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Staying Current: 6 Tips for a Stand-Out Executive Résumé

As you may have already discovered, there is no one particular way to write a quality résumé.  We all do our best to compose and design our résumés in accordance with the preferences and insights of prospective employers, recruiters, as well as the vast array information we gather along the way. However, as times change, so do the specifics of résumé writing. When seeking a top level executive position, it is vital to create a résumé that is both modern and in accordance with job market tendencies.


Consequently, we have compiled a current list of specifics for executives (and all job seekers) to keep in mind while preparing their résumés.

1.  Maximize your summary.  The first portion of your résumé is a perfect opportunity to really catch the eye of your prospective employer.  Rather than the typical copy/pasted characteristic descriptions, Lisa Rangel, job search consultant and accomplished executive résumé and LinkedIn Profile writer, suggests, “Use this space wisely to include what position you are targeting and a few pointed achievements that support why a hiring manager should call you for an interview for that targeting position”. However, in 2017, executive résumés maintain a smart balance between long-winded summaries and no summary at all.  Lead with your strongest, most applicable accomplishments to keep hiring managers engaged while reading.

2.  Always customize.  While it may seem more time-consuming, executives (and all job seekers) must remember to customize each and every résumé to the specific position for which they are applying.  While certain basics will remain consistent, it’s important to view your résumé from an employer’s point of view.  According to Adrienne Tom, employment strategist and multi-certified executive résumé writer, “Tailoring content will ensure that relevant details, keywords, key phrases, and clear value-add are included to meet the needs of each unique reader”.

3.  Know your ATS.  If you’re not currently familiar with ATS, or Applicant Tracking Systems, now is the time to learn.  There are few major companies who are not in use of ATS during their recruitment processes; and understanding how the system works will help ensure that your résumé is viewed by as many eyes as possible.  In short, ATS software is patterned to scan résumés in order to isolate the best match for a position.  Tom states, “Every ATS is unique, so understanding common ATS résumé practices is critical to getting your résumé through the system”.

4.  Consider your audience.  An executive presenting a résumé to a recruiter will need to make some adjustments from the ones previously and exclusively sent to hiring managers. The key to formulating a résumé with a recruiter in mind is motivation. Executive job seekers must find a way to inspire recruiters to want to send their résumés to their best clients.  Rangel reiterates, “Factor this perspective in when sending your résumé to a corporate recruiter or through an employee referral.  Ask yourself, ‘What is their motivation to take the next step with your résumé?’ and address that point”.

5.  Combine design with content when networking.   The majority of job seekers, whether executive level or not, know that removing excess formatting, potentially awkward spacing, and obscure fonts will ensure that information is properly translated when sent electronically to hiring managers.  However, it’s vital that executive job seekers do not lose sight of the fact that their résumé is also an important networking tool.  A PDF or hard copy of an attractively designed résumé is widely suggested for your job search arsenal.  As Tom recaps, “It is recommended you have both a ‘human-eye’ friendly résumé and computer-friendly résumé… different formats for different situations”.

6.  Remain concise.  Once your résumé is written, don’t forget the importance of the editing process, especially when it comes to excessive wording or repetitive facts.  According to Rangel, trimming the loose ends of your résumé’s text will increase the amount of white space, “and make the reader’s eye flow over your résumé with ease leading to an interview call”.  Additionally, be sure to create an even more reader-friendly experience for your prospective employer through the use of bullets and isolated information blocks.  These tactics create “flow”, making it easier for human eyes to scan the most important information in your résumé.

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Adhering to these basic guidelines will ensure a marked improvement in not only how often, but how well, your resume is received by hiring managers, recruiters, and even possible referrals.  In summary, keeping the perspective of the reader as your first priority will secure your competitive edge.


Fred Coon, CEO

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