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by Lisa Marsh
Feb 17 2016
If you want to stand out in today’s competitive job market, sometimes a good resume is not good enough. So, what makes a perfect resume? If you are not attracting the opportunities that you deserve, it might be time to change the bait and reassess the components of what is considered your most important career document. Below are our top recommendations for what makes a perfect executive resume. How does yours shape up?
It gets an A+ for spelling and grammar.
When perusing through your resume, if a potential employer or search consultant finds spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes, including typos, your application will immediately be dismissed and relegated to the confines of the trash can. While this may sound harsh, particularly for a single typographical error, the mistakes can seriously damage your reputation and lead the reader to assume that if your resume has careless mistakes, your work will likely follow suit.
It tells the FULL story.
There are many reasons why you might have a gap, or several gaps, on your resume. Maybe you went back to school to do a master’s degree; perhaps you went traveling; or took a year out to do volunteer work for a worthy cause. Taking time out of your career of your career is a common occurrence among professionals, but if you have done this, it is important that this time is positioned correctly on your resume. Having multiple, large gaps on your work history with no explanation can be a red flag to a search consultant, but there is an easy solution. Simply include your additional degree under “Education” or add a “Volunteer Work” section to your resume. Make sure your resume tells the full story, instead of making the reader assume the worst.
It keeps the format simple but effective.
It is a widely known fact that a search consultant has limited time to look over the volume of resumes they receive, so it is important to make sure that the information in your resume is easy to find. This means executives should avoid fancy layouts and stick to traditional fonts and font sizes. No matter how much experience you might have, the average resume in most cases should not exceed two pages. White space should be used effectively to draw the reader’s eye to important points.
When creating your resume, make sure it is prepared in a simple word format that is compatible with most computers, ensuring that tables, templates, charts headers and footers are not used, as these features often get scrambled.
It maintains clear and consistent personal branding.
In today’s digital age, resumes are often transmitted and read via computers, so providing a link to your professional online profile can be a great way of providing search consultants and potential employers with additional information that is different to that which can be found on your resume. Even if you do not include a link to your professional online profile, executive search professionals will look you up regardless if you are being considered as a candidate. Including a link can save search consultants time and also avoid mistaken identity.
It is also advisable to maintain a consistent name/brand across all mediums: LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Facebook or any other social networks you use for professional networking. If you use a middle initial, or shorted version of your name in your resume, make sure that you use the same name in your other profiles.
It has measurable achievements.
It is important to make sure you include a selection of measurable achievements; and that they are presented in a readable fashion. If listed in a block of dense text, the reader will be deterred. Instead, it is better to list your achievements in two to five bullet points per position, with greater emphasis on your most recent achievements. Using metrics can be a great way to grab the search consultant’s attention and create a good impression. Remember, references relating to your achievements should not be listed or offered. This can be done at a later stage of the application process.
It is keyword optimized.
To maximize the impact of your application for an executive role, it is vital that you review and rework your resume for each new opportunity. This includes incorporating any relevant keywords or industry specific buzzwords into the document (without overdoing it).
Keywords play a significant role in applicant tracking systems (ATS), and can get your application past the first elimination stage to be viewed by human eyes. But regardless of whether your potential employer uses an ATS, keywords can help highlight your skills and experience.
It provides helpful company descriptions.
When writing your resume, it is wise to provide the reader with as much useful information as you can. Being the director of a large, international organization is very different to being the director of a small to mid-size company. Therefore, it is helpful to make it explicitly clear on your resume. Adding this information to your resume can be as simple as rewriting a line from your company’s “About Us” section on their webpage. Providing a company description can also be advantageous as it allows you to let the recruiter know what industries you have worked in too.
It uses an executive summary instead of an objective statement.
Many lackluster executive resumes start with a generic objective about being “an executive looking for new opportunities to leverage my skills,” which does not add anything of value to your resume and takes up valuable real estate on the page. Instead of this, executives are advised to start with an executive summary, more similar to an elevator pitch, which explains who you are and what you are looking for in a concise manner. It should also highlight what you are most interested in and how you would provide value and ROI to a potential employer.
It does not use pronouns.
Resumes should never be written in third person, even if your resume is written by someone else, but equally, your resume should also avoid using pronouns. The use of “I” and other pronouns not only looks out of place, but also takes up space that could be used more effectively on the page.
Get even more advice on how to improve your resume during our complimentary webinar: 7 Ways to Boost Your Executive Resume.