Your Executive Resume: How to Include 25 Years of Work Experience

Your Executive Resume: How to Include 25 Years of Work Experience

Do you ever watch those “Year in Review” segments on television and marvel at how broadcasters manage to convert the essence of a year into a three-minute story?  Identifying essential content is a crucial skill for journalists because a lot happens in just one year and the duration of their segments must be adhered to—or they lose their audience.

Imagine trying an approach like that with your career and your executive resume: a “Career in Review,” if you will?

It’s not easy.

Many of my clients approach me because they are leaders in their industry, have been with their company for more than ten years, and are struggling to separate the “must include” information from the “nice to include” information in their executive resume. They have achieved great success but need to identify their career milestones and determine a compelling narrative for their executive resume.

When I begin working with my clients, I ask them to take a step back and think about their tangible achievements, such as:

  • The teams they have assembled
  • The sizes of the businesses they have led
  • The brands or products they have developed or launched
  • The complex business problems they have solved
  • The business changes they have steered
  • The technology they have implemented
  • The new strategies they have employed
  • The markets they have penetrated or channels they have expanded

This approach arms me with some of the essential building blocks I need to begin to craft an effective—and concise—executive resume.

If you are looking for a partner to help make you as marketable as possible, contact me today to learn more about how we can work together.

Executive Resume Writing is All About Communicating Your Difference

Executive Resume Writing is All About Communicating Your Difference

There are no hard and fast rules to executive resume writing. Each executive career story is different. Each leader is different. Each set of accomplishments is different. Conveying your difference is the ultimate objective of executive resume writing — and marketing yourself. Many executives have worked for the same company for years or have been fortunate enough to move seamlessly from one role to the next without ever having to truly market themselves — on paper or in person. People have actively sought them out and only required a basic career history document outlining companies, job titles, dates, key responsibilities and education. Executives often have never had to take stock of their careers in a meaningful way and convey who they are as a leader, where they have made their mark and what they can offer a new company. If you are at a stage where you need to actively look for new employment and promote yourself, these are important consideration and communication points.

When I work with executives to craft their individual career narratives, the focus of our discussion is on uncovering their unique value — or unique leadership DNA. Here are some of the questions that we use as a starting point to prompt thinking in this direction:

  • What are you most known for? What do other people think of when they think of you?
  • What potential problems can you help a company solve?
  • What aspects of your experience, knowledge and/or skill set make you different than every other leader who does what you do?
  • In what areas do you have deep expertise? Where can you add real, measurable business value?
  • What do you consider to be your greatest career successes?
  • What specific challenges have you been up against and what results did you deliver?
  • From a business and organizational perspective, where have you had the most significant impact?

If you are looking for a partner to help communicate your difference, contact me today to learn more about how we can work together.

Executive Interviews: The All-Important Fit Conversation

Executive Interviews: The All-Important Fit Conversation

Executive interviews are not only about determining if you can do the job — and do it well — but also if you’ll fit in with the people and the environment. Hiring decision makers want to know you’ll be able to operate effectively up, down and across the organization and be able to get your job done through your teams and together with your colleagues. “Poor culture fit” is often one of the reasons why executives don’t succeed in positions (usually observed and addressed quickly), and make their exits — either voluntarily or involuntarily. We see this play out time and time again in the business world. In a 2015 Fortune interview, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, reflects on his hiring — and swift firing — of European retail executive John Browett. “That was a reminder to me of the critical importance of cultural fit,” Cook said about his executive hiring misstep and Browett’s poor fit with Apple’s culture.

Assessing fit in executive interviews is often a challenge for both companies and candidates alike, as it is often difficult to determine if there is full alignment on all value points. I was networking recently with the Head of Talent Acquisition at a NYC-based PR firm and asked her to describe the company’s culture, to which she responded, “scrappy, lean, open-office environment, shared business line P&Ls, very collaborative, casual and non-corporate.” These words conjure up different feelings for people and do not have the same appeal for all individuals. Therefore, during the executive interview, it’s just as important for the candidate to get a true sense of what it would be like working at the company as it is for the company to understand what it would be like working with the individual.

Here are some questions that will help in preparing for the “fit conversation” in executive interviews:

Questions to anticipate:

  • How do others describe your leadership style?
  • What do you value most as a leader?
  • What type of culture do you foster among your team as well as the broader organization?
  • How would you describe your decision making/conflict management/communication style?
  • What factors are most important to you in considering your next role?
  • What factors are most appealing to you about this opportunity?
  • What career successes are you most proud of and why?
  • What was your biggest career mistake and what did you learn from it?
  • What motivates you?

Questions to ask:

  • How would you describe the culture here?
  • What does the organization value?
  • What’s kept you working here?
  • What do you view as the organization’s/team’s greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • What makes leaders successful here?
  • What has caused leaders to fail?
  • How does the organization keep teams engaged and motivated to perform?

If you are looking for a partner to help prepare for your next round of executive interviews, contact me today to learn more about how we can work together.


Executive Resumes That Hit the Mark

Executive Resumes That Hit the Mark

In today’s competitive talent marketplace, it is crucial for executives to clearly differentiate themselves from other experienced candidates vying for the same roles. A CIO is a CIO is a CIO. It’s not about how you’re the same as every other executive at your level in your field, but how you’re different. Broad, sweeping statements in executive resumes that are disproportionately focused on job responsibilities and could apply to just about anyone do not add value. Showcasing your distinctive expertise and accomplishments as a business leader will help you stand out from your competition.

Following are some of the concepts I keep in mind when writing executive resumes:

Highlight Unique Business Successes
Not every CFO trimmed expenses 37% in one year. Not every GM bolstered sales revenue to surpass targets by 15%. Not every Head of Merchandising launched six brands to outpace market growth by 5% in a given category. Not every Marketing SVP successfully repositioned a brand to deliver sales 20% year-over-year sales growth. These are the types of accomplishments that will set you apart from other candidates with similar experience.

Provide Context for Accomplishments
Effective executive resumes put accomplishments in perspective by noting the challenges faced, actions taken, and results achieved. An executive is hired with a very specific challenge in mind. Consider the “before” and “after” state of the business to illustrate that you were up against similar situations in your past roles and how you’ve overcome obstacles to deliver results.

Differentiate Position Scope
If you’re the CMO and one of only three executives at the top rather than one of a nine-member executive team, it’s likely that you’re heavily involved in all aspects of the business – that’s unique and should be called out in your executive resume.

Focus on Intangible Results, Too
Remember, results are not exclusively about business metrics. Results are also about the way you transformed the organization starting with the structure, culture, people, and processes, so be sure to mention those successes, too.

Need some help with your executive resume? Contact me and let’s schedule a time to talk.

My partnership with Resume Preferred ensures that early to mid-career professionals have access to my approach and process. Contact Robin Kelley at 415.596.4160 or for more information.