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Quick Tips for Tight Executive Resume Writing

“Omit needless words,” wrote William Strunk Jr. in 1918’s timeless writing guide The Elements of Style. “A sentence should contain no unnecessary words…for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”

That’s good advice, and a key element in making an effective executive resume for your job search. Resume language should be tight and concise because:

  • The executive job search demands it. At any organization, senior leaders are expected to lift clarity and relevance out of an ocean of data and information. A long, dense resume will undermine this impression because if you can’t seem to do it with something as familiar as your own experience, how will you do it with a company’s unique set of problems?
  • As much as any other written document, the resume must catch the reader’s attention fast. Any one job posting can receive hundreds of applications, and an executive recruiter will often spend just a few seconds looking at a resume before deciding whether to toss it. You should therefore use a writing style that markets your unique qualifications as clearly as possible.
  • Pithy is in. We live in an age of diminished attention spans. Every day is met by a glut of messages, documents, and media all vying for our attention. As a result, terse language draws the strongest audience. If you aren’t getting to the point fast, you’ll be passed over by your target readers.

Take a hard look at every sentence (every word even) on your resume. Do you see any that can be abbreviated? In nearly all cases, if you make it shorter without losing the core meaning, you’ll make it better. Consider this sentence:
Captured an annualized expense reduction of approximately $3 million dollars by conceiving, developing, and implementing various relevant new Six Sigma methodologies.

Yikes. It’s way too bogged down by elaborate wording. Trim it to:
Cut yearly costs $3M by incorporating Six Sigma principles.

See how much better that reads?

Here are a couple more examples of bloated sentences and their shorter, better equivalents:
Increased sales revenue by $700,000 annually by generating and implementing strategies to renew the team’s strategic focus on those accounts yielding the most sales volume.

Grew annual sales $700K by refocusing team on company’s most lucrative accounts.

Strengthened our retention rate among newly hired employees by assessing, modifying, and realigning the organization’s talent acquisition strategy to more fully represent the culture and values inherent to the broader company.

Improved new hire retention by better aligning recruitment strategy with corporate values.

So when working on your resume, remember:

  • Use brief, clear sentences.
  • Avoid long words and flowery language. 
  • Don’t let paragraphs run longer than a few lines of text.

Your resume will be drastically improved, and your executive job search will be that much better off for it. Keep. It. Short!

 

BlueSteps members have access to BlueSteps Executive Career Services, which provides them with expert writers and experienced LinkedIn Strategists who are ready to partner with you for your career advancement.

BlueSteps Members: Submit your resume to get started with a complimentary consultation.

The Ultimate Executive Career Guide: Resumes/CVs, LinkedIn Profiles, and More

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- Learn how to write a resume/CV
- Discover the elements of a successful LinkedIn profile
- Create your executive biography
- Produce an effective cover letter/e-note
- And more!

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About the author

Jacob Meade is a career advisor for our BlueSteps Executive Career Services team. He is a dual-certified resume writer; he has created hundreds of powerful job search documents. Clients report getting immediate results and traction in their job search after implementing their new resumes. He has a talent for honing in on those professional experiences that are most relevant to a person’s current goals, resulting in highly focused, persuasive resume content. He leverages a firm grasp of the Human Resources field to develop job search materials that are fully optimized for recruiter and hiring manager audiences.

Learn more about the BlueSteps team of career advisors and the services they provide to help you improve your career trajectory here.

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Comments

Totally agreed. One may get momentary satisfaction using long sentences with heavy words but at the end it is counter productive: the reader does not grasp the content within the span of attention.

Also, totally agreed. The culprit is often adjectives, which trigger your motive. When the reader draws their own conclusions, the effect is more compelling. An individual accomplishment has more merit, the resume has more credibility and your first impression is set. To quote Henry Kaiser - "When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt."

100% agreed. Previously, it was Personnel management, then came Human resource and now it is Human capital management, so yeah, verbose style of writing should change to tight wordings.

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