Ten Quick Resume Tweaks That Will Improve Your Executive Job Search
Ten Quick Resume Tweaks That Will Improve Your Executive Job Search

When I’m working with my six- and seven-figure executive clients, I often notice certain resume hiccups that detract from their main message of value when communicating with hiring authorities. By making some easy and subtle yet powerful changes, executive search candidates can frequently accelerate their interactions with decision makers and expedite their searches.

Here are my top 10 suggestions.

  1. Fix that email address. Nothing will date you faster than an email address that is associated with a company that peaked before the 21st century. Rather than using your prehistoric AOL or Yahoo address, create a Gmail account for your job search activities. Consider it part of the normal technology evolution process. You parted with your rotary phone, fax machine and Blackberry. You can let go of this, too.

  2. List your cell phone rather than your home phone. This is another dinosaur. Even if you still have a home phone, isn’t your cell phone the best way to reach you? You want to be available to recruiters and hiring managers quickly; it makes sense to give them the fastest way to contact you.

  3. Eliminate subjective words and descriptions of personal attributes from your resume summary. These words do little to position your value to an employer. Nix words like “seasoned” or “veteran” (translation: old), “high energy” (translation: you sound insecure) and “accomplished” (you’d better be; you’re a senior executive). Replace these with a synopsis of career highlights where you helped the companies you supported make money, save money, save time, grow the business or keep the business. Showcase tangible skills (e.g., turned around three companies, led 12 acquisitions, took $6 million of expenses out of the business, etc.) to validate your worth to an employer.

  4. Step out of the 90s and update your resume format. Perhaps the last time you updated your resume, there were few design options. But Microsoft Word has come a long way. Use charts, graphics and color to convey your impact, just like you do in your executive role when you create reports to influence senior management, the board, investors, customers, etc. Decision makers respond well to these visual cues, too.

  5. Get rid of scholarships and honors you earned as an undergraduate. You’ve been running a multimillion-dollar P&L and achieving incremental growth for your company for years. Is that President’s Scholarship or summa cum laude distinction from 1988 really still relevant?

  6. Stop getting caught up in semantics. Sometimes my executive clients feel uncomfortable taking credit for accomplishments that they directed but didn’t carry out on their own. As a result, they fail to list some of their most outstanding accomplishments. Hiring managers understand that, in many cases, you had a team behind you to execute on a strategy, but if you feel clarification is necessary, try using language that shows your instrumental role in an initiative, such as, “Created the business transformation strategy that the team executed to reduce costs by $3 million,” or, “Hired the C-level talent necessary to optimize the sales process and realize $5 million in new business in less than nine months.”

  7. De-bloat your resume. No one is interested in that third page. Three pages don’t translate into “accomplished.” Instead, they signal, “can’t articulate what’s most important,” “can’t let the past go,” “insecure that recent accomplishments won’t measure up”, or “too old (or expensive) to have a place here.” Dedicate most of your precious resume real estate to showcasing your last 10-15 years of employment; truncate earlier experiences to one or two accomplishments or simply a list of the early companies/positions to show career progression.

  8. Get your LinkedIn on. Perhaps you were too busy in your last role to jump on the LinkedIn bandwagon, or maybe you thought having a presence there wasn’t necessary. If you are in a job search, having a LinkedIn profile is imperative. Don’t create a profile that merely lists the companies you worked for and your job titles. Make it rich with specific information about your key accomplishments, build out the skills section to make it easier for recruiters and hiring managers to find you, and link to media mentions or examples of your success where appropriate. Additionally, be sure to engage there. Monitor your feed, make new connections, join groups and comment or share other people’s content to deepen relationships and build rapport with important influencers within your professional community.

  9. Make sure the picture is recent. I’ve looked at people’s LinkedIn pictures before a formal meeting with them and then barely recognized the person who showed up for the meeting. Don’t make that mistake. Using a picture that is more than 10 years old or no longer looks like you is deceptive and can potentially damage the relationship you are trying to create before it has even started. A little bit of makeup (and yes, even a touch of Photoshop) are fine, but a picture of you taken before the Clinton administration is probably not.

  10. Update your software. If you created your resume on an older version of Microsoft Word (anything before 2003), you risk the chance of sending your document to a decision maker and having it show up on their screen with compromised formatting. Get an updated version of Microsoft Word and then convert your final resume to a PDF to ensure formatting displays consistently from computer to computer.

Spend some time in the coming weeks making these subtle tweaks to your messaging, and watch the interest in your candidacy improve.