Overthinking a resume

How to Stop Overthinking Your Executive Resume

If you are editing, rewriting, and obsessing over every detail in your executive resume, you may be overthinking resume content and the resume creation process.

Crafting a compelling executive resume that achieves modern standards and shares high-impact career details is not an easy thing to do. Looking inward to assess your strengths and weaknesses, choosing skillsets and accomplishments to highlight, and pouring your value and experience into a 2-page document is challenging! Yet, you donโ€™t want to become so paralyzed by the process that you cannot move forward and create a file you feel confident about.


Areas You May Be Overthinking in the Resume Writing Process

Job requirements

It’s important to recognize that no candidate will perfectly match every qualification listed in the job posting. Employers understand that each candidate brings unique skills, experiences, and perspectives to the table.

While strong alignment with the job requirements is crucial, it’s equally important to acknowledge that there will be a learning curve when stepping into a new position. Aim for a good match — and confidence in conducting the role — versus a perfect match.


Skills and qualifications

Building off the above, it is essential to share examples of job requirements in your resume. But you only need examples that matter to the reader.ย  Avoid sharing details that are not relevant. Target your resume for each job. To help, start by identifying the essential skills for each specific role. Not sure what these are? The job posting is your guide! Go through each posting to carefully pick out key skills, job requirements, and must-haves. Then make a point to address these in your file.

Rather than simply generically listing skills, consider incorporating concrete examples or achievements that illustrate your proficiency. For instance, if the job requires strong project management skills, you might highlight a successful project you led from conception to completion, detailing specific outcomes and results achieved.

Additionally, quantifying your achievements whenever possible can further strengthen your resume. Numbers and metrics provide tangible evidence of your capabilities and impact, whether it’s increasing efficiency, reducing costs, or driving revenue growth. For example, instead of stating that you improved customer satisfaction, you could specify that you increased customer satisfaction ratings by 20% within six months and HOW.

Once you have provided several well-rounded, robust, and specific examples of your related abilities that align with the job posting, stop. In a resume, less can be more.


Employment gaps

Did you take time off to care for children, travel, or test out a new business opportunity? Maybe you were laid off. Donโ€™t stress about the gap. Instead, consider if it makes sense to provide a short explanation to appease the curious reader. When explaining employment gaps, be concise and focus on the positive aspects of your experience. Avoid dwelling on the reasons for the gap and instead emphasize what you potentially gained during that time.

Employment gaps are normal, so there is no need to give these timeframes a big focus in your resume. Keep any mentions of them succinct.


Template and layout

There is no one right way to design a resume. If in doubt, choose a clean look with an easy-to-read font and decent white space. Readability is key!

When organizing your resume, prioritize the most relevant and important information, such as your work experience, skills, and education. Use a clear and logical structure, with sections arranged to make it easy for the reader to navigate and find the information they need. Help essential sections or content pop off the page with shading or bolding.

You can consider the aesthetic of your resume and how it reflects your personal brand; however, be mindful not to sacrifice readability or professionalism for the sake of creativity. It’s important to maintain a professional appearance with quality content. Many resume templates found online look lovely…but a fancy resume doesn’t always equate to a better resume. Content is king in a resume; don’t get too carried away with the design.

For ideas on resume layouts, check out these resume samples.


Writing skills

At some point, you have to stop editing. If you continue to read and reread your resume, you will always find something to switch up. While it’s essential to ensure your document is polished and error-free, there comes a point where you must stop editing and trust in the strength of your content. Endless revisions can lead to diminishing returns and may even undermine your confidence in your abilities.

Employ a third-party proofreader, even a friend, or run the file through Grammarly. Then stop. Once you’ve given it your best effort and made necessary adjustments, it’s time to trust in the quality of your resume and move forward with confidence.


Deadline to submit

Try not to rush. It’s better to take the time and tailor your resume to the job rather than rushing to be the first to submit it.

While it may be tempting to rush through the resume-writing process and be done with it, customizing your resume to the job is well worth the effort. A strong and targeted resume increases your relevance, highlights your fit for the role, helps you stand out from the competition, and builds confidence in your candidacy. Slow down. You may only get one shot at the job – make it count.

Finally, to avoid rushing in the first place, always have your resume ready. That’s right. Don’t wait for the perfect posting to appear. Build your executive resume in advance when you have the time and capacity. This ensures you only have to make small adjustments (customizations) for each application.


Should I even apply?

When in doubt, ask if you feel qualified to do the job and can back up claims with proof. If you meet the core competencies and are confident you can do the job, why not throw your hat in the ring?

Embracing new challenges, demonstrating confidence and initiative, and seizing growth opportunities can lead to valuable learning experiences, personal development, and professional advancement. Believe in yourself and write your resume with purpose and confidence. Remember, the only person in the driver’s seat of your career is you. If you don’t promote yourself, who will?


How to Stop Overanalyzing Executive Resume Content

Step back and take a break

Sometimes, you need a little space away from the file to clear your head. When resume writing starts to get overwhelming, step away. Return with a fresh mindset.


Reach out for feedback

Ask someone whose opinion you respect. When you’re so close to something, it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. However, an outside perspective can pinpoint things you might be overlooking. Just ensure the feedback is from a trusted source as everyone reads resumes differently.


Consider turning to a professional

Professional resume writers see and produce hundreds of resumes each year. They know what works and what doesnโ€™t and can partner with you to build a modern and effective file. Look for a writer with experience and a collaborative process.


Get into the mindset of your audience

Thinking like a potential employer will help you better target your resume for each specific job. What problems do they have that you can help solve? What are the essential qualifications for this particular position? Aim to address their pain points.


Build your brand

What is the overarching message you want to portray? For example, are you an efficient leader who builds high-performance teams? Or are you a problem solver who is always looking to create efficiencies and innovate new procedures? Be prepared to share examples of success in these areas. It is imperative to keep track of your career achievements over time so you can easily add these to a resume. Use this free 75-day accomplishment journal to help.

Pay attention to your mindset and self-talk

It can be tough to stay positive during a job search. Often, we overthink or let negative thoughts creep in. Challenge negative self-talk and consciously work to reframe thinking into a more positive focus. Yes, you deserve a meaningful job you enjoy! Yes, you can create a great resume.


Look at the big picture

A resume alone will not get you a job. There are many other aspects of a successful job search. Ensure you are allocating sufficient time for a variety of search activities. Diversify your actions, and donโ€™t let the resume become the center of your search.


Realize you canโ€™t control everything

Overanalyzing is often rooted in perfectionism, which leads to perfection paralysis. Thereโ€™s no such thing as perfect –ย  put your best foot forward, and then step back and let things unfold. Focus on things you can control (actions, emotions) and not on things you can not control (employerโ€™s choices and selections).


To some degree, overthinking the executive resume writing process is expected and ok – it is one of the most important documents you will craft for your career. However, if you are overthinking every detail, take a step back, ask for help, and have confidence that your leadership abilities and value will shine through.

If you are looking for a second opinion, please reach out. Iโ€™d love to hear more about the executive role you are seeking and how I can help!

Adrienne Tom

Looking to get noticed for top jobs? I can help. Visit me online at CareerImpressions.ca to learn more about my award-winning resume and LinkedIn writing services that helped C-suite executives, VPs, and directors land top jobs at billion-dollar companies, start-ups, and everything in between. โšœ ๐—ฌ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ฟ ๐˜€๐˜๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜† ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ผ๐—น๐—ฑ. Everyone has value to offer employers. But conveying this story in a modern, succinct executive resume isnโ€™t easy. I can do this for you. โšœ ๐—œ ๐—ผ๐—ณ๐—ณ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—บ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—ท๐˜‚๐˜€๐˜ โ€˜๐—ฎ ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜‚๐—บ๐—ฒโ€™. I'm often told that my process is as valuable as the final documents. People feel more empowered and confident after our work together. โšœ ๐— ๐˜† ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜‚๐—บ๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐˜„๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ธ. I hear amazing success stories from my clients. For 15+ years, I have written hundreds of executive resumes and LinkedIn profiles that generated increased recognition and escalated earning power for my clients.

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