Here’s a common refrain that I’ve heard from budding C-level executives: “I wrote my own resume a few years back, but I can see that it’s just not working now. I can’t get anyone to respond at the right level!”

An overwhelming majority of aspiring and current executive job hunters (and I mean literally 80%+ of the people that I talk with) cannot position themselves properly in a resume, and here’s why:

Buzzwords and project lists work fine for a mid-career move, but once you’re targeting the executive suite, the whole game changes.

Now you’ve got to list critical initiatives, collaboration with other leaders, impact on your teams, and a whole host of other situations in context from your career (and that’s just a start).

As examples, I’ve seen IT Vice Presidents mistaken for Project Managers, and Sales reps who failed to make an impression as Sales Managers, all based on how the resume was constructed.

Here are steps to take to ensure that you don’t fall into this category:

Gather information about your own brand.

If you’re serious about advancing to the next step on the career ladder, you’ll ignore this step at your own peril. Feedback such as 360 reviews, performance evaluations, and colleague perspectives can all be important information for your resume.

Try these steps to pull in critical data on your successes, turnaround achievements, and leadership story, keeping in mind that others often have a better perspective on your value than you do.

Get familiar with what an executive resume looks like.

Still playing catch-up on what employers look for these days? Bring yourself up to speed faster by looking around at the current trends in executive resume writing.

This is especially important if you’re still somehow convinced that your resume needs to fit on a single page, contain your picture, or use an objective.

Consider turning this task over to a pro.

No, I don’t advocate this just because executive resume writing happens to be my specialty. The reality is that more job seekers are realizing that resumes aren’t their forte, and you’re much more likely to compete against a professionally written resume in today’s market than ever before.
In fact, you can take a look at what you’re up against by reviewing samples of executive resumes written for CEO, CTO, CIO, COO, and VP level candidates on my sample resumes page.

In summary, if you’re trying to open a new opportunity for yourself and make a move upward, it’s important to open it at the right career level.

Executive resume presentation and content has changed significantly over the past decade—and you certainly don’t want to get left in the dust with a 1990’s-style resume.

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