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by Lisa Marsh
Feb 5 2016
For many executives, their resume/CV is something that has long since been forgotten, if they have one at all. But if you suddenly find yourself in need of what is considered your most important career document, rather than simply adding your latest positions or accomplishments to the bottom of an old, outdated resume, it might be worth checking these four vital signs to make sure that it’s fit for purpose.
1. Check-up on the format.
Problem: When writing a resume, one of the first decisions to make regards the format of the document and how to order your skills and experience on the page. In the past, executives often opted for what is known as a chronological resume which lists these key achievements in the order that they were achieved. However, this time of resume can have a negative impact on the reader as it requires them to work hard to figure out what you have to offer in different areas.
Cure: The cure to this problem would be the implementation of a hybrid resume format, whereby the resume is ordered both chronologically and functionally, with accomplishments grouped together to provide context while maintaining the candidates career story.
Problem: Another resume malady involves the length of the executive resume. Executives often have years and years of professional experience behind them, so this can this be difficult to condense into one or two pages.
Cure: Although it is advised that resumes are kept to the confines of a single page, if you do have more than a page of relevant experience, it can be appropriate to cover two pages instead.
2. Give your personal brand a face-lift.
Problem: The title at the top of the resume can often be neglected when assessing this self-marketing career document, yet it can be vitally important in creating a first impression for a recruiter or potential employers. Some executives fail to give themselves a title at the top of their resume which can make it impossible for the reader to understand the position that the candidate is seeking, at a glance. Others include titles that are niche to their own company and can lead to a lot of ambiguity as to what their role involves.
Cure: It is import to ensure that you have a compelling, understandable and descriptive title at the top of your resume. If you have a role within your current employer that is unique to the company you work for, it might be necessary to select a more comprehensible role for your resume/CV to ensure that you don’t miss out on opportunities because of this technicality.
3. Monitor your word choice.
Problem: The importance of strong, powerful verbs cannot be overstated in the context of an executive resume. Many executives use weak and uninspiring verbs in their resumes, or alternatively, think of a great word, for example develop, but then overuse it in the document, rendering it ineffective.
Cure: Create a list of impactful professional words that would work within the context of your resume, such as transform, forge and enrich, and then work them into your resume to establish a variety of alternative success statements that will give your resume a new lease of life.
4. Enhance your design features.
Problem: One of the worst mistakes, but easiest fixes, involves the font that is selected for your resume. Unprofessional fonts, on inconsistent font use within a resume can have disastrous effects and can damage your career trajectory. Equally, another aesthetic element that can injure your resume is the use of graphics and photos within the document. Recruiters and potential employers must make snap decisions based on your resume, so these features can cause an unnecessary distraction. There are also legal issues surrounding the use of photos on resumes due to discrimination laws which may result in your application being rejected solely on that issue. Moreover, many recruiters and hiring parties now use computer programs to scan resumes prior to human consideration, so graphics and photos can lead to your resume being eliminated from the process if not compatible with the software used.
Cure: Avoid photos and keep your resume free from graphics altogether. The overall aim with design should be to make your resume as reader-friendly as possible, so making these changes will significantly improve the reader experience.
If you are considering a resume revamp and would like professional advice, BlueSteps has a team of best–in class executive career advisors waiting to assist. BlueSteps members: simply click here to find out more. If you’re not a BlueSteps member yet, click here to join today.