Text heavy documents are sinking the job search of many frustrated executive job seekers, who are left wondering why they are not getting called for interviews.
The reason is simple: employers don’t want to drown within long narratives. They desire short and well-tailored overviews that speak to their needs succinctly while showcasing the skills they covet.
In short– the easier a resume is to read, the smoother the sailing will be for job seekers.
To start, approach the resume writing process with the goal of quality over quantity.
A resume is not a biography, it’s a marketing tool. Avoid listing copious amounts of dry and dusty job details that weigh down the file and water down worth. Instead, zero in on value and align offerings with needs. Provide a solid sampling of relevant facts related to the targeted role.
Below is a short ‘test’ to help you identify if your executive resume is taking on water.
If you answer yes to any of the points below, grab a life vest and start bailing!
The resume is longer than three pages
Typical resume length for executives is 2 to 3 pages. Definitely no need to cram everything onto 1 page at this career level, but keep in mind that today’s resumes must be leaner and more succinct to capture and keep the attention of busy readers.
Although length alone does not determine resume effectiveness, extremely long or verbose files are rarely appreciated, nor read in full. Save extra facts and supporting details for the interview.
The employment history section reads like a job description
Lengthy overviews of each past role, with heavy emphasis on tasks and duties are a waste of prime resume real estate. Employers are not interested in what you did, but how well you did it. Minimize focus on responsibilities and focus on personal performance instead.
Spoon fed the reader value-enhanced, metric-driven snippets of success to build confidence and excitement.
There are no bulleted points
If you are presenting all details in paragraph form, watch out! Dense text is not only harder to scan and absorb, but it causes key points to become buried. Bullet key points for easier readability and to better separate and highlight key accomplishments, big business wins, and personal achievements.
Bulleted points are long-winded or copious
Even bulleted statements in a resume can get wordy. Aim to keep points succinct by averaging 2 lines per point as much as possible. If you can’t say it in two lines or less, information is likely getting murky. In addition, don’t ‘bullet barf’ all over the pages.
Bulleted points are great in small groups, but long lists of bulleted points diminish impact. Aim for 3 to 5 bulleted points per position.
Excessive filler words are used: “a, to, the, of…”
Although these words are warranted at times, in a resume they should be eliminated as much as possible. It’s ok to use more succinct speech and grammar in this critical career file. Distill down details to focus primarily on results and personal actions. For example, instead of saying:
“Created and implemented new marketing campaign in close collaboration with five people on the team which generated a 10% year over year increase to sales.”
You can say:
“Generated 10% YOY sales increase, working with a team of 5 to create and deliver new marketing campaign”.
Career history dates back more than 15 years
No need to list every job you have ever had on your resume. This is a strategic file that requires a careful sampling of related and most relevant career material. For executives, providing the most recent 15 years of work experience, give or take, is all that is required.
The further back in time you get on your resume, the less robust information needs to be. Only provide very early career details if the experience is absolutely required or very beneficial for the targeted role.
Value isn’t easy to spot
This last point is the most important one. In short, every employer has a pain point typically centered around common requirements to make money, save money, or increase efficiencies. Your resume must demonstrate, clearly and concisely, how you are their solution! Demonstrate value with clear examples of well-aligned achievements and success. Proof your claims!
Finally, don’t make the reader hunt for the WHY. Why you are the best candidate? Spell it out! Spoon feed your value to every reader in bite-sized details and use similar language and keywords to increase interest and understanding!
They want to read results, but most importantly they want to know if you can make results happen for THEM.
Make it easy for employers to locate key facts and the ROI you offer as a candidate in your executive resume by keeping resume material ‘lean and clean’.
A sharper content focus and format will ensure you enjoy smoother sailing throughout your job search!
Looking to take your executive resume to the next level to land your next job faster and increase your earning power? Visit me online at: www.CareerImpressions.ca to learn more about my award-winning resume writing, LinkedIn writing, and job search strategies for top professionals and executives located across Canada and the USA.