There are so many mistakes and “no-no’s” on executive resumes that a Top 5, Top 10, or even Top 20 list couldn’t adequately cover them all. But here are a few you’ll want to make sure your resume doesn’t contain before putting it out there in the marketplace:
- The typical “objective statement” is considered fluff by most recruiters and hiring managers, and justifiably so since most of them are nothing more than fluff. An executive summary or profile is a much better beginning for your executive resume… making a mini business case for why you are the solution to a company’s business problem(s) and why they need to pick up the phone and call you. One partial exception to this is a situation where the targeted position is quite different from or significantly higher than roles the candidate has held during his or her career. But in this instance, a good solution is instead of leading with a headline describing what role you currently occupy, to lead with something like: Target Role: CEO, followed by the profile info which backs up how you are qualified for this role.
- Beware of vague and stilted language that in a boring fashion lists what you were “responsible for.” Instead, talk about tangible, measurable results you delivered.
- Squeezing a 25-30 year career into one or one and a half pages. For high-level executives, academics, and IT professionals, resumes can reasonably go to 3 or sometimes 4 pages. The key is to fold the first page in half and look at what’s above the fold. If you’ve created that mini business case mentioned above, the reader will be looking to flesh out the story. However, this is by no means a license to wax eloquent and verbose!
- Being too modest and self-effacing. This is one time in your life you need to “toot your own horn,” because if you don’t someone else will get the interview. Don’t be afraid to highlight your true, verifiable accomplishments (of course, giving credit where credit is due for team efforts, etc.).
- Trying to create a resume that will market you effectively for widely divergent roles… Firstly, recruiters and hiring executives are very driven by category-specific experience in a candidate. Secondly, there’s truth to the saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.”
In upcoming articles, I’ll highlight some other “must-avoids” in executive resume writing, as well as some very important “Do’s.”