In today’s volatile job market, your executive resume must show your currency as a leader and progressive-thinking strategist – especially if you want to head an equally futuristic company in an influential role.
However, many executives simply top off their old resumes in preparation for re-entering the job market, adding more miles to an already outdated document.
To avoid this problem and ensure your resume stays competitive with current trends, apply these high-ROI strategies:
1 – Break free from traditional communication methods.
Still adding two spaces after the period in your resume sentences? Get with the times and drop this habit.
Listing only a land line phone number on your resume? You might be turning off recruiters who prefer to text interview confirmations or other queries 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.
2 – Trim outdated affiliations and experience.
Nothing says “inattentive to detail” like an executive resume that drones on for 6 pages or contains performance awards from decades past. Conserve employers’ time by keeping your resume to a maximum of 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 unrelated 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Heavy emphasis on outdated experience also makes a resume difficult to read (attention spans are short!).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 the basic facts (such as Verified product performance for smartphone components or Opened EMEA territories enabling first global sales results).
3 – 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 more than 5 years ago, ask yourself if it represents you and your executive brand.
An email address from Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, and other providers of their era can signify outdated thinking, especially in technology or engineering fields where you’re expected to remain on the cutting edge.
Not sure if your email address is affecting your search? It takes just minutes to set up a new Gmail address reflective of your leadership skills.
4 – Spice up your executive 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.
You can also download newer resume templates online, but be crystal-clear on your personal brand and value-add before filling them in.
Even a simple change to borders and colors, as shown in this sample Private Equity CFO Resume, can help set off important information and make your resume content easier to navigate.
5 –Keep your resume profile summary short.
No one likes to read a paragraph more than 4-5 lines deep at the top of your resume. This outdated practice can inadvertently make it look as if your experience is stagnant and inconsistent with today’s click-happy audience.
To keep employers focused on your value proposition, unearth it from heavy detail, with a short and sweet description of ROI.
Consider the above example of a concise resume summary to help craft your own focused executive profile.
6 – 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; in this case, trimming experience to 15 years will put the focus on your expertise in newer 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.
Again, decisions on dates should be customized to your unique situation, industry, and goals.
7 – Re-imagine the section headings of 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.
Depending on your field and career goals, you could try headings such as Sales Leadership & Growth or Technology Improvements of Value to Financial Institutions.
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 lesson? The best way to ensure your executive resume hits the mark is to think about who is likely to hire you, what they’re seeking, and what you’re conveying with the style of your writing.
Changing your strategy, including the format and reasoning behind your resume content – could give you a significantly stronger edge in the executive job market.