Executive resume trends – and the entire world of communications have changed forever. Now that sound bites, memes, and viral messaging are here to stay, your resume must make a quick, powerful impression on employers.
No matter your industry or position, employers and recruiters will be performing a fast scan of your executive resume to get a feel for your credentials, career history, and social media presence.
Make their job easier by following executive resume trends, ensuring you’re making your mark and taking the best opportunity to shine among your job-searching competition: (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What used to work for executives or senior-level professionals is now outdated.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.
Now considered career marketing documents, resumes have evolved into a presentation of ROI, complete with metrics, success stories, keywords, and formatting elements that showcase leadership experience.
If you’re still adding to a mid-career (obituary-style) resume, other leaders WILL edge you out in the race for choice opportunities. Mundane details and responsibilities won’t cut itfor a leadership role.
Consider taking these steps to brand your expertise and prove your readiness for that next executive role:
1 – Turn Your Success Stories Into Metrics-Driven Achievements.
Quantifiable results, cost savings, team size, and budget authority are important elements in an executive resume. There’s often no better way to demonstrate how you’ll make an impact than to show it in specific figures.
No matter your role, you can still add metrics critical to your message. For example, a CIO can show cost savings from vendor negotiation or hardware leasing (“Trimmed 45% off annual contracts by establishing new vendor relationships,” for example). The COO can focus on improvements across sales revenue. A VP of Engineering should be able to offer R&D figures showing efficiencies in product development.
To start, put a list of all project budgets, costs, operational and CAPEX figures, and similar metrics into your resume.
Then, as you’re recalling success stories, make a note to quantify savings, employee retention, or increases in profit as part of these achievements. (Your competition will be doing exactly that!)
2 – Switch Up Your Resume Presentation.
If you still see color on executive resumes as trendy, you’ll need to adjust your thinking. The best use of color is to help emphasize the right information in your document.
When judiciously placed, color can highlight the words you want employers to notice, or visually separate text to “add” more space. This is especially important if your document seems crowded.
This Sales Director resume shows how a dash of color can delineate key points (Sales Eminence awards at Oracle)—employing color as both a backdrop and a text enhancement.
Be sure the color you select is in alignment with your industry.
Neon green, for example, would not work well when viewed by a conservative audience.
3 – Add Context to Demonstrate Executive Leadership & Decision-Making.
Employers need to understand your leadership style and the methods you use to drive results. By writing out your achievements in C-A-R (Challenge-Action-Result) format before building your executive resume, you’ll start to see patterns that represent your personal brand value.
You can also use the S-T-A-R formula representing Situation, Task, Action, and Result for each success story; what’s important is extracting the high points of your career.
As an example of context, this CEO executive resume shows how the candidate turned around growth challenges and worked closely with private equity firms to generate new profits.
In the same manner, this CEO and COO resume demonstrates how pursuing government and NGO clients helped turn around the business.
In summary, remember that employers won’t realize the value of your strategic perspective and business acumen unless you illustrate it for them!
To stand out, you’ll need to show both the results you generate AND the leadership style you bring to the company.
Launching a job search? You’ve probably thought about hiring the best executive resume writer you can find.
There’s a plethora of resume writers advertising services online and through social media – but how do you know if an executive resume writer will market you effectively? What if the final product doesn’t represent your brand or industry – or you don’t understand the writer’s work?
What should you look for (and ask) when vetting the best executive resume writer for you?
I recommend setting out to qualify writers with these 7 questions, which will give you a good idea of the quality, responsiveness, and attention you’ll receive. After all, most executive resume writers represent a sizable investment (from $500 to more than $4,000).
Resume Writer Question #1 – How long have you been in business?
Resume writers who joined the industry during the economic recession sometimes did so because they saw a need during the downturn.
However, others did so because their own job search failed, which is a concern for anyone relying on them to drive a successful job-hunting effort.
Use the following queries to gain a better idea of an executive resume writer’s purpose and mission in the resume industry:
What made you decide to offer executive resume writing services?
When did you launch your business?
How will I know you are in this for the long haul?
What training have you completed?
Will you still be in business 5+ years laterwhen I need an update?
Resume Writer Question #2 – What was your background prior to executive resume writing?
Even though the best resume writers (both in the US and abroad) can pick up facts about your business background, there’s a striking difference between writers with a corporate history and ones who’ve only read about it.
You’ll need to carefully ask about the writer’s experience in a corporate setting, using these type of queries:
Have you ever looked for a job yourself?
What do you believe employers look for in a resume?
How many interviews have you attended – as either an interviewer or job seeker?
What is your experience in hiring or recruiting?
In what industries and professions do you have hands-on experience?
When writing about the business of your career, a corporate or hiring background is essential to producing technically accurate, business-focused documents.
Resume Writer Question #3 – Will you write my resume yourself?
Be very cautious with this one. Some writers will tell you they are “involved with” or “direct” work in their businesses.
What this means is that your executive resume is handed off to a subcontract resume writer, who will develop the majority of (if not all) of your document.
Senior executive resume writers at the top of their game will write your resume themselves – period. They might have assistants or a team to help with other documents, but they’ll rarely (if ever) turn over the writing of your core document to another resource.
Your best bet is to look over the executive resume writing samples posted by each expert. Are there at least some similarities in style and the tone of the writing?
If it looks like each sample was developed by a different person, this can be a tip-off that you will not have a voice in selecting your own writer.
Resume Writer Question #4 – Have you won industry awards or accolades?
Again, this is an area in which to be cognizant of resume industry practices. The ONLY legitimate resume award competitions are the Toast of the Resume Industry (TORI) Awards hosted by Career Directors International,the NRWA ROAR (National Resume Writers’ Association – Recognizing Outstanding Achievement in Resumes) contest, and the Professional Association of Resume Writers competition.
The TORI contest, revered by resume writers in the US and internationally for its intensity and the preparation required to win, is judged annually by recruiters, grammar experts, careers industry leaders, and past award-winning writers.
If you find resume writers who have won other awards outside of these contests, be sure to ask questions to determine whether these achievements ensure quality and accuracy in the resume writing process. Some ratings sites contain “Best Resume Writer” lists of top writers, but these are often advertising tools.
Resume Writer Question #5 – What do you know about my field?
While some resume writers are experts at pulling out your work history, there are some careers (such as IT) where you’ll fare best with an industry veteran.
As an example, some resume writers come from writing or liberal arts backgrounds, with limited experience in business or tech fields. These writers can struggle when trying to grasp the complexities of a career in a field requiring technical precision – and may not understand how to position you as a leader in your industry.
Particularly if your career is in finance, operations, or IT (or you’re seeking a federal position), you’ll benefit from asking industry-specific questions, such as:
Can you tell me the difference between a CTO and a CIO?
How would you describe the use of Lean Six Sigma practices?
What is your familiarity with credit swaps, derivatives, etc. (or other terms corresponding to your industry)?
How can you guide me through the federal job application process?
These may seem like questions for subject matter experts; however, a resume writer truly skilled in your field will be able to provide reasonable answers. Don’t be afraid to ask writers what strategy they would use for your field; the response can be quite telling.
Resume Writer Question #6 – Where did you gain your writing expertise?
Here’s where you’ll get a glimpse into the writing ability of each professional. While it’s not unusual to have a knack for writing, the best writers have undergone university training (in addition to resume industry courses). You may find English majors, business writers, or journalists in your quest for an executive resume expert.
However, be cautious if a writer tells you that his or her only credentials include reading resumes all day (in HR or recruiting). The same way reading books doesn’t make you a novelist, reviewing resumes is only part of a writer’s preparation.
Creating a compelling executive resume requires hundreds, even THOUSANDS of hours of education, training, and devotion to painstaking detail and marketing strategy, with plenty of constructive feedback from other resume experts.
Again, this is a case where reviewing samples of a writer’s work will give you a solid picture of the quality you can expect.
Resume Writer Question #7 – What credentials do you hold?
Resume writing certifications are not the only indicator of expertise. However, providers with credentials are required to follow stringent industry standards (in addition to a code of ethics)—and their skills have been independently tested and verified.
Look for MULTIPLE certifications to ascertain whether a writer has pursued ongoing professional training (an indicator of a serious resume professional).
If you’re unsure of the value behind a specific course of study, just ask! Most writers will be happy to describe the curriculum and requirements for gaining a specific certification, as they’ve often worked hard to get and maintain their credentials.
In summary, when hiring the best executive resume writer for your project, you’ll benefit from thorough due diligence to select the right provider for your needs.
Probing questions and careful assessment will help you find a competent, strategic partner for one of the most important transitions of your working life.
One of your first tasks is probably polishing your resume… but oh, how the times have changed.
The new reality in executive job hunting demands not only a powerful marketing package for your skills, but also a keen awareness of social media, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), recruiter preferences, and cutting-edge personal branding.
Take stock of these 10 trends destined to affect how your executive resume is perceived – BEFORE starting to network or reach out to executive recruiters: (more…)
Laura Smith-Proulx, CCMC, CPRW, CPBA, TCCS, COPNS, CIC, CTTCC
“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!”
“Laura’s work is exceptional… providing a highly valuable service that gets results! She is a master at professionally capturing career experience with both speed and precision into a product that makes a difference. PLUS, she knows exactly the techniques to fully leverage LinkedIn and keyword SEO.
I highly recommend Laura’s professional services.”