Sinking Your Job Search

Is Your Text-Heavy Executive Resume Sinking Your Job Search?

If you are using a text-heavy resume and not getting called for interviews, the reason could be that employers are drowning in your long narrative. 

Hiring personnel don’t want to wade through content-heavy documents. They desire short and well-tailored overviews that speak to their needs while succinctly showcasing coveted skills.

In short – the easier a resume is to read, the higher the chances it will be read.

A common barrier that executives face is summarizing robust career details.

To help, 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 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. No need to cram everything onto 1 page at this career level, but modern executive resumes should be lean and concise to capture and keep the attention of busy readers.

Although length alone does not determine resume effectiveness, extraordinarily 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 a heavy emphasis on tasks and duties, are a waste of prime resume real estate. Employers are not as interested in what you did compared to how well you did it.

Minimize responsibilities and focus on personal performance. Spoon feed 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; it buries key points.

Bullet select information in the resume for easier readability, including key accomplishments, big business wins, and personal achievements.

Bulleted points are long or numerous

Even bulleted statements in a resume can get wordy and lose a reader’s interest. Aim to keep points to an average of 2 lines each, ensuring information doesn’t get murky.

Also, avoid ‘bullet barf’. Bulleted points are great in small groups, but long lists of bulleted points diminish impact. Try for 3 to 5 bulleted points per position.

Excessive filler words are used: “a, to, the, of…”

Although warranted at times, these filler words should be eliminated as much as possible to tighten content. It’s ok to use more concise speech and grammar in a resume.

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.”

Simply 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. Focus on recent work history, detailing leadership positions over earlier, starting roles.

For executives, sharing the most recent 15 years of work experience, give or take, is sufficient. Also, the further back in time you get on your resume, the less robust information needs to be. Only provide very early career details if experiences are absolutely required or 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 centred around the need to make money, save money, or increase efficiencies. Your resume must demonstrate, clearly and concisely, how you are the solution!

Demonstrate value with clear examples of well-aligned achievements and success. Prove your claims!

Finally, don’t make the reader hunt for why you are the best candidate. Spell it out! Spoon feed the reader your value in bite-sized details and use similar language and keywords to increase interest and understanding.

To summarize, resume readers don’t care about all the details. Only those that matter to them. 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.’ Sharper content focus and format will ensure you enjoy smoother sailing throughout your job search!





Adrienne Tom

Looking to take your executive resume or job search to the next level to land your next job faster and increase your earning power? I can help! Visit me online at 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.

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