Is Your Resume Ready to Take You to the Next Level?

By Erin Kennedy

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You have been working your job search plan, and you finally receive the call for that job you have dreamed about. Now the HR Director is asking to get a copy of your resume. Even though you might be ready to take the next step in your career, is your resume ready for an executive-level position? Submitting a bland, non-focused resume with boring content will do nothing but get you taken off of the “call for an interview” list.

You may have all the skills and expertise to move from middle management to the c-suite, but your resume needs to show that you have the experience, achievements, and drive to do the job, and do it well. Writing your resume is not just including your career history and where you received your degree, it’s more about creating a document that tells the complete story of who you are, what you have achieved, how you achieved it, and the value you will provide at the next level…in a creative and exciting manner. Below are 5 quick tips that will help you to ensure that your updated resume effectively states “I’m ready for the c-suite and you need to hire me”…

Looks are important – You have no doubt heard “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but in resumes, people do judge you on the format. Start with an eye-catching one! While you don’t need to put so much color on your resume that it looks like the 4th of July, a pop of color will appeal to the reader and help your document to stand out right from the get-go. A font style that is clean and business-like is just as important.  Fancy scripts may look pretty, but they are difficult to read and you don’t want people having to work hard to read your text (and believe me, if they have to work hard, they aren’t going to read much past your name).

A keyword-rich executive summary is a must – If you still have an objective statement, ditch that and create a strong career summary that communicates what you have done in your career and the value you can provide at the next level. Include position and industry-specific keywords (not buzzwords…there is a difference!) that match your target position.

Showcase your greatest achievements – Include a “Career Highlights” section to give a brief synopsis of your biggest accomplishments if you want. Hint: quantifiable achievements speak the loudest and make a stronger impact than just a bullet list of text. Graphs and charts tell a quick story as well!

Your career history should be concise – At an executive level, you have many years of experience behind you. However, focus on your most recent work experience. Don’t go back more than 15 years (you can summarize the earlier stuff). A chronological format is the easiest, most clean-cut way to do this.  The exception – if your career goals/new job are unrelated to your current job…then you will want to use more of a function format to show that you DO still have the skills and experience for the job you’re trying to land.

Career history is more important than education - Education should be at the end of your resume with years eliminated unless you are a recent graduate. Include certifications or licenses, especially those relevant to the industry you are applying for. You want to keep them focused on your accomplishments and skillset, not where you went to school or when you graduated.  

If you are being recommended for that coveted c-suite position, be sure you have a resume that can back-up up the recommendation.  Don’t embarrass yourself (or the friend that recommended you) by submitting a bland resume that does nothing to market you as the ideal candidate for the job.  Instead, take the time to update your resume and maximize your chances of being the candidate whose next phone call is “we’d like to offer you the position”!

Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CPRW, CERW, CEMC, is a Certified Professional Resume Writer/Career Consultant, and the President of Professional Resume Services, named one of Forbes "Top 100 Career Websites". Considered an influencer, she is consistently listed as a “Top Career Expert to Follow” on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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