Executive Resume: Mistakes to Avoid
A resume of a recent graduate will be very different from an executive level resume. If you are an executive that means that have extensive experience of running things which means you should offer way more than an entry level job seeker. When it comes to resume writing, executives have so much more headache as they need to communicate all of their qualifications and experience and translate it to the employer needs. Strategy development, acquisitions, sales management, contract negotiations, project management – you probably have expertise in most of these areas or even more… The question is how to present all of those skills in the most effective manner. We have seen so many executive level resumes that are off the mark. For some reason they believe that they have got everything they need in terms of skills and all that is left is just to list what they did in the past. Those who think that way can’t be further from the truth.
These Will Not Do
First of all, if you are a senior executive they key things about you shouldn’t be a number of departments you supervised or the number of organizations you led. This most common error has already cost a job to many managers and executives. Because they focus on how many people they managed and what kind of divisions they directed executives miss the whole point. And the point is what you accomplished (i.e. results of your management). You could manage 1000 people and still accomplish nothing. And who would want to have an employee like that? Pretty much no company would hire an executive like this. So the focus is accomplishments then. And when we say accomplishments we mean real ones, not just vague statements which are meaningless for hiring managers (i.e. quote one of your colleagues saying something good about you or say that you helped the company achieve its goals). Strategy-actions-result-impact – this is a great pattern to develop the accomplishments section. And if you are an executive we are confident you will have what to write there.
Having said that, that doesn’t mean that your resume will contain only accomplishments. In this case you will probably have just a half page resume. So it is likely you will list some of the things you oversaw. But the mistake is to mention those things without introducing the context. You don’t have to list all of details but some things could be helpful for employers to understand what you actually did. For example, mentioning that you coordinated the work of 200-person team located in 14 countries will be much more helpful than just saying your oversaw the operations of a customer service department.
Another mistake is to provide information about past employments in details. Some executives include jobs that they had 15 or even 20 years ago. This takes some space on your resume and as a result (since you don’t have unlimited space) you don’t have enough of it for your current jobs. This may happen because executives don’t update their resume too often. But anyway, it is better to omit some of the past experience in order to have more space to present your current employments. Hiring managers are more interested in what you did 2-5 years ago.
Lastly, for some reason many executives believe that an objective statement is a better way to introduce themselves. Well, not today. HR managers don’t care much about your objectives, all they care about is the objectives of the company they represent. So unless your objectives completely matches the objectives of the employer then you are better off omitting it. Instead, list a summary of most relevant qualifications and skills that would speak to employer’s needs. Three of four statements about your experience can make the difference. It is also not enough just to develop a header and place it on the top of your resume. But it would be very helpful to have both an effective header and a summary.