Avoiding the “should’s” of executive resume writing

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As you might imagine, I see hundreds of executive resumes on a regular basis, sent to me with the same accompanying verbiage:

  • “I’ve sent this out many times, and have yet to receive a call – what am I doing wrong?”
  • “I engaged a professional resume writer to create this for me, but it still doesn’t work. I’m not sure what to do.”
  • “After writing this, I’m not sure it represents me, and I’m reluctant to send it out as is– please help!”

What I find most often by reading through these documents is that the candidate’s real value is buried somewhere… usually between the lines of various accomplishments, in too much detail crammed into the resume, or in vague statements that really don’t describe the performance.

There are plenty of resume writing books (including one by yours truly) that will lead you, step by step, through the process of what to do/what to avoid.

You can also find tons of executive resume samples that give you a sharper visual of what an effective leadership resume looks like. And last, but certainly not least, you can nail down plenty of advice on resume writing from nearly every corner of the Internet.

Here’s what I find in nearly every case–with the understandable intent of doing it the right way, your executive resume is written using an over-abundance of should’s:

  • I “should” use these phrases
  • The recruiter “should” be able to see what I mean–even if I don’t fully describe it
  • I “should” copy this idea
  • My friends said I “should” tweak the resume this way
  • The other resume service said this “should” work

My take? Start over! Take “should” out of your vocabulary, and aim instead at defining your value and brand before writing a single word.

After all, your career can’t be summed up with what others say is relevant, but with what YOU’VE achieved that already has relevance.

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