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 Resume-Writing Mistake #3: Using Generic, Ineffective Language

This is the final of my three-part series discussing executive resume-writing mistakes. The significance of each and every word in an executive resume can’t be overemphasized. My previous posts talked about highlighting your biggest selling points and the importance of providing context for specific accomplishments. Now, it’s time to turn our attention to the selection and quality of the words you use to convey your core strengths and accomplishments.

bigstock-Thinking-45114187Executive resume writing is like an art; there are no hard and fast rules, but there are general guidelines to follow that will enable you to effectively illustrate your impressive executive track record. While it’s true that an executive’s resume should not be overly detailed, it’s important to make sure your writing hits at the right level without being too vague and reading like every other executive. It’s important to remember that every word included on your resume needs to count and add value.

Where’s the haziness lurking?

In my resume-writing experience, vague writing pops up throughout a resume in the summary section and in defining scope of responsibility and outlining accomplishments. For example, the following summary statement could refer to any executive in the CPG space and is too generic:

Senior global consumer products executive with outstanding results in strategy, brand management and P&L management. Exceptional track record of delivering sales and profit growth significantly above market rates.

To give substance and specifics, you could reframe the message to read:

15-year career leading global and U.S. marketing strategy for x, y and z, positioning brands for long-term growth and stability. Generated strong, sustainable results in emerging and mature markets—over past four years delivered $800M in organic sales growth, outpacing industry growth by 5X.

See the difference? The goal is to avoid non-essential and vague detail. Every statement must tell the reader something important. If it doesn’t add value, don’t include it.

I’ve talked about how an executive resume shouldn’t give an overview of the “givens” of a role. For instance, as a CMO you wouldn’t need to mention that you presented a marketing strategy to the CEO—that is assumed and part of your role. When the strategy you developed drove sales growth by 15% in a year, however, that is worth mentioning. In this case, you would want to note the specifics. This is being clear in the message.

Be specific in language and message

You also want to be clear in the language, too. If an executive states that he/she built a high-performing organization, my first thoughts are “How did you transform it?” and “What were the results?” The wording is unclear and doesn’t give an idea of what that executive can do. Every leader should build a high-performing organization—the key is showing where the organization was, how you improved it and where you focused your efforts.

Here is another example of generic language:

Recruited to transform and grow the business.

Most executives are recruited for a specific reason—to solve a problem— often to change and grow a business. The information above doesn’t add value nor does it help to paint a clear picture of what the executive was charged to do and what he/she delivered.

Using meaningful language, you can restate as follows:

Delivered 20+% EBIT growth through disciplined strategy and sharpened focus on operational and service excellence, reversing 3-year stagnant P&L trajectory.

In one bullet, you’ve told the reader why you were brought in, what you achieved and how you did it—while keeping the content at the right level.

Another example:

Doubled sales channel volume and implemented cost savings initiatives to increase profit.

This statement immediately begs four questions:

  • How did you double sales volume?
  • What does that equate to in revenue?
  • What initiatives did you implement?
  • By how much did you increase profit?

Adding relevant detail eliminates the guesswork and clearly conveys your accomplishments.  Remember, vagueness is about the message and the language—avoid being imprecise in both aspects of the resume.

Use the before-and-after approach

Presenting highlights and accomplishments in terms of “before” and “after” is an effective resume-writing strategy. What was the company’s situation before you arrived, and how did your leadership change that situation? What were the results of your efforts? Be specific. Did you turn around an underperforming team and operations? Can you quantify that to provide even more detail? Use comparisons to show the difference you made—it illustrates what you’ve done and what you can do for a new company.

If I read a statement on a resume and think why, what or how after reading it, the message is not meaningful enough. Your goal is to provide the hiring executive with tangible, concrete information to peak their interest so they’ll contact you. Resumes with vague, non-essential statements should always be avoided.

If you’re looking for an executive resume writer who can help craft your message, please contact me today for a phone consultation.

Executive Resume-Writing Mistake #1: Including Accomplishments but Skimping on Context

This is the first in a three-part series about common mistakes executives make when putting together their resumes. In it, I’ll share insights from my experience as an executive resume writer on effective ways to create a resume that conveys your personal brand and puts you at the top of every hiring executive’s list.

bigstock-Stress-13061297Executives often excel at achieving business objectives, but putting together a resume can be a bit of a struggle. I see a lot of executives pack their resumes with specific business results or other successes, but miss the mark in providing context for their accomplishments.

Results are great, but don’t forget the obstacles and actions
A successful executive resume puts things in context by noting the following: Challenges faced, actions taken and results achieved.

An executive is hired with a very specific challenge in mind. A company wants to improve something or fix an issue whether it’s raising revenue, cutting expenses, revitalizing operations or repositioning a brand. Therefore, it is important to show that you were up against similar situations in your past roles, how you’ve overcome the challenges and how you’ve delivered results. Without providing the resume reader with a before-and-after snapshot of the situation, though, the resume won’t show off your powerful accomplishments.

Take into consideration the state of the company when you came on board. What was unique about the operating environment, both internally and externally? What were the specific obstacles? How was the business trending? How effective was your organization? What can you say about how you enacted changes, advanced the business/organization and produced results? In doing so, you’ll paint a clearer picture of what you—as an individual—have to offer and prove that you can perform and deliver under similar circumstances for a new company.

I recently worked with a CMO client who stated in her resume that she “repositioned a major retail brand and championed its evolution, increasing sales by 12%,” but didn’t provide context for the results. We found she could go a lot further to demonstrate just how effective she was as a C-suite leader and revised the information in this bullet to read:

  • Created clear distinction from sister brand to avert growing cannibalization and reverse 2-year negative sales trend. Within 12-month period, achieved 12% comp increase through effective repositioning, refreshed creative, greater cross-channel synergy and targeted marketing of untapped petite/pant categories.

This really shows that this candidate can turn things around…and in a relatively short period. That is the kind of executive that companies want leading their organizations. The goal is to state the challenge, actions taken, and results achieved—and timeframe if it’s impressive.

Highlight intangible results, too
Remember, your results are not all about business metrics, though those help a resume stand out. It’s also about the way you transformed the organization starting with the people and processes, so be sure to mention those successes, too.

For instance, instead of noting that you “established a participative leadership team,” think about the state of the organization when you first joined and specify how you transformed it. In the aforementioned resume, I revised this statement to read:

  • Elevated marketing function, shifting from siloed, disenfranchised and unmotivated leadership team to one of full synergy, participation and drive.

This puts the executive’s actions into context, showing where the organization was and where it is today as a result of her leadership efforts. No numbers needed, but a significant accomplishment to note; it shows she is a hands-on leader and can engage her team…traits that hiring executives want to know.

Keep it light
It’s not necessary to write a ton of text to convey these specifics, either. You just have to know the message you want to send and do so in a concise, well-written way, without extraneous details that don’t add value. Hiring executives simply do not have the time to wade through and interpret dense resumes to find your true worth.

If you’re looking for a resume writer who can convey your strong executive track record and all you have to offer, contact me today for a free phone consultation.