Thirty seconds. That’s all you have when it comes to making a memorable first impression with your executive resume.
That’s why it’s so important that your resume cuts through the competition, gets noticed and gets results. If you’re sending out resumes and not getting interviews, you know that your resume is probably not up to scratch. It’s that simple.
“When I’m doing a search for an executive role, I’m looking for specific details that match what my client is after,” Executive Interview Coaching founder Richard Elstone said. “I want as many questions answered as possible by looking at the resume. I’d spend about 30 seconds on average scanning a resume and say if I’m looking at 120 resumes, maybe just 8 to 10 will get an interview.”
So, how do you ensure your executive resume stands out from the crowd and lands in that magic interview pile?
Richard shares his top 3 tips:
1 Make your achievements measurable and specific
When it comes to selling yourself, you need to include measurable examples of how you have made a difference to the companies you have worked for in your previous roles.
One of the easiest ways to do this is, is to include quantitative data. Why? Numbers build credibility. They stand out to executive search recruiters. And they make an impact.
Here’s an example – which sounds better?
“Developed a new sales strategy which grew company revenue substantially.” OR “Developed and implemented a new national sales strategy which grew company revenues by 34% in FY21.”
Bet you’d agree the first version pales in comparison to the second.
“When I scan a resume, what I’m looking for are the numbers,” said Richard. “I want to see what measurable impacts the person has made in the roles they have been working in.
“Generally, when I’m scanning a page, I’ll look for a number, and then I’ll read the phrase around the number and if I like that, I’ll read the entire paragraph,” said Richard.
“Otherwise, the resume is just full of words and there’s nowhere for the eye to stop.”
“All of my clients, without exception, are hiring someone who can make a difference to their business. The numbers give me a clue as to whether the person has made a difference to the organisation they have been working with.”
2 Get the layout right
Richard recommends keeping executive resumes to 3-4 pages.
Page 1 should provide a great snapshot overview about you and your experience before launching into the resume proper. Include your:
Overview about yourself
Hint: white space is your friend. Use bullet points to break up the text.
“White space draws the eye in, so it’s extremely important,” said Richard.
From page 2 onwards, share your employment history, focusing on your last four to five roles.
Include a brief overview of the organisation, role title and tenure. Mention your reporting lines (were you the CIO reporting to the CFO, or the CFO reporting to the CEO), and how many direct reports you lead, as well as the size of your team, any profit and loss responsibility and the budget you might be responsible for if applicable.
Next, explain the key challenges you faced in each role and major business issues that surround that. This should lead nicely into your achievements. As mentioned earlier, these need to be measurable and explain what impact you made to the company.
“For example, when you took over as CFO, the company may have been breaching its banking covenants or the cashflow might have been poor – whatever it might be,” said Richard. “It’s then very easy to give the numbers in your achievements – for instance, ‘reduced debtor days from 40 to 10 or 75% or ‘repaired our relationship with the bank and ensured we did not breach the bank’s covenants and therefore reduced our interest rates by 2%, which added $3 million to the bottom line’.”
3 Choose your words carefully
A strong resume needs strong language, so avoid weak or passive action words. Opt for powerful action words instead.
Some great examples you could include when referring to past achievements include:
Another tip: use first person but drop the ‘I’ and ‘me’ where possible. For example:
“Developed and implemented a new national sales strategy which grew the company revenues by 34% in FY21.”
“I developed and implemented a new national sales strategy which grew the company revenues by 34% in FY21.”
Oh yes, we almost forgot, what’s the purpose of a resume?
To get an interview! It’s as simple as that.
LIKE TO KNOW MORE?
Executive Interview Coaching offers a range of services to help you land your next executive role.
Get in touch today to find out more!