropped from your career story.
Heavy emphasis on outdated experience also makes a resume difficult to read (attention spans are short!).
Instead, condense positions from decades past by rolling up older jobs into a few lines that convey basic facts (such as “Verified product performance for smartphone components” or “Opened EMEA territories enabling first global sales results”).
Consider the relative age of your email address.
Small impressions add up to large ones, and this applies to your email address, particularly since it’s at the top of your resume.
If you’re still using the same address from the floppy disk era, ask yourself if it represents you and your fresh executive brand.
Signaling outdated thinking, especially in technology or engineering fields, can affect your message.
Not sure if your email address is affecting your search? Check out technology branding leader NewNorth’s post on 3 Email Addresses That Say You’re Unprofessional, then quickly set up a new Gmail address reflective of your leadership capabilities.
Strategically tune every date in your executive resume.
At a leadership level, employers expect to see 20 or more years of experience. However, it’s best to carefully assess every date on your resume (and LinkedIn Profile, too) for what it implies about your background.
In other words, feature your dates for a REASON.
For example, you might possess work history dating back 25 years in a high-tech occupation, but trimming experience to 15 years will put the focus on your expertise in emerging, 2022-era technologies.
When it comes to education, consider what your graduation year conveys. Engineering degree programs from 30+ years ago taught now-obsolete technologies, so it’s best to keep the degree and lose the date. In a non-technical field, however, your history of steady promotion can speak value to prospective employers. See more of these decisions in How to Hide Your Age on Your Resume, where Chrissy Scivicque explains why some dates should be used, and others rejected, based on your circumstances.
Again, decisions on dates should be customized to your unique situation, industry, and goals.
Re-imagine the section headings in your resume.
Instead of the long-used Professional History, why not call your work experience Career Progression? Or you could create an achievements section named Examples of Leadership Performance.
These headings convey executive acumen and readiness for a 2022 role:
- Technology Improvements of Value to Financial Institutions
- Sales Leadership & International Growth Wins
- Value-Added Contributions to Operational Excellence
As long as your section heading makes sense, there’s no need to stick with old-school titles. Caveat: create a version with traditional titles when applying to an online job posting, as your resume is likely to be parsed by Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) systems.
The best way to ensure your executive resume hits the mark?
Think about who is likely to hire you – and what they’re seeking… and if it aligns with the message you’re sending with your resume. Rework your outdated format and writing approach for a stronger, compelling message.
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