Has your dream job come out of nowhere and you’re in desperate need of an updated resume? If it’s been a while since you dusted off your file and you need it NOW, here are 3 quick ways to update your executive resume and get it noticed.
Find your focus
Winning executive summaries have a clear focus. What do you do best? How do you want potential employers to see you and yours career history?
Having a clear work goal ensures that you can position yourself as the perfect fit. It’s much easier to sell yourself to employers if you develop a personal brand that showcases specific career highlights and accomplishments.
Determine what you can do for the employer – what big problem can you solve? How do your skills, qualifications and experience help the organization succeed? Once you know your value proposition, make sure every point in your resume supports it.
Know what they need.
To truly position yourself as the person for the role, you need to know exactly what the company needs. By spending a little time researching the company, you can focus on it so you can highlight the features they are looking for. Even a cursory look at company literature and job postings is a great place to start. Pay special attention to keywords and phrases you see frequently (and mirror their language!)
Showcase your achievements.
Boring job descriptions blend in with the crowd, but compelling business facts and results jump off the page and demand attention! Employers want to see what you have accomplished as a senior leader. The best executive summaries include evidence to support your claims.
Use it words action and phrases with numbers, percentages, or comparisons to describe your positions.
Make ruthless cuts.
You only have a couple of pages to make a significant impact – every word counts. Recruiters and employers will spend approx 6-7 seconds on the first pass of the file. Make sure the main points don’t get lost in a sea of unnecessary words.
Edit the file and remove unnecessary content, outdated phrases and overused words.
While your resume is about you, it should focus on what you can do for the company, not what YOU want to see on file. Keep all the points relevant to the value you are offering.
As a rule, managers compile only a detailed work history for the last 10-15 years and take 2-3 pages. Make sure each role has a brief overview (what you were involved in and where you took things) and mark your achievement statements.
Remove any overused words that will appear in every other file (detail oriented, team player, excellent communication skills). Instead of SAYING these things, give examples that SHOW how you use these skills to get results.
Be sure to leave out outdated phrases like “links available upon request” (they know and will ask if they want). And cut out all the unnecessary words – can you say it in 1 word instead of 3? Do it!
Readability is your number one goal. Most recruiters and hiring managers prefer a clean, easy-to-read format. Simple is better, with clearly defined sections, standard fonts and plenty of white space.
- Use a format that adds interest by emphasizing the features you want to express.
- Use keywords to your advantage – You can include certain words or phrases in your file to get noticed, but your #1 priority is to optimize for the human eye. Make sure your reader’s eye is focused on the key points.
- Add interest to your file with color, bold, or italics (use sparingly and strategically).
- Avoid long paragraphs or heavy bullet points. Make sure the details are easy to view and scan.
- Use section headings to organize and make it easier for readers to find the information they need.
- Use numbers instead of writing numbers and % or $ signs instead of words.
- Stay stylish in everything.
- Lead with results (that is, start the statement with the result) versus burying the results far in the text. Remember that readers scan from left to right, so placing the results on the left side of the page will make it easier for them to choose.
Although I always recommend being prepared by having an updated file on hand. When time is of the essence, these 3 quick ways to update your executive resume can help get your file into the hands of interviewers!
For more tips on writing a great executive summary, check out 7 must-haves for an effective executive resume.