by Jacob Meade
May 12 2015
When writing their own resume, executives the world over tend to focus on standard job duties rather than results. This approach inevitably falls flat. It causes a resume to read like a dull, copy and paste job description rather than an engaging account of a person’s unique work record.
Every professional action has a result. At the executive level, that result is usually more interesting than the action itself. You’ve no doubt engaged in activities that changed and benefited your employers in profound ways. Describe those benefits on your resume, and you’ll have a much stronger job search document.
Don’t just relay your daily efforts, because that’s not the full story. For example, if you’re a VP of sales, you might just put:
Developed various revenue growth strategies.
But this is like if Michael Phelps said he swam a lot in August 2008, and left out the fact that he won eight gold medals at the Beijing Summer Olympics. It’s technically correct, but it misses the whole point. It’s not what the audience really cares about.
Consider: what was the result of the strategies you developed? Did they raise your team’s sales performance? Penetrate new markets? Set company records?
Job seekers often shy away from this approach because they feel like they’re embellishing, or they just don’t think there’s a result to speak of. What they don’t realize is that when you couple a task with its result, you actually make the point more accurate by broadening its scope. Even the most menial activities can be made compelling by this principle. Take this seemingly modest task:
You likely think there’s nothing else to be said about this duty, long regarded as the single least glamorous task of entry-level workers. But consider, for a moment, the importance of coffee. Recall the wonderful reviving effect it may have had on your sleepier work mornings. In fact, millions of professionals likely wouldn’t perform at quite the same level if they were suddenly deprived of their morning cup of joe. With this in mind, you may correctly expand the point to say:
Boosted employees’ early-morning alertness and productivity by making coffee.
See? Even a basic admin function ripples through the rest of a company, influencing the workforce and helping to prop up the enterprise.
Remember this example whenever you work on your executive resume. Look at each duty you’ve listed, and ask yourself: How did this benefit the organization? How did it make things better, faster, more stable, or more profitable? The answers to these questions will generate your best resume content and help get you the traction you deserve in your job search.
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The Ultimate Executive Career Guide: Advanced Job Search
As a senior-level executive, you can use this guide to: