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9 Signs That Your Executive Resume Won’t Make the Cut

January 2, 2010

If you’ve been in the same position or industry for years, it can be hard to come up to speed on executive resume (CV) writing trends when a job search suddenly looms in your future.

What if you leave out relevant facts? What if employers don’t realize everything you’ve accomplished in your executive career? Worst of all, what if a lesser-qualified applicant makes the cut–while you don’t?

First of all, take a deep breath! Most employers are aware that you’ve worked your way up the corporate ladder to reach an executive role. The chances of being eliminated because you didn’t describe that mainframe bank conversion from 1995 are slim to none.


However, you’ll find that it pays to ensure that your executive resume (CV) writing abilities are cutting-edge. While a resume (CV) used to be merely a single-page rehash of your career, it’s now a pivotal document that can prevent you from landing interviews at your desired level.

Take a careful look at these 9 common executive resume (CV) writing problems–and the fixes behind them that can boost your interview potential:

  1. You’re unsure as to what a resume (CV) should look like, so you’re tempted to use that built-in template from Microsoft Word.

  2. Fix: One of the biggest mistakes in executive resume writing is presentation. Like any other career marketing document, an executive (CV) resume must quickly convey your unique value proposition and brand.

    If you’re not sure what a truly effective, branded resume looks like, use an Internet search to find executive resume samples that can give you strong visual examples.

  3. You’ve added an objective statement because you’re not sure what else to put at the top of your resume (CV). Besides, how will employers know what you want if you don’t specify it?

  4. Fix: Since objective statements are seen as self-serving, their popularity has long since passed.

    Using a leadership summary instead, combined with a clear job and resume title, can show employers why you’re their top executive candidate and give them an idea of how you will solve their business problems.

  5. You’re concerned that employers won’t realize what you’ve accomplished unless you include everything you’ve done.

  6. Fix: It’s important to realize that recruiters are becoming increasingly turned off by too-long resumes (CV’s) that resemble novels.

    When writing an executive resume, the focus must be primarily on the results that you’ve attained–preferably in dollar figures. Keep the resume to 2 pages for improved readability and a better reception from recruiters.

  7. You’ve crammed your resume into a single page because you’ve always understood this as a requirement, shrinking the font to make everything fit.

  8. Fix: While you might think of the single-page rule as a requirement for resume writing, this idea actually got its start from the era of typewriters!

    These days, effective resume writing practices dictate the transformation of tightly crammed documents into easy-to-read, 2-page resumes, while using a font of at least 10-11 points.

  9. You’re having trouble recalling all the revenue numbers, budget figures, and other facts of your career, but you’ve spent a lot of time describing your duties.

  10. Fix: Task-oriented resumes, particularly at an executive level, just don’t cut it any more. Most hiring authorities are interested in your results, especially in terms of dollar figures.

    If you can’t lay claim to specific amounts for your resume, state percentages of revenue improvement or cost reductions that reflect your achievements.

  11. You’ve added block-paragraph descriptions of each major achievement or job, rather than breaking up your text .

  12. Fix: The intensity of the job market has made speed-reading a must. In order to make your resume scannable in a mere 10 seconds, add plenty of white space by using bullet-style sentences.

  13. Your last job isn’t that relevant to your career, so you’ve decided to use a functional resume to cover this fact.

  14. Fix: Functional resume formats, which rely on skill descriptions while minimizing work history, have never impressed employers.

    To carry sufficient impact, an executive resume must show your career history in reverse chronological format. Use the executive summary to mention important facets of your background that are relevant to your goal.

  15. You’re proud of your long tenure in the industry and want everyone to know that you have “over 25 years” of experience.

  16. Fix: Nothing tells an employer that your skills are outdated faster than a summary like this, which can reveal your age while missing core elements of your qualifications.

    Writing a compelling executive resume means that the focus must shift from meaningless summaries to the impact of your work on bottom-line profit, expenses, and efficiency.

  17. With so many possibilities to use your skills, you’ve added all of them to your executive resume so that employers can figure out what jobs you’re qualified to perform.

Fix: A general resume doesn’t tell employers why you’re perfect for a specific position.

If you find that your qualifications extend to more than one job type, create different variations of your executive resume tailored to each position, incorporating a relevant brand proposition and competencies in each version.

In summary, even if it’s been light years since you wrote your last resume, you CAN bring the document up to current trends, using corrections for common misconceptions that will help win the interviews you deserve.

About the Author: Global resume authority Laura Smith-Proulx, CCMC, CPRW, CIC of An Expert Resume (http://www.anexpertresume.com ) is a former recruiter who partners with CIO, CTO, CEO, COO, and CFO candidates to create compelling, powerful executive resumes. A national resume columnist and media source, her work opens doors to prestigious jobs at major corporations, and has been recognized with top resume writing awards.

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