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Executive Resumes, CVs & Career Documents

Read these BlueSteps Executive Search blog articles for the latest tips that will help improve your executive resume and your brand. For additional tips, register for the webinar: How to Optimize Your Executive Resume.

Although writing a resume is a very personal experience, it pays to follow some basic guidelines in order to increase the likelihood of potential employers taking your application to the next step. The following ten points are collected from top expert sources and should assist in making your resume clear, interesting and impactful.

Executive career coaches and resume writers from BlueSteps Executive Career Services (BECS) were some of the 150 career practitioners who attended the Career Thought Leaders Conference March 10–14 in Baltimore, Maryland to learn foremost strategies for helping professionals and job seekers take control of their career.
With unemployment rates still stubbornly high and rapid changes in how companies source candidates, it is essential for both experienced and new career professionals to be fully equipped to help job seekers manage a full-throttle job search efficiently and effectively.
I don’t know what it is about resumes. People seem to get so caught up in what they think a resume “should” be that they overlook what a resume can be…an entree to a new role, a new career, a new life. Some people seem to treat their resumes like they are their tax returns…break a rule and get penalized; enter information in a different place and suffer the consequences…it really doesn’t need to be so formulaic…and it shouldn’t be. A good resume is a representation of your strengths, your passion, your dreams…all wrapped up into a compelling message of value. Here are ten mistakes I see people make when writing resumes and some tips for how to avoid these pitfalls.
If you’re applying, or planning to apply, to executive jobs overseas, you may have asked yourself these questions:
  • Is it a résumé or a CV (curriculum vitae)?
  • What size should the document be, letter or A4?
  • Do I really need to share my marital status?
  • What about spelling? Is American English okay or do I need to use British, Australian, or Canadian English?
  • Do I need to have my résumé translated into the local language?
  • Do I mention my immigration status?

As a senior-level executive, you most likely have a LinkedIn profile, a BlueSteps membership, and a membership to your industry's association. Maybe you've published books, have your own website, often have public speaking engagements, and your name may often appear in your local, or even national, media. With all of those credentials, you may start to think that your resume is no longer so important. Maybe you've even read somewhere about some impending death of the resume. Well, it doesn't matter how accomplished you are, the resume is not dead. And you need one--a smart one.

The majority of candidates, executive though staff, write resumes and apply to jobs in roughly the same way…writing a cover letter to focus a static resume.

I’ve written in previous articles to “Stop Writing Cover Letters, and You’ll Get More Interviews”, and described why cover letters are an obsolete tradition in today’s job search. In the 15 seconds the average hiring manager spends making an interview/no interview decision…most hiring managers make their decision based on a resume – not a cover letter. In a recent Linkedin poll, over 80% of hiring managers stated that they read resumes first.

Yet, the majority of candidates mistakenly use a cover letter to demonstrate why they are perfect for a position.

Building a strong personal brand is a process which helps others recognize your key skills and appreciate your worth. Providing you follow the fundamentals of personal branding, your chances for a promotion or to be considered for a new executive job will be greatly improved. Read on to learn these fundamentals and begin communicating your true value to those who count:
Fundamentals of Branding
Self-knowledge is the key to personal branding, creating marketing documents such as CVs/Resumes, and excelling during networking and executive job interviews. One key way strengthen your brand and increase your self-knowledge (and self-worth) is to look back at all your previous employers and create ‘an inventory of the initiatives you have undertaken that have paid off’ (Driving the Career Highway, 2007). 

Look beyond the traditional key points you extracted from your CV/resume. As professionals we have learned to economise our experiences to fit on one or two pages, yet as we move forward, the many other positive initiatives and achievements surrounding these key points become distant, unrecalled memories.

Dig deep

Phil Rosenberg makes a great point in a recent Ivy Exec blog post regarding the content of executive CVs / Resumes. He states that despite managers widely recognizing they are attracted to results-driven documents, demonstrating a proven track record of solving problems and seizing opportunities, they fail to implement the same style in their own documents.

1. Education – While most business and popular publications are likely to be translated into English, journals and books covering specific areas of knowledge are unlikely to withstand the costs of professional translation. Being able to gain knowledge from a larger pool of experts will benefit you hugely – and reading in a new language is often considered the easiest step. In addition, with the current focus of blogging and social media, you will have the opportunity to learn from a wider circle of peers, seeking and discussing information across continents.