Executive Resume Strategy: Employ a Business Mindset
An executive (let’s call him Martin) approached me, looking to step up to a vice president of operations role at a major international organization. The company had expressed interest in him but wanted to see a formal executive resume. That’s where I came in.
Martin and I worked together to unearth his related career achievements, define supporting metrics, and nail down his value proposition. In a week, I had a new executive resume ready for his review.
He loved it. Except…
He thought the resume should include more content beyond the current 2-page format. His reasoning? He wanted his entire 30-year career history present.
Martin felt deeply attached to his career roles and was proud of each experience. The trouble was earlier career details were unrelated to the executive-level target. He risked “watering down” his message and weakening the resume’s impact by including unrelated content.
As an executive resume writer, I see many professionals mistakenly view their resume as a career chronology (everything they’ve ever done) and not as a strategic career tool. Shifting perspectives isn’t easy, but it’s necessary for resume and job search success. Your resume may be about you, but it isn’t meant for you.
What Martin wanted to see on his resume didn’t matter. Instead, he needed to employ an important executive resume strategy and put himself in the reader’s shoes (the employer). He had to imagine what they wanted to see and feed them the details that mattered most.
Keep Personal Preference Aside; Employ a Business Mindset
I urged Martin to approach his entire job search like he would a business project. He would need a clearly defined plan of action, executable steps, a focused target, and a sharp sales presentation.
That’s where the resume comes in. If a resume is written with the end goal in mind and aligned with a prospective employer’s needs, it presents you, the candidate, as an essential business solution. Ask yourself: Is your earlier career history going to help you “seal the deal?”
Martin agreed his earlier details weren’t relevant. He let go of his personal preferences and agreed to strategically position resume details for the reader. He stopped worrying about his desires and put the employer’s necessities first.
If you find yourself falling down the same rabbit hole as Martin, here are three core requirements to keep your executive resume focused and on track:
1. Know your audience. Have a job posting or a job target in mind, and always write for that audience. Always.
2. Know yourself. Yes, the resume isn’t meant for you, but it should specifically point out your qualifications and value-add. You can’t sell something you don’t understand. If you aren’t sure what your unique value proposition is in relation to the job, seek help from a career professional to sort it out.
3. Know what matters. Ensure you have a solid grasp of modern resume trends and requirements. Successful resumes need value, clarity, targeted content, qualifications, achievements, and metrics, all packaged in a succinct format. If you struggle to unearth and compile things independently, commission support from an expert.
Executives, approach your resume strategy with a business mindset to reduce personal bias. By considering the needs of your target audience, resume content will remain focused, thought-provoking and engaging.
This article was originally published in Forbes.
Another important strategy for 2023: Go beyond business results in a resume. Read my insights in this Forbes post.
Leave a Comment