Pursuing your next step up the career ladder as CFO or Controller?
Your CFO resume must connect the dots from tactical details, such as financial reporting or systems, to strategic advisor and CEO partner.
By showing examples of strategic decision-making and forecasting, IT oversight, performance recommendations, and Board influence, your CFO resume will position you to compete against other contenders for a C-suite role.
Here’s how to present your value proposition on a powerful, effective CFO resume:(more…)
A funny thing happened during the job market of the past 10+ years… where resumes started to showcase strong personal brands instead of career obituaries.
Plenty has changed in job search over the past decade, and your executive resume needs to wake up to new trends.
All puns aside, a strong and uniquely crafted personal brand message must be present in your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn Profile to outwit the competition.
Here are the trends to observe:
Resume Trend #1: New Ways to Present Data.
Gathered metrics on your job performance, but not sure how to make them stand out? Now, executive resume trends include the use of graphics and charts (such as the illustrations in this sample Enterprise Technology Sales Resume).
Even if you’ve never added a graphic element to your resume, take heart: thanks to the Insert function in Microsoft Word, adding a chart is easier than ever. This function will display an Excel spreadsheet in which to add the requisite metrics, as well as prompt you to select the chart of your choice, such as a bar graph.
Remember that hiring managers are constantly looking for candidates who distinguish themselves at a leadership level. By highlighting the metrics you’ve worked hard to gather (and achieve), you’re making their job easier in 2015.
Resume Trend #2: A Fresh Design.
What used to work for executives or senior-level professionals is now outdated. Dashes of color, changes in font style, intensive keyword strategy, and graphics will help present your story, as shown in this award-wining CEO & COO Resume.
The trend toward using eye-catching design elements isn’t new; executive resume practices have evolved over the past few years, with a transition away from the one-page, all-white documents of the past.
If your resume isn’t employing these strategies, update it now! A refresh is always a good idea in order to stay competitive.
Resume Trend #3: A Powerful, Targeted Cover Letter.
Why would a cover letter be important now? While it’s true that employers will often read your resume and LinkedIn Profile first, they’ll also use your cover letter to gauge your communications skills.
Therefore, you’ll want to take some time writing an effective cover letter that appeals to hiring audiences – ensuring you’re both addressing their needs and mentioning your knowledge of the company.
Even if you target recruiters (who aren’t as interested in your cover letter), keep in mind that many executives (CEO, CFO, COO, or head of HR) are likely to review your letter to get a feel for your writing style – looking for a fit with the company culture and goals for employee engagement. Consider using the tactics in How to Write a High-ROI, Branded Cover Letter.
Resume Trend #4: Concise, Brand-Focused Wording.
Leadership resumes have now evolved into shorter, more precisely written documents, especially when it comes to the first page.
This means you no longer have to write a bloated qualifications profile, but can instead list pertinent details (as shown in this Regional VP Sales resume).
As noted in the points above, this document employs leading resume trends, including graphic elements, color, and a summary of the candidate’s career trajectory — all effective strategies in distinguishing executive qualifications.
Resume Trend #5: Alignment With Social Media.
Congratulations! From this point forward, you’ve become a hot search topic, as employers and recruiters are turning to Google and LinkedIn to learn more about you.
If your resume writing and LinkedIn styles aren’t in alignment, this trend can catch you off-guard – making it difficult for employers to understand who they’re reading about.
Therefore, as you’re writing your resume, keep in mind that your social media profiles must reference the same personal brand message(designed, of course, for a more engaging, personable tone), even if you’re referencing the same keywords and achievements.
In summary, an effective executive resume now requires evidence of your leadership achievement, standout design, social media alignment (or social proof), and a branded cover letter as backup.
Don’t go into your job search without observing these trends! Wake up your resume and job search materials to match the new reality.
Trying to catch a break in the competitive job market for executives? Your resume MUST be on par with the branded, value-driven documents used by other leaders.
As an executive expecting to make your mark, you’ll need to avoid the typical (yet major-league) resume writing errors that can put you at a disadvantage.
Sharpen your approach and position yourself as a contender by checking your executive resume against these too-common resume writing mistakes:
1 – Focusing on length (instead of content!) in your resume.
The 1980’s just called, and they’d like their one-page resume back.
Seriously, if you’re still of the mindset that your resume must be limited to a single page (or that it’s too long), it’s time to update your approach.
Back in the day, resumes were meant to be viewed in hardcopy form, and you were told to pack your professional life into a single page. This meant less paper shuffling for employers and less typing for you.
Now, your resume has been transformed into a marketing piece encapsulating your personal brand message and showcasing your career high points. As a result, many executive resumes exceed the classic 2-page “rule,” while still receiving a warm welcome from recruiters.
No matter the length, what’s truly important is how quickly your resume grabs attention, and how well it conveys your unique selling points.
Pushing your executive resume into 3 pages will also allow you to use eye-catching elements, such as infographics or charts to illustrate leadership achievement (as shown in this CEO resume example).
2 – Using 5-dollar words when simple explanations will do.
There’s no need to waste precious space with adverbs and overdone descriptions. Employers are interested in the bottom line and your contribution to it – plain and simple.
Yet, there are too many executive resumes spouting “provided exemplary performance” or “demonstrated outstanding leadership skills,” among other fluffy phrases.
If your resume is loaded with superlatives (or worse yet, someone wrote it for you using puffed-up descriptors), then cut them out for better space utilization and clarity.
“Effectively delivered highly complicated project services” can be trimmed to “Delivered complex IT projects,” with no loss of meaning.
Scan your executive resume for excessive use of “fluff words” that add no value, such as these examples:
Effectively – seriously? There’s no reason to note an achievement otherwise.
Successfully – see “effectively.” Unsuccessful efforts have no place on your resume.
Innovatively – is this even a word? If you’ve been innovative in your ideas or you’ve delivered innovative products unique to the market, just say so.
Adeptly – see “successfully.” The opposite scenario would be if you barely produced results. Leave “adeptly” to those less adept.
3 – Failing to see the forest for the trees.
Started to write about yourself, but finding it difficult to sum up your value?
Now you know how employers feel when they read a resume that rambles on without making a point.
Prime resume real estate – the top half of your first page – is just as important as ever. Your executive resume must make the business case for hiring you, without making the reader navigate through the entire document.
Try these techniques for cutting to the chase:
Move notable credentials (Lean Six Sigma, MBA, etc.) to the front of your resume
Give your success stories top billing by showcasing them on the first page
Provide concise “sound bites” in the form of taglines or short statements
In both these examples of a CEO resume and Chief Medical Officer resume, you can see how the first few words convey powerful and relevant skills, using a condensed, snapshot-level view of career success.
Recruiters want to see – in an instant– why you’re qualified and ready for that corner office. So, narrow your message to selected stories that exemplify your leadership brand, and place them where they’ll be noticed.
If you see yourself (and your resume) in these common dilemmas, get to work! The more specific, potent, and relevant content that lands in your executive resume, the easier it will be to convince employers of your value.
Cautiously readying your LinkedIn Profile for an executive job search?
You’ll need to consider LinkedIn strategies that differ substantially from those used by mid-career professionals.
For example, many executives choose to limit the information they distribute on LinkedIn, due to company confidentiality or other reasons. Executives are also approached more often than other users on LinkedIn, either as a potential employer or by a recruiter piqued by their qualifications.
This activity can call for a more toned-down presence on the site – while still conveying a strong leadership message.
Consider implementing these changes to cultivate a powerful, yet discreet LinkedIn presence supporting your strategically planned executive job search: (more…)
Did you write your leadership resume around a clear job target – or merely leave clues for employers to find?
If you’ve ever suffered through reading a stack of resumes – hoping the perfect candidate will nearly jump off the page, then you’ll understand the conundrum faced by employers.
Many resumes are written using generalities, leaving recruiters or employers to guess at your desired job goal… following the bread-crumb trail of previous positions and skills to figure out exactly why you’re their prime executive candidate!
Seriously, if employers can’t seem to piece together the reasons you’re applying (never mind the reasons you’re a perfect fit!), then your executive resume might be missing an important element: a title.
A resume title, which is typically a short phrase or job title used at the top of your resume, helps readers understand the role you’re pursuing.
If done correctly, it also leaves them anticipating the supporting details of your story. You DO want them to read further, right?
As shown in this example of a CFO resume, the executive resume title can also replace the overused “Professional Qualifications” or “Summary” category at the top of the resume. (Do you really need these words to introduce the summary of your career? Probably not.)
The advantage of using a title?Your job target will be immediately obvious, and employers will tend to read further, rather than eliminating your resume at first glance.
Even if you’re open to different positions (as illustrated by this sample CEO and SVP resume), you can specify more than one goal. Of course, these job targets should be similar enough to use a common resume; otherwise, you may need another version.
As you can see, boldly titling your executive resume will direct employers to pay attention to your strong points – helping them quickly understand how you fit into their operation.
Need a competitive edge in your job search? As an award-winning executive resume writer, I create branded, powerful resumes and LinkedIn Profiles that position you as the #1 candidate.
My clients win interviews at Fortune 500 firms including Citibank, Google, Disney, and Pfizer, plus niche companies, start-ups, and emerging industry leaders.
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“As In-House Counsel for a Fortune 1000 Company, I retained Laura to revamp my resume. As a result of her attention to detail, Laura was able to grasp complex topics quickly… and highlight my broad skill set, with a product worthy of my past accomplishments.
I highly recommend Laura to all others who want to get on the fast track to success!”
— Kirk D., General Counsel
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