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Five Easy Steps to Executive Resume Readability

Five Easy Steps to Executive Resume Readability

Sometimes, people write things they don’t really want others to read. The fine print that flashes by other commercial. That long text at the end of the credits on every “The Big Bang Theory” episode. The note you passed to your best friend in sixth grade.

But not your resume. If your resume is not readable, nobody will try to read it no matter how amazing your experience may be. Here are five easy steps you can take to ensure that your resume is readable, presentable, and sending the message you, as an executive, need to send to your future hiring leader.Five Steps to Executive Resume Readability

  1. Use the right typeface. Whether you call it typeface or font, be sure to use a style and size that is easy to read. My personal favorites are Times New Roman and Arial, as they are universal to every computer. Second bests are Calibri and Cambria, Tahoma, Verdana, and Century, all in 11-point type. You may also try Arial Narrow or Garamond, but do not use either one of these in a size smaller than 11 points. While you don’t have to make your resume scream in the style of John Hancock, you do want to ensure that the typeface you have picked is more or less universally available and in a size that an ordinary person would consider large enough to read. It should go without saying that typefaces with scrollwork or shadows are better suited to documents that are not professionally oriented.
  2. Use horizontal rules and shading appropriately. Feel free to break up your text with horizontal rules and highlight important pieces of data with tasteful shading. Good color choices are gray, green, tan, and blue. I tend to stay away from red, as percentages of red come out pink, which I don’t like on professional documents. Of course, you will need to evaluate your specific industry and the expectations of your future hiring manager to determine how design-heavy you want to be. If you are applying for a marketing directorship or design a leadership role, you may be expected to present a resume that is heavy on design. On the other hand, if you are applying to be a bank executive or a financial leader, more plain may tend to be better for your specific outcomes.
  3. Use the right margin size. Although there are many ways to present resume date up well, a good rule of thumb is to decrease your margins from the standard 1-inch level to .5 inch to .65 inch. The benefit is you will have more page real estate to use, and your resume won’t look like it was styled after a college paper.
  4. Use page numbers and headers for page 2 and beyond. I agree, that headers take up space, but it would be tragic for one of your two-or three-page resume to go missing from the stack  without a marker to tell its reader with which candidate it belongs. You can feel pretty confident that a busy professional with a stack of resumes to read won’t take the time to sort out which paper belongs with which candidate, so please make it easy for that person to solve this potential problem.
  5. Standard resumes for executives do not exceed three pages. You may find a one-page resume or executive biography suffices for a particular purpose. Most professionals typically need two pages to do justice to their entire career history. And many executives often find their resumes go on to three pages, which at that level, it’s perfectly acceptable. It is not a good choice to exceed the three-page limit for the basic information of your career history. If your resume is too long, your reader simply won’t read to the end. Take advantage of your resume real estate in the most effective way possible, and be concise about your accomplishments. If you have additional information you want to present, for example a list of publications, presentations, or volunteer leadership roles, then please do include a separate document with a separate heading as an addendum. But the rule of thumb of one to three pages overall is a good one to follow.

In conclusion, readability of the resume document itself can be as important as its contents. It is possible that a hiring manager might find your resume hard to read and put it aside simply because it doesn’t match the expectations for usability. Do not be one of those whose resume is consigned to the trash simply because you didn’t consider the documents overall readability and design.

Learn why your executive resume isn’t making the cut: Top 5 Resume Mistakes That Say “Don’t Hire Me”

Tips for Recording Your Executive Success at Work

Tips for Recording Your Executive Success at Work

For executives in need of a resume lift: The time is now to record your executive experience, so you can create a rock solid executive resume. I believe in the need for executives to maintain an accurate written or electronic record of their accomplishments in every job they have held–and they should maintain those records for at least 10 years. Nevertheless, recording executive accomplishments will help you write the executive resume that will secure future promotions, job transfers, and selection for major new projects that can advance executive careers to the C-suite.

Resume Strategies for Executives Who Never Went to College

Resume Strategies for Executives Who Never Went to College

I wish I had a nickel for every time I received a call from an executive who qualifies his or her career history with, “But I never went to college.” No matter what some of these people have done in their careers, no matter how big the businesses they built became, and know how much no matter how much money they made, their lack of college education seems to stick in their craws. Maybe it’s the one thing they were never able to do. Maybe it’s the one thing they always wanted to do. In my experience, these executives seem to have the most amazing stories and the best experience, and all of that belongs on their executive resumes.

The question of whether these executives should include their high school degrees on their resumes is almost moot. On the one hand, they could include their high school education, which would only highlight the fact that they never went to college. You never want to draw attention to what an executive recruiter might see as a shortcoming. Rather, it makes sense to turn this apparent lack into an opportunity to showcase your skills and expertise.

On your executive resume, you need to re-title your education section, and call it “Executive Development.” In this section can include a number of critical elements of your training and development. It doesn’t necessarily have to include formal education. Examples of the types of experience to conclude in professional and relevant include:

  • Company training programs.
  • Personal development programs, such as Stephen Covey, or Dale Carnegie.
  • Conferences in your industry.
  • Professional mentor ships, either that you have delivered or participate in.
  • Professional memberships, especially if you have held leadership roles.
  • Any college courses you have ever taken, even if they did not result in a degree.
  • Industry training programs, especially if they resulted in certifications that are relevant to your career goals.

Even if a job posting or job opportunity requires a certain level of education, you will find in many cases that executive recruiters and executive hiring boards might be willing to overlook the fact that you do not have a college education in favor of all of the professional experience you bring to the table. If you find that you are passed over for a particular role because you do not have a college degree, you may consider the fact that that company would be a bad fit for you in any case, and you would not do well in that company’s culture.

The benefit of including all of your professional training and certifications in your executive development section is that it detracts from your not having a college degree– in fact it sidesteps the question entirely and highlights the best of what you have done in the best of what you have learned. As a complement to your executive experience, this executive development showcases that you are an expert in your field and in your industry, which is really what an executive board or executive recruiter is looking for.

Learn why your executive resume isn’t making the cut: Top 5 Resume Mistakes That Say “Don’t Hire Me”

Top 10 Resume Mistakes by Job Seekers Over 40

Top 10 Resume Mistakes by Executive Job Seekers Over 40

If you haven’t written a resume in the last decade or more, that’s a good thing.

That means you’ve been working in jobs that loved you as much as you have loved them. However, if you’re reading this, you’re probably in an executive job search, and you’re probably of an age where you wonder whether your years of experience is going to hurt or help. Your new resume won’t be anything like the resume you used to get your first (or perhaps your most recent) job. Times have changed for executive job seekers, and so have resume strategies. Read on, so you don’t make these top 10 executive resume mistakes:

  1. Writing “Resume” at the top of the first page. On the one hand, that’s overstating the completely obvious, and you’re wasting important resume real estate that could be used  more strategically (see #10 below). On the other, if you ever upload your resume to apply for jobs, that is to an electronic applicant tracking system (ATS), you’ll forever be known in the database as Resume No Last Name, which won’t  help you when a recruiter is looking for you.
  2. Including an I-want objective rather than a statement of value, (personal branding statement). Objectives are passé, as they focus on the candidate’s needs rather than the hiring manager’s requirements. Job seekers over 40 need to remember that until they are offered the position, everything they do or say in the job search process has to focus on solving the hiring manager’s pain, not their own.
  3. Including the dates of your college or university education. We can all subtract 22 from that year and get a sense of the applicant’s vintage. To avoid potential age discrimination, a job candidate should not telegraph her age on the resume.
  4. Not including an e-mail address. Older workers need to have a professional e-mail (not their company’s) for job search purposes. Including an e-mail shows that the candidate is not technology-averse and is available for communication at any time of day.
  5. Using a home telephone line. When a job hunter uses a home telephone number that is likely to be answered by children, it indicates to the hiring manager that the candidate might have certain liabilities, for example, insurance requirements or need for impromptu time off. As mobile phones are so prevalent and inexpensive, a job seeker over 40 should maintain mobile phone service, using a professional voice mail recording, that only she or he will be answering. For that matter, you don’t have to mention on your resume that the number you’re giving is your mobile number. People likely will expect you to use your mobile number, especially for direct accessibility but also for texting. Don’t have a mobile number? You can simulate having one, or add a separate number just for your job search at ZERO cost to you (this is my favorite job search hack—ask me about it. I’ve been using this hack for myself for almost a decade.).
  6. Writing a resume that is only 1 page when you have 3 pages’ worth of good, relevant experience. Let’s face it–hiring managers are likely to stop reading your resume after one or two pages if you are giving them boring details that don’t relate to their needs. But what if you have a lifetime’s worth of great, relevant experience? You absolutely should tell your future hiring manager about your great accomplishments, so they can see the answer to their problems in your professional history.
  7. Writing about more than 10 years’ worth of job roles (and balancing your breadth and depth of experience with #5 above). Hiring managers are focusing on what a candidate can do for them today—not what they were expected to do 20 years ago. Professionals over 40 should use resume real estate wisely and hit their most recent (or their most relevant) positions the hardest and give a fair amount of attention to 3–4 additional prior roles. If the candidate has a critical, relevant element of experience that is older than 10 years, he can include a line or two about it at the end of his executive experience section—without dates of employment.
  8. Not including a personalized (vanity) LinkedIn profile link. LinkedIn is the social medium most likely to be utilized by hiring managers and recruiters in the job search process. Candidates over 40 should take advantage of this free service and create a profile that makes a hiring manager want to pick up the phone. With that in mind, someone in the job market must create a vanity URL (available in the profile options) and put that link in the header of his resume.
  9. Writing about only soft skills and not about accomplishments. Soft skills are critical in any job, but would “great team player” be anything but an expectation for a hiring executive’s new employee? Job seekers over 40 must remember that reporting on accomplishments—the successes they’ve demonstrated for each job—is what gets hiring managers’ attention.
  10. Writing about only accomplishments and no soft skills (see #9 above). Challenge yourself to include the best of your experience by showing rather than telling your future hiring executive the half dozen reasons you’re the right choice to solve their problems right now.

“I’m an experienced executive—how do I prove it and avoid these critical resume mistakes as I go through my executive job search?”

Updated January 2017

New Resume Services for the Savvy Jobseeker and the Recruiters and Coaches Who Help Them Succeed

In case you haven’t visited Five Strength’s main site, I hope you’ll take a minute to look around now. We’ve revamped our service offerings to include a lot more than just cover letters and resumes. Learn more about our executive resume writing services, or message Amy L. Adler at aadler at fivestrengths.com.