5 Executive Resume Writing Secrets Used by Experts

cropped-executive_resume_writing.jpgStarting to write your executive resume?

You might feel overwhelmed by the amount of information needed to produce a standout document – especially if you have decades of experience to cover.

I recommend taking a step back to look at your value proposition and contributions from throughout your career, framing your story step by step. Not only will this aid you in writing your resume succinctly and clearly, but you’ll be in better shape when it comes to fielding interview questions.

Consider using these 5 tactics to mine for career and personal branding in an executive career (the same steps employed by professional resume experts): Continue reading “5 Executive Resume Writing Secrets Used by Experts”

Top 10 Executive Resume Trends For 2014

2014 resume trends

Gearing up for your 2014 executive job search?

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 in 2014 – BEFORE starting to network or reach out to executive recruiters: Continue reading “Top 10 Executive Resume Trends For 2014”

How to Write Your Resume When You’re NOT The Perfect Candidate

Man with gaps in work history or no college degree

If your career trajectory contains a few speed bumps (such as a gap in work history or job hopping), you’re among the multitudes in this job market.

Given the state of economic affairs over the past few years, most job seekers don’t fit the classic picture of a “stable” work history at a single employer the way they once did.

I recently sat down with Jacquelyn Smith of Forbes.com to discuss ways of dealing with a not-so-perfect career history for What To Do When Your Resume Looks Like Bad News, reiterating that problematic job situations can often be overcome with just a few key changes to your resume.

Here’s how to address common “sticky” situations (ones that seem to trip up even the most well-qualified job seekers):

Job Gaps

A period of unemployment is no longer an automatic red flag to many employers. Therefore, you’ll want to be as up front and concise as possible when dealing with a gap.

Continue reading “How to Write Your Resume When You’re NOT The Perfect Candidate”

5 High-ROI Resume & Cover Letter Fixes

Resume section headings matterSometimes, you have to feel for the person who is reading your resume on the other side of the hiring table.

Too often, job seekers resort to almost identical phrases on resumes and cover letters. Yet, if you want to generate serious attention, you’ll need to shake things up a bit!

Here are 5 fast, simple ways to think outside the template on your resume and cover letter:

1 – Introduce your resume with a specific, branded title.

Pursuing a global business development or marketing role—one with authority for trend watching and sales in industry verticals?

Sure, you can use Business Development Executive, but Director Strategic Sales packs more impact, plus retains the keywords (Director and Sales) that are needed at your career level.

There’s always more than one way to introduce yourself. Project Manager is fairly specific, but you can give yourself a bit more latitude with a general title such as Project Executive, with a second line that lists Portfolio Manager, Project Director, and PMO Manager as job targets.

2 – Alter your resume headings for powerful impact.

There’s no law that requires your resume to use sections such as Experience, Education, and so forth.

If you’re in sales, you can use the title Relevant Revenue Highlights to describe a selected list of sales successes, while an Operations Manager can create a section entitled Operational Productivity Improvements to show important achievements. This executive resume sample uses a section called Signature Performance Benchmarks.

Light on experience? Group your training under keywords that make sense to employers, such as Sales Education, Leadership Training, or Technology Knowledge.

A caveat: be sure to change your resume headings BACK to typical phrases if you’re submitting an online application likely to pass through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) – and send the pretty one directly to hiring managers.

3 – Give recruiters something else to read besides your job titles.

Are your job titles very general, such as Associate Analyst or Senior Consultant? Help employers out (please!) by specifying exactly what you do in your career.

Get creative and add another line underneath your real title with more descriptive terms such as Project Manager, Product Development Analyst, or Business Process Reengineering Manager.

4 – Change your cover letter’s enclosure line.

Adding just “Resume” with the notation Enc. after your signature doesn’t quite cut it as a parting shot.

How about Enc: Business Development Leadership Resume or Attached: Senior Leadership Qualifications Summary instead?

5 – Try adding a P.S. to your letter.

The power of the post script (or P.S.) is well-documented. Marketing studies have proven over and over that this may be the most-read sentence of your entire cover letter.

Branch out a little and try a grand finale such as “I’ll be glad to share my ideas for bringing XYZ Company’s Western region revenue to #1 in the nation. May we talk?”

In conclusion, don’t believe everything you read about a single RIGHT way to create a resume or cover letter.

Instead, experiment by adding some flair and road-testing different ways of stating the same information – and you can easily end up with a better response.

 

Executive Resume Writer

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 and top C-suite, EVP, VP, and Director positions at Fortune 500 firms, niche companies, start-ups, and emerging industry leaders, using powerhouse documents and executive job search techniques tailored to today’s job market.

Get in touch with me to experience the outstanding results I can bring to your transition.

– Laura Smith-Proulx, CCMC, CPRW, CPBA, TCCS, COPNS, CIC, CTTCC

How and why to reframe resume achievements for a better impression

If you’re struggling to convey the magnitude of what you’ve achieved throughout your career, you’re in the same boat with many others. This seems to be the ultimate sticking point for resume writing on many levels… where candidates just can’t make that leap through the WORDS to get to the MESSAGE.

The best way to get employers to take note of what you can do for them, though, is to quantify it and put it in terms that anyone can understand. Again, if this seems tough to do, don’t despair.

I recommend taking a step back and looking at the overall picture when it comes to your work. What projects were you taking on at each company? And what did these projects actually DO for that employer? Cut inefficiency? Increase income? Allow it to compete on a larger scale?

If you can recall the size and scope of different initiatives that you’ve handled, you’re at a good starting point. By scope, I mean budget, number of people affected, and so on.

Your next step is to look at the impact your efforts had on the project, then the effect that this project had on the company. It shouldn’t be hard to do, especially if you had to get involved with stakeholders who had to be convinced that this project was essential to their department, or user that were eager to get to the results stage because they KNEW what effect the project would have.

So… beef up Designed detailed program specifications for businesses in the Western region like this:

First Iteration:
Created detailed technical requirements to support $750K project affecting 12 locations in the Western region.

Second and final iteration:
Supported companywide transition to imaged processing that saved 10 FTEs ($550K annually) by creating detailed technical specifications for $750K project affecting 12 locations in the Western region.

Yes, it’s longer, but the final version of this sentence talks about the context (an impact to the whole company), plus quantifiable achievements that occurred as a result ($550K annual savings), plus the size of the overall effort ($750K).

These figures are the absolute essentials to a strong resume! Plus, they speak directly to employers about your effect on the bottom line, which is a hard message to ignore.

How to quit rewriting your resume for each job

Several executives have recently sent me their resumes in anticipation of our working together, and one thing struck me from viewing the files: these candidates were already working on versions 10 (and up) of their resumes!

If you find yourself writing and rewriting your resume just to get it to “fit” a particular job description or employer, stop and read this instead.

When you continually rework your presentation to fit someone else’s needs, you’re stepping into reactive mode on your job search, and this doesn’t bode well. For one, tailoring your resume to a particular job opening means that you’re putting yourself at the mercy of employers… reworking, rewriting, and waiting, over and over again.

For another, I DON’T recommend tailoring your resume to each job description. There, I’ve said it. I don’t believe that the “rule” that gets passed around as gospel, where you must have a different resume for each job. Here’s why:

Your value proposition doesn’t change, no matter what job you’re seeking. If your resume eloquently and consisely describes your core brand value and achievements, there’s very little reason to tune it over and over.

The other issue with resume customization is that you’re obviously answering job ads as a search method–and it’s one that I don’t recommend.

Try this instead: build your resume around a specific JOB TYPE, rather than a JOB AD. Say you’re pursuing an Operations Manager role, but you’d also be interested in a Sales Operations job.

Create just 2 resumes for these goals, incorporating different resume presentation (because different audiences will hire for each of these jobs), a unique set of keywords that match each job type, and a value proposition that clearly states qualifications for each target.

Next, create a list of 10 companies where you feel your skills could make a difference in each of these roles. Create a custom letter, find out who the COO is (because that’s the likely hiring manager), and send him or her your focused resume and cover letter for the job you want.

Repeat THIS process over and over – you’ll see a dramatic increase in response and the number of interviews you’ll win.

There – isn’t that simpler than tracking which version of 12 that you’re issuing to a nameless, faceless job ad? Declaring your independence from continual resume reworkis much easier and a much more high-ROI activity than the change-apply-wait cycle you’re already using.

Lacking a Degree? You’d be Surprised at the Company You Have

I wish I had a dime for every executive or manager who discussed their career situation with me, then said in a hushed voice, “…but there’s something else. You see, I don’t have a degree.”

Invariably, I end up spending at least 10 minutes convincing them that they are NOT alone. It seems I work with more professionals, managers, and even executives all the time who never finished (or started) college, yet were able to ascend the career ladder just the same.

What’s their secret? Not much, actually–unless you count significant strategic contributions, belief in themselves, and just plain old hard work. Maybe no one ever told them they “couldn’t” or “shouldn’t” be doing what they do best!

Put THAT in the back of your mind the next time that nagging doubt about your qualifications sets in.