Cut the Clutter, and Start Storytelling in Your Executive Resume
The biggest mistake you are making with your executive resume is one you do not even know you are doing. You’re describing your career history. It is true–you are describing your jobs one by one, and you are boring your audience, ensuring that they do not read beyond the first line or two of each position you have held. Read on to learn how to change your executive resume writing strategy by minimizing the space you use to describe your career.
You Are Probably Thinking that This Resume Strategy Sounds Crazy
You might be thinking that storytelling is a crazy strategy for your executive resume, but I assure you it is not. The truth is that no hiring executive wants to know what your human resources department thinks your job should be. If you are simply describing your position, you are dulling your top-notch expertise into a simple paragraph and a few bullets that do not do your career justice.
Cut the Clutter, and Start Storytelling
Instead of describing the minutiae of your daily job duties, start telling stories. Your future hiring executive wants to know not what you did, but how you did it. Another way to think of this is that your future hiring executive wants to be able to evaluate your experience in the context of your company and your industry, not in the context of the HR-speak in the company files. If you need a good rule of thumb, the body of your executive resume should be about 30% position description and 70% storytelling.
How to Tell a Great Story in Your Executive Resume in Three Easy Steps
Follow this rubric to tell great stories in your resume. Your resume will be more interesting to start, and your future hiring executive will be able to associate the problems in his or her companies with the types of solutions you are accustomed to driving.
Step 1: Pick a Career Story Topic
Your story topic can be
- “What was the mess/situation/complexity that you were hired to solve?”
- “What was the best thing you ever did in your job, the cool outcome that makes you smile every time you recall it?”
- “What was the worst project you worked on? Why was it awful?”
- And many more, all related to the types of problems you expect your future hiring executive to be facing (check the job posting if you are not sure what they want!).
Step 2: Tell What You Did to Fix It
In the second step, describe the action(s) you took to resolve the problem. Talk about your team’s contributions, your leadership, the money you invested or saved, and the process you followed to ensure a positive outcome. For example, you might describe how you negotiated a termination clause with a vendor and brought a development team in-house for a particularly thorny project. Or you might describe the way you coached your sales team to increase top-line revenue.
Step 3. Describe the Outcome
In the final step, tell what happened in your company or your industry as a result of your contribution described in step 2. In the examples above, you might describe how bringing your development team in-house sped production 10% and saved the company 16% monthly over the original vendor cost. Or you might indicate that your sales team exceeded quota by 15% for three consecutive quarters and are on track for +18% in the current quarter.
Putting It All Together: The Accomplishment versus the Duty
In conclusion, nobody cares that you were responsible for hiring a development team or for driving sales. At the executive level, these are part and parcel of your job, and talking about them the way your job description reads is frankly boring. If you want to wow your future hiring executive, then you need to put the bulleted statements together in a way that cannot be ignored or overlooked:
- Within three months of hire, jump-started flagging [project title] by exercising termination clause on expensive development vendor and recruiting 5 in-house developers plus project manager; completed project 10% faster than plan and saved 16% on projected budget.
- For three consecutive quarters, coached team to exceed quota by 15% with combination of advanced product training and weekend retreat focused on selling strategies and customer needs assessments. On track to beat quota in Q4 20XX by 18%.
These are the accomplishment statements that impress hiring leaders. Your hiring executive needs to know not just what you did but how you did it and why it was important. Remember, if the accomplishment is relevant to a future executive role and important to you, you can tell a great story about it.
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