Over the past several weeks, I’ve reviewed hundreds of executive resumes and I’ve seen the same resume mistakes over and over again. Executive resumes must be personally branded, persuasive, and impactful. They must also be laser-focused on what you have accomplished—and not just what you do. Here are the top ten resume mistakes I see on most executive resumes:
Focusing on “Do”
I get it; it’s hard to write about yourself—and even harder to keep yourself from writing about what you “do”. As an executive, the CEO, CFO, CIO or board reviewing your resume isn’t concerned about what you “do”; they want to see what you have accomplished. And you need to give it to them in $$$ and %%%.
Speaking in Generalizations
Too often I see executives with career summaries that could be written about any job seeker in the market. They contain broad-based statements that provide such an aerial view of their career history that the decision maker can’t tell exactly what they accomplished. Don’t be afraid to be specific within your career summary. Just because it’s a summary doesn’t mean it can’t name awards, dollar figures, major accounts, etc.
Listing Your Whole Life Story
I know you are supposed to show potential employers everything you are capable of, but that doesn’t mean you need to provide them with a complete autobiography. They don’t need to know that you were a member of the math club in college—or that you had a summer job at the local deli. Instead, focus on what you have to offer now and what you have accomplished at your recent jobs.
You probably have heard the same old story that a short resume will not impress, and that may be why you try to beef things up with fillers and long-winded explanations. But on executive-level resumes, that’s a big mistake. Create a document that focuses on what you can offer the company.
Not Establishing Your Personal Brand
You aren’t just a person trying to get an executive-level job. You have a personal brand. You have a great deal to offer, and everything you have accomplished is wrapped up in that brand. You need to establish your personal brand throughout your resume from beginning to end.
Describing Your Personality
Generally, the C-level executives and board members who may interview you don’t particularly care whether your friends consider you a good listener. Unless a personality trait or characteristic has something to do with your ability to accomplish something at a new job, it doesn’t belong on the resume.
Using the Functional Format
Remember when I mentioned the importance of laser accuracy? You simply cannot use a functional format for an executive-level resume. It’s too basic, and it doesn’t allow you to include the details decision makers will want to know. Format your resume so that your accomplishments are highlighted.
Telling and Not Showing
The board members or executives considering you for the position don’t want you to tell them that you accomplished a lot at your last job; they want you to show them how you did it. And that means including very detailed examples that explain in dollars—not just words.
Forgetting the Basics
Obviously, since you are at a C-level position, you have already written your resume a few times in the past, and the more comfortable you become with documenting the information, the more likely you are to forget basics such as good grammar. Ignore your initial temptation to just use the spell checker. Again, be laser-focused, and check everything—including the most minute detail—before submitting your document.
Not Establishing Yourself Right Away
Any executive-level resume should include a professional headline. This states in a few succinct words exactly who you are—and it takes the first step toward establishing your personal brand. It’s a way of introduction on paper—and it is an absolute must for your resume.
I have seen these mistakes too many times; but by learning from what others have done wrong, you can avoid the problems yourself.