As an executive resume writer, I have reviewed thousands of resumes over my career. Many resumes fall flat with recruiters and hiring managers because they contain little differentiating information or rely on tired phrases about a candidate’s personal attributes that are never substantiated anywhere in the document. The goal of the resume is to stand out, not to look like everyone else. Based on my experience, here are the things every executive should know (and avoid) when transforming their resume.
• Just because you did it doesn’t mean it belongs on your resume. Craft key stories of your success that are relevant to today’s business challenges and decision makers.
• Stating you are a “dedicated visionary leader” is both nebulous and somewhat arrogant. Prove value, show facts and ditch personal attributes on your resume.
• Stating on your resume that you grew sales by 15% is meaningless. Maybe everyone else in the office increased sales by 30%. Add context to your performance metrics to differentiate and show value.
• Don’t write “knowledge of Spanish” on your resume. You either speak it or you don’t. Comprende?
• Listing hobbies, such as reading and cooking, on your resume do very little for your candidacy and generally aren’t relevant to the hiring manager. Save that space for more important and meaningful accomplishments.
• If you keep getting calls for the “wrong type of job,” your resume contains the “wrong type of content.”
• The majority of resumes that I see are merely a job description copied and pasted onto fancy paper. A good resume rests on the weight of your achievements, not the weight of the paper.
• On your resume, don’t write about the things you were expected to do; write about the things you did that no one ever dreamed possible.
• Using the phrase “game changing” on a resume has become cliche. Once you write “game changing,” it’s “game over.” Similarly, if you choose to describe yourself as an “out-of-the-box thinker,” you aren’t one. Ditch this cliche as well on resumes and social media profiles.
• No one searches for job candidates using words like “passionate.” They search based on specific competencies necessary for the job, so be sure to include those.
• No one reads your resume, whether it’s one page or 50 pages. They scan it. So make sure content shows impact and value quickly.
• Most executives are suffering with the same resume format they have used since graduate school. It’s time for a change. Use a format with more of an executive presence and tone.
• Include graduation dates on your resume; omitting them raises suspicion and calls more attention to the very thing you are trying to hide.
• Resumes from country to country are not as different as people would like to believe. Whether you live in New York City or Timbuktu, the promise of your unique value is a universal language.
• Before you blame your resume for your lack of job prospects, examine how you are using that resume. Even the best resume in the world will fall flat without an accompanying job search strategy.
• Even though you still need one because the other half report that they do.
• Like pet rocks, disco and rotary phones, Courier 10 font belongs in the past.
Your resume is one of the most important documents you will ever write. Show it the love it deserves by incorporating some of these ideas into your next update.
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