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by Lisa Marsh
Nov 9 2016
Executives can more effectively position themselves for new opportunities, and dramatically decrease time spent in-transition by ensuring that their three vital career documents are fully optimized and up-to-date. Executive resumes, LinkedIn profiles and cover letters form the cornerstone of any job search or career progression, so time should be invested in them to ensure your results are maximized.
How to Optimize Your Resume
1. Format: Ditch the archaic chronological format that forces the reader to work to discover what you have to offer. Instead, use a hybrid format, which combines the best elements of chorological and function-based formats to best showcase your skills and accomplishments.
2. Title: Include your professional title at the top of your resume to help the reader understand the position you are looking for at a glance. It takes a recruiter an average of six seconds to assess a resume, so making your intentions clear from the start helps you to help them!
3. Length: Make sure that your resume’s length is appropriate for the amount of experience that you have. Many executives create lengthy resumes that have too much detail or contain irrelevant information, or resumes that are too brief. It is important to include all your relevant information. It is important to remember, that regardless of your experience, if your resume exceeds four pages, it is unlikely to be read by anyone.
4. Keywords: Recruiters and potential employers will be looking for very specific skills and accomplishments in their potential new hire, so candidates should identify these keywords and integrate them with the document.
5. Personal Information: While there is a lot of personal information that is expected to be included in your executive resume, your age and what you look like are not to be included. Often resumes which contain photographs or ages are dismissed due to anti-discriminatory guidelines, so it is advisable to leave out this level of information.
How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
1. Photo: Your picture is often the first thing that recruiters and potential employers notice about your LinkedIn profile, so it is important to ensure that you make a lasting impression – for the right reasons. Your LinkedIn profile is not the same as your Facebook account, so choose a professional photo where you are wearing smart attire, and ensure it is reflective of how you would look at work on a daily basis. Also make sure that your face takes up about 60 percent of the frame, with a plain background and an appropriate expression.
2. Headline: When creating your personal brand on LinkedIn, your headline can be crucial in getting the attention of recruiters. Your default headline will always be set to your most recent job title, however this can be altered to reflect your aspirational job title and demonstrate your career goal to recruiters.
3. Summary: Before writing your summary, it’s important to understand your purpose and your ideal audience to ensure that you are meeting your personal branding aims. You should also include your most important accomplishments, your values and passions, your unique selling point, and reinforce your claims with a solid usage of facts and figures.
4. Work Experience: Link your employment entry with your company profile to provide further information to the ready. You should also start each section with a general overview, use keywords throughout, and keep it clear and concise.
5. Recommendations: A number of benefits can be gained from using LinkedIn’s Recommendation feature, both as a recipient and a giver. Not only is it a great excuse to connect (or reconnect) with old acquaintances and work colleagues, but it also gives further weight to the success stories mentioned throughout your page. Recruiters also sometimes use recommendations to search out new candidates, by clicking on links to people they might not have otherwise found.
How to Optimize Your Cover Letter
1. Customize: It is vital that you create a tailored cover letter for each new position or recruiter that you are targeting. Recruiters and potential employers hate received cover letters that are obviously generic, and can identify them instantly. You need to demonstrate that you are capable, prepared to put in the effort and serious about your application.
2. Research: It is also important to take your chosen company into consideration. Prior to writing your cover letter, due diligence should be conducted on your potential employer with a special focus on their values, company culture, new developments and key internal goals. This will highlight to the potential employer that you already understand their business and have a significant interest in what they do and how they operate.
3. Keep it relevant: As you will be attaching your resume in your email, in addition to your cover letter, you do not need to repeat the information that is included in your resume here. Simply specify your core strengths and why you would be of benefit specifically to that company and in that role. You should highlight your skills that you are able to bring to the role, the value you can add to the company and provide a few specific achievements to back it up.
4. Keep it short: Your cover letter is unlikely to be read of it exceeds half a page. Ideally an executive should aim for around three paragraphs of text which will complement their resume and application without being lengthy and time consuming for the recruiter or potential employer to read.
5. Employment Gaps: Cover letters can provide a unique opportunity to explain employment gaps that might otherwise be questioned if you resume was read alone. Make sure you optimize this opportunity to alleviate any possible concerns.
If you are interested in perfecting your three vital career documents, there has never been a better time to do so. As a BlueSteps member, you have the unique opportunity to work with our renowned team of certified executive career advisors to develop and improve these tools for your career progression. Login and submit your request here to find out more.