Try this: pick up your resume and scan it for about 10 seconds. Now put it down and write down what you can remember. Now ask yourself, “Would I call this person”? If your executive resume does not have a clear value proposition that compels someone to call you, then you need to make some changes. Here are 4 ways to do that and immediately improve your results.
1. Have a clear value proposition.
Call it personal branding or a unique selling proposition, the bottom-line is employers want to quickly know, “Who are you and why should I consider you for this position”? Start by taking the fluff out of your resume’s opening. I define “fluff” as statements that anyone can make but no one can prove. For example, “results-oriented,” “great communicator” and “accomplished professional.”
Here’s a simple trick. Make believe you are on Jeopardy and Alex Trebek is introducing you to the audience. Would he really say, “Here is an accomplished executive with great leadership skills and the ability to motivate staff?” Probably not. Instead you would hear something like “Our next contestant is a senior IT executive who specializes in startups and turnarounds. He has worked at such industry leaders as EDS and Accenture where he used world-class best practices and methodologies to drive record levels of revenues, profits and market share.” In short, what can you do for the company and what do you bring to the company that makes you stand out?
2. Keep a consistent theme throughout the resume.
Now that you have established a clear value proposition in your opening, you must continue that theme throughout the rest of the executive resume. If you stated that you are great at turnarounds, then your resume should answer the questions: What did you do and what was the result? Don’t lead with your managing a migration from Windows XP to Windows 7 unless it was an important part of your turnaround strategy.
3. Make your executive resume easy to read.
I was trained by one of the best copywriters in the world, a man who was paid $114,000 per day for his direct mail copy (he commanded that much because his work would sell millions more than other people’s work). His tip to me? Your document must have a compelling message and be easy to read.
The same is true for an executive resume. A 1-page densely written resume is hard to read; a 3-page easy to read resume that has little valuable content will not land an interview. Choose an appropriate font like Tahoma or Calibri and make sure the resume is physically easy on the eyes. Just as important is to make sure you have followed the rules and stayed with your theme.
Should you have a 1-page resume or a 3-page resume? Yes. See my previous blog, What the Well-Equipped Executive has in Their Portfolio
4. Pepper your resume with testimonials.
A great way to prove your value is to intelligently pepper the resume with quotes and testimonials from bosses, customers and colleagues. This is especially true if you are changing career directions.
For example, I prepared an executive resume for a retiring Colonel but his military experience had no bearing to what he would do in a civilian leadership role. We added quotes like “One of the Top 5 Officers I ever worked with” from a General in the Pentagon and he received dozens of calls. Testimonials are third-party tributes to your value and you should make them easy to find by placing at least one on the first page.
If your executive resume is not getting the results you want, try these simple tricks and you should see a big difference in your job search results.