How You Might Improve Your Resume
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out an executive or professional resume that you've invested significant
time (or money) into, but still failing to get employers' attention?
If your value proposition is buried under long, drawn-out sentences, your
brand message may be lost—and your audience confused about why they should
hire you for a leadership role.
Here are some tip-offs to a too-wordy resume that fails to distinguish
your skills and kills your chances with recruiters:
- Your leadership resume easily exceeds the maximum 3 pages that recruiters
- The results of your work appear all the way at the end of each sentence—buried
and hard to find among lengthy, drawn-out explanations
- You've started many phrases or sentences with the same word, which weakens
- Your bullet-point sentences are longer than 2 or 3 lines, which makes
them nearly impossible to scan quickly
- You've added too many adjectives and adverbs, with every achievement
noted as "outstanding," "exceptional," and worst of all, "successful."
(if your efforts weren't successful, why would they appear on your resume?)
If any of these apply to your resume, it's easy to trim excess words and
get hiring managers to act on your qualifications. Here are 3 ways to
cut to the bottom line on your leadership resume, quickly and efficiently:
1 - Skip the verbs and excess explanation for increased impact.
As a branded marketing document, your leadership resume can make use of
sentence fragments that are concise and to the point. However, using too
many words in these sentences—instead of focusing on results—can obscure
the message in your resume, as evidenced by this example:
Original: "Led large-scale operations restructuring and expansion of call
centers and company facilities, resulting in a 63% profit increase in
just three years and the region's lowest personnel costs."
New: "63% profit increase in 3 years plus lowest per-employee expenses
with enterprise-level operations restructuring and expansion."
Here, the original sentence was condensed 37%--but it still conveys the
same meaning. Now, imagine what cutting more than a third of the clutter
could do for the clarity of YOUR executive resume!
To use this technique, make list of front-loaded results sentences like
these, give this section a name (such as Selected Leadership Results),
and then pop it on front page for maximum exposure.
2 - Take out your long and winding summary paragraph.
There's no need to bore your reader with a lookalike resume summary or
profile that states the obvious, such as:
"Accomplished professional with proven operations leadership, technology
utilization, and marketing experience in the manufacturing industry. Skilled
in leading projects in fast-paced settings, with excellent team-building
and cross-functional communications skills."
The problem with a paragraph like this isn't the writing itself; it's
the fact that this description could apply to almost anyone!
What I recommend instead is a tight description that includes a description
of your executive achievements—cutting down the volume of words while
delivering a tightly branded message, as in these examples taken from
"VP Technology attaining 99% over-goal performance by exceeding SLA requirements
through strategic planning, cost containment, and contract negotiations."
"Asset management executive and former CFO skilled in negotiating transactions
with Fortune 100-1000 companies and improving profit potential through
targeted risk assessment."
3 - Learn to write a branding headline for yourself.
A trade secret among professional and executive resume writers, the headline
is actually a tagline that allows you condense more data into a tight
space. The best part? Your resume can use more than one headline to convey
your strongest points.
Here are some examples of headlines that encapsulate value and position
the applicant for a particular role:
"Senior pharmaceutical executive behind accelerated, multibillion-dollar
"Global growth for new-media marketing company achieving worldwide recognition"
"Investment expertise that promotes financial health through investment
& capital planning"
A branding headline can quickly give employers the "big picture" of your
achievements, without taking up precious space on your executive resume.
To create this statement, combine the position you seek with a major achievement
from your career, showing the results of your work or the approach that
you use. In fact, you can lift a success story directly from the body
of your leadership resume and summarize it in this manner—allowing you
to remove extraneous detail from elsewhere in your document.
As you continue to adjust your executive resume and tighten the language,
be sure to show it to colleagues and others familiar with your work.
You might find that, even with excess words removed, that your resume
still conveys your brand message—and faster to boot.
Executive resume writer Laura Smith-Proulx, CCMC, CPRW, CIC, TCCS is an award-winning Executive Resume Writer and former recruiter who has achieved a 98% success rate opening doors to prestigious jobs through personal branding techniques. The Executive Director of An Expert Resume, she partners exclusively with CIO, CTO, COO, CEO, CMO, CNO, SVP, VP, and Director-level candidates.
Published - November 2010
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