I see it all the time: high-level, super-talented executives earning six-figure salaries, leading large organizations, and making major financial impacts with mediocre (at best) resumes.
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It doesn't have to be this way. Your resume should be just as impressive as your actual career. After all, it is a representation of your professional life.
Mediocre resumes happen to the best of us – especially if we never take time out of our professional journeys to reflect exactly on what makes us great.
But that's no excuse, especially not for executives. Today, it is vital to have a branded executive resume that sells your value. The job market is definitely not what it was when you first started your career and worked your way up the corporate ladder. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there.
Okay, maybe I'm being a bit dramatic – but if you don't know how to play the game, you're dead in the water.
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There are a multitude of ways to brand your executive resume and really sell yourself. Here are a few tips on the topic from a certified resume expert:
1. Pinpoint Your Uniqueness
Think about it: When you're hiring, you're looking for someone special. You want that purple squirrel with a proven track record and a specific set of skills that will positively impact the business.
Well, now the tables have turned. You need to be that someone special in a hiring manager's life.
Funny, isn't it?
Start by taking inventory of what you've done for your past employers. Look for trends in your career history. Perhaps you're the go-to guy (or gal) for realigning and reenergizing disjointed teams. Maybe you're the person who can integrate technology into business operations to maximize profits.
Whatever it is, it's your unique story. Once you figure it out, tie it back to what your future bosses will be looking for in a candidate. Then, infuse this message into your resume.
Master this, and everything else should fall into place. Your resume will morph into a value-based, highly focused document that sells you like hot cakes!
2. Quantify Your Achievements
Don't be afraid to add a few numbers here and there – or, screw it, everywhere!
No, seriously: Try to incorporate performance metrics into every bullet.
Tell the reader how much money you saved, how many new clients you secured, how much revenue you generated, how many team members you led, how much you improved productivity, how many states were in your territory, how many cups of coffee you drank every day – oops. Sorry. I got carried away for a second.
The point is, quantifying your achievements validates your claims of being a great leader. Here's a quick example: Instead of writing, "Led team of engineers in the integration of multiple process-improvement initiatives," you can dig deeper and get more specific: "Led team of 60 engineers in the integration of 12 large-scale process-improvement initiatives with combined budget of $25M."
This gives the reader a better idea of the scope of what you did while offering them an opportunity to determine if the position at hand is a good fit for you. Surely you wouldn't want to go from a team of 60 to a team of 5? You likely want to move upward and onward to increasingly challenging roles. This is a great way for the recruiter to understand your level and how it aligns with the open position.
3. Add a Graph or Chart That Highlights Your Accomplishments
You only have an average of six seconds to impress a recruiter with your resume. What's the best way to grab their attention in such a short period of time?
Recruiters aren't going to dig through dense paragraphs to find your achievements. Why should they? They don't have the time to play detective and search through your resume to figure out why you're special. Make it crystal clear.
A graph or chart that showcases how much you grew productivity or how you led sales to explode 300 percent in one year conveys the message much faster than a buried sentence could.
Furthermore, a chart or graph can break up the monotony for recruiters, who look at hundreds of resumes day in and day out. Most are pretty lackluster. Further differentiating yourself by putting forth a professional, but exciting document that makes you stand out – that is the name of the game.
I know: Your expertise is in generating revenue for your company, not writing about yourself. Still, these tips should help you get off to a good start. And if you're not sure that you can do this on your own, you can always look for help from a credentialed executive resume writer.
Melanie L. Denny is president of Resume-Evolution.