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Mar 20 2014
A sales/business development executive may be equally qualified for an executive role in Business Development or Product Management. Or an operations executive may want to target a General Manager role, while keeping the door open for a more specialized role in Supply Chain Management. An IT executive with an operations background may want to be considered for either a CIO or COO job.
In working with executive clients, I frequently hear that they want to keep their options open; however, when an executive search consultant or hiring manager looks at a resume, if they don't see a clear focus that matches with the type of position they are looking to fill, they may be confused and unwilling to consider the candidate. So how do you optimize your resume to capitalize on multiple opportunities, while still communicating a clear brand and positioning statement?
The two elements needed to achieve this are a clear brand and a specific headline or positioning statement.
How to create a clear headline and positioning statement to lead off your executive summary:
The summary at the top of the first page is the most important part of your executive resume. It should start with a headline that provides a concise statement of who you are, what level, what function, and perhaps your specialization or industry. Executive Search Consultants are extremely busy and typically review hundreds of resumes at a given time, so it is imperative that when they scan your resume, often in 3 minutes or less, that they see instantly who you are and where they would "place" you. As such, your headline should be bold, all caps, and centered at the top of the page.
Let's take the example of an IT executive who is considering moving into a COO Job, but doesn't want to be excluded from the right opportunity as a CIO. Here's how their headline might look to capture both options:
C-LEVEL BUSINESS EXECUTIVE: COO, CIO, Business Unit Leader
Global IT / Supply Chain Operations / Organizational Transformation / Business Process Improvement
Another common situation is where a candidate is interested in moving from a more specialized role into a general management role, such as an executive director job. Here's an example of how the executive might create a positioning statement that would keep his or her options open for either role:
SENIOR BUSINESS EXECUTIVE: GM, VP, Executive Director, Country Manager, Business Unit LeaderThe executive search consultant or hiring manager reading this would know immediately that the candidate was at the executive level and see that depending on the position, they may be qualified for any of these titles. As titles can vary, this is an effective way to communicate various options while maintaining flexibility depending on factors that impact the title such as size of the company, scope of the position, whether it is US-based or international, etc.
How to develop a branding statement for your resume that addresses a need relevant to the type of position or industry you are targeting:
Your brand is the value proposition you bring; a branding statement should consist of two elements:
1) Your talent or strength, i.e., the consistent theme throughout your career that has enabled you to be successful.
2) The value you bring which is the benefits you have delivered. An employer looking at your resume wants to see results, or "what can you do for me?" So just stating your talents, strengths, competencies, etc. does not go far enough. You need to connect your strengths to the potential benefits you will deliver if you are hired.
An example of an effective brand statement could be something like this. Using our IT/Operations Executive as an example:
Business transformation catalyst, driving cutting edge technology solutions in business process, manufacturing, and IT roles to deliver IT and operational efficiencies that generated multimillion dollar cost savings and profit growth.
This branding statement consists of the brand attributes or strengths, i.e., "transformation catalyst" with experience in business process, manufacturing, and IT roles. It also states how those core competencies and talents have delivered results, i.e., "cutting-edge technology solutions" that delivered operational efficiencies resulting in multimillion dollar savings and profit growth.
It can be a daunting task to come up with your brand, given that you undoubtetly have impressive strengths and a track record of impressive results over your successful executive career. A helpful strategy to discern what would be an optimum branding statement that resonates with an executive recruiter or potential hiring manager is to consider the needs of the industry or type of position you will most likely end up in.
Just as a successful sales person focuses on communicating the benefits of a product/service they are selling by matching it up with the buyer's need, the same is true when you are "selling yourself" for a new career opportunity. Given what you know about the industry and their "bleeding needs," consider how you can uniquely contribute based on your talents and prior successes. Use this to determine what to focus on in crafting your branding statement.
Once you have developed your branding statement, you can use it for all facets of your executive job search, not just the resume. It should be included in all of your marketing communications such as the resume, LinkedIn Profile, cover letter and executive bio, as well as your elevator pitch, your referral interview pitch, and your responses to formal interview questions.
A well-positioned and branded executive job search campaign will take you where you want to go more quickly and ultimately land you in a role that is not only a good fit, but a leadership opportunity to fully utilize your strengths and personal brand to deliver results, while successfully positioning you for continued growth within the organization.