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How to Promote Volunteerism on Your Executive Resume

How to Promote Volunteerism on Your Executive Resume

Updated May 27, 2018

I received an interesting question that actually mirrors a question I get from my private clients quite a lot: Can I use volunteer work on a resume? This individual wanted to know whether hiring managers like what she has done, or will they consider it fluff? Her story is much like those of many who have experienced a gap in their career histories, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. This person has all the hallmarks of a top hire: She’s a college graduate, super smart, well-read, is a true knowledge seeker and seeker of truth, and has led major organizations with multiple reporting layers. Unsurprisingly, she sounds like many of the executives with whom I have worked over the years.  How can she promote her career history on her resume, even though the majority of her work has been in volunteer roles?

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How will you promote your volunteerism on your executive resume?

First and foremost, it’s important to recognize as an article of faith that work is work, even if it’s unpaid. Never lose sight of the fact that what you do every day has relevance for your job search strategy, because you’re doing something important and valuable.  And exploring what you like about the various volunteer roles you have had can help you narrow down your career target as well.

Examples of this type of volunteer work from which your resume can benefit can include:

  • Sitting on the board of a non-profit institution.
  • Volunteering at a church or synagogue.
  • Leading programs as part of your child’s PTA.
  • Organizing an event, such as a food drive or fun run.
  • Serving as a Boy Scout or Girl Scout guide.
  • Coaching a sports team.

There are, of course, many other types of volunteerism that can bolster your job application process. The crucial thing to remember is that you must couch your leadership contributions and your accomplishments in the same way that you account for them with your regular paid positions. Remember, work is work, even if it’s unpaid.

Let’s look at a few possibilities in which volunteerism can amplify your executive resume and your executive job search strategy overall.

Volunteerism that Supports Your Return to the Workforce

The first possibility is that you have been out of the workforce for a while, whether for family obligations, layoff, sabbatical, travel, or any other reason you’ve chosen to take yourself away from your career for some extended period of time. Now that it’s time to go back to paid work, you need to capture and organize your volunteer work to showcase its value.

To execute on this well, you should include volunteer roles as actual in-line work experience, and you’re not obligated to reveal the exact amount you were paid or not paid to do the work. The process of describing what you did every day and the successes you created are just as valuable – if you can prove that your expertise parallels the knowledge and experience that your career target requires.

Write down all of your volunteer work and the ways in which you improved or added to the organization. The categories of expertise can be leadership and management, financial responsibility, operational expertise, sales of ideas / services / goods, marketing, and more. These are exactly the types of knowledge and proven ability that your future audience needs to know you have, and they are subject to the challenge-action-result strategy that you’ve heard me talk about before in many other podcasts on this show. I’m not going to go in to the CAR strategy here, but rest assured that you can use the challenge-action-result method even when the work you have done is unpaid.

Each of these volunteer roles, and the promotions to leadership you might have experienced as well, become “jobs” in your resume, and they should be listed exactly the same way as your paid work is detailed. You make absolutely no distinction between your former paid work and your volunteer work, because they both are strongly reflective of the expertise your future hiring executive needs you to have to be successful in the role to which you’re applying.

Volunteerism that Supplements Your Ongoing Paid Work

A second flavor of using volunteerism on your resume is useful when you have had a largely intact career timeline but want to add to your career history some skills and expertise that your paid work doesn’t demonstrate.

Including volunteer work on a professional resume can be a critical way of ensuring that a hiring manager understands the full flavor of your experience. For example, your professional career might be a greased rail to success, but it might lack a specific dimension that you need to promote. By highlighting your volunteer experience, you can show that you have many types of expertise, not just the kind that you get paid for day to day.

Let’s say that you are a senior vice president of finance, and you want to demonstrate your expertise in operations and team leadership, so that you can move into a broader role, perhaps a chief financial officer position. You might offer up your recent work as the chair of a committee for a local nonprofit, a role you’ve held for several years. You then describe the scope and value of that work, for example, how you fulfilled the mission of the organization through the role, how many people you guided to that goal, and how you overcame multiple challenges along the way.

Volunteer Work as the Basis for Your References

Last, your volunteer roles can serve as a source of references for you. If you had any type of reporting relationship with leaders of a volunteer organization, it’s a good idea to ask them to write you a letter of recommendation on the organization’s letterhead commenting on your contributions. These people can also become excellent sources of references when you need to give names and numbers to interviewers of people who can vouch for your excellent work ethic, ability to organize projects and teams, and so on. These leaders likely will know you well and be able to describe your success and contributions to their organizations, and, because you have done an incredible job, they are going to be willing to share a few words with your future hiring executive as well.

Examples of the types of individuals who might serve as excellent references from your volunteer work include:

  • The executive team of the group to which you donated your time and expertise.
  • Event leaders, when you directed a portion of the event.
  • Co-organizers, who can comment on your excellent team spirit and ability to motivate the group.
  • Your direct report team.
  • A beneficiary of a nonprofit event.

To conclude, your professional paid work history is not the only type of work that belongs on your resume. By putting your volunteer work on a resume, you can expand on and elaborate on what makes you special and what makes you unique and the only one who can do what you do in the way that you do it. In short, volunteer work on your professional resume enhances your brand.

Your Executive Resume: Hard Numbers and Visuals

Your Executive Resume: Measuring Your Outcomes with Hard Numbers and Visuals

Using Numbers and Metrics in Your Resume to Prove You’re Really “That Good”

Normally, when we think about resumes, or historically what they looked like, we think of an HR job description—a colorless description, or “This is what I did.” It’s bland, it reads like HR-speak, and often includes the dreaded “responsible for.” Your executive resume needs more than this.

Wouldn’t it be better to prove in your executive resume that you’re good at what you do by showing results? There’s no guessing when you can prove to your future hiring executive that you have succeeded in exactly the kind of ambiguity that their company is facing.

Using Numbers in Your Resume Adds Color and Depth to Your Career History

The best way to prove that you can deliver results is by providing measurements of your success—literally quantifiable numbers, metrics, KPIs (key performance indicators), or measurements of ROI (return on investment). Additional fairly simple avenues to explore include:

  • The number the things that you wanted to and completed
  • The number of people you recruited and onboarded (and maybe promoted)
  • The number of new customers you drove to the business
  • The total dollar amount of revenues, or their percentage increase quarter over quarter or year over year.

So these kinds of counts or measurements of change show a couple of things in your resume. The first is that you’ve accomplished the goal that you set out to, and you can benchmark those numbers against company expectations or industry standards. The second is that it shows that what you are presenting is incontrovertible evidence of your success. This is really important, because a hiring manager might read your resume decide that your strategies are not what their company needs right now, but they can’t argue with the veracity of your claims to success. They can’t look at that number and believe that you’re not telling the truth.

Because you’re always telling the truth in your resume (cardinal rule of resume strategy—don’t eve lie), then you are leveling with your audience. You’re saying to your audience, “I did this thing, and here’s the proof. Right here is the number that says I did what I was supposed to do.” If you’re targeting your resume appropriately, your audience is going to love what you have demonstrated, and if they need someone like you, you’re the ideal candidate for them to reach out to.

So, in your resume now that you have these numbers, how do you present them effectively in your resume? These metrics become the “results” in your “challenge – action – results” bullet points. Furthermore, you can present them visually. The first way to do this is to present your data in a table of figures. A well-constructed table, with labels, grids, and colors, can help your audience interpret the data the way you need them to understand your message.

Another way to present a series of data is to visually represent those numbers in a graph. It’s so easy for someone to look at a chart and understand that the numbers “go up.” Of course, your chart is going to be detailed, so a savvy reader who wants to drill down into the data will be able to do that, but even a cursory look at the chart will give a great high-level message.

You might be thinking that these are unorthodox approaches–I promise you they are not. Visual representations of sales figures that started out low and then went high, or operation costs that started out higher and then wet low, are going to hit your audience right in the gut. These images are plugging into exactly what your audience expects to know about their ideal candidate. So give them what they want and show them what they want in multiple modalities, not just in the text but as a visual representation as well.

What Will the Resume Look Like in Ten Years?

What Will the Resume Look Like in Ten Years?

Over the past ten years, many elements of the resume have changed. That’s not to say that the professional resume hasn’t continually evolved since its creation, which is attributable to Leonardo da Vinci. The resume is a document subject to evolution, just like everything else. With every new piece of technology, an aspect of the resume changes. What exactly is different in the way resumes are written now versus how they were written ten years ago? What does that mean for resumes in the future?

One-does-all vs. One-for-one

One resume used to be enough. You would have one resume crafted, generic in content, listing your previous jobs and responsibilities. Numerous copies of that resume would be printed on expensive resume paper and it was used for every job application. Employers would receive applications from roughly ten people per post and take the time to review each resume. That isn’t the case now. Each job you apply to should have a variation of your resume with no repeats, the exception being applications to the exact position with other companies. However, more than likely, there will be keywords that differ from company to company. With the way resumes are now submitted, electronically, companies might receive hundreds of applications per post. It is easy for employers to weed out applicants with some type of resume-screening software, making keywords necessary. The software will eliminate applicants who don’t meet the keywords, narrowing the applicant pool. Some companies may still review each resume by hand, but customization is still important.

Method of Submission

Resumes have been sent by every method – snail mail, fax, email, donut delivery – and that will probably not change. In the past, you sent your resume by snail mail, waiting to hear back from the hiring manager once they have personally reviewed it. Now, email and online job application submission are the most common method of resume acceptance. Hiring managers typically use a hard-copy of the resume to take notes during the actual interview, which could change with the use of a tablet in the future, but that seems an unlikely progression given the interview environment. Having an online presence is necessary and can increase your chances of being asked to interview. The challenge lies in how you present yourself and through what type of online resource – portfolio, LinkedIn profile, website, etc.

Duties and Accomplishments

Your resume, at one point in your career, was a conglomeration of all your past jobs, the skills you needed for each one, and what duties you performed. However, there is such a thing as too much information. The current practice is to provide all relevant information that pertains to the job you’re applying to. As mentioned earlier, you will accumulate resumes specific to certain types of jobs and may have many versions of the same information. You will also leave out past positions that aren’t relevant, like the very first job you had waiting tables or cashiering.

Leaving out the irrelevant gives you room to expand upon your expertise in your field, including major accomplishments and special training. Highlight what you know best and show the employers what you can do. Minimizing the fluff in your resume will benefit you in the long run because most hiring managers use software to analyze resumes. The software is designed to recognize keywords within the resume and weed out applicants.

Personal Touches

While you should make yourself stand out from the crowd, you don’t want to overshare personal details to your potential new employers. It was common to add personal statements with details like your age, marital status, children, hobbies, religion, or even a photograph. Now, employers really don’t want to see information unless it is directly related to the job – they would actually prefer not to know personal details. Personal details on a resume leave the employer in a tricky situation because they could then be accused of discrimination based on those personal interests, your appearance, or affiliations. Really, the rule of thumb here is: When in doubt, leave it out.

You do want to be unique, but it should be shown through what you can do for that employer. Portfolios, websites, and social media create the whole picture for an employer. We are living in an age of technology where nearly every document can be forged – saying things or having them on your resume isn’t necessarily enough. If you say you can do something, you need to be prepared to demonstrate your talents.

The Only Constant Is Change

Proper grammar and spelling are the only things that will never change when it comes to a professional resume or document. What will resumes look like in our future? There is no guaranteed response to this, but predictions are welcome. Will we move to only using social media, like LinkedIn, as our means of job application and personal representation? It is always possible to move back to a simpler representation of the resume, however unlikely. Looking back through the history of resume evolution, dating back five centuries, it would be unlikely that a professional resume would stop being part of the job application process, but what it will look like is still a bit of a mystery.

Remember, the only constant in this world is change.

 

By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor
Photo attributed to Stuart Miles of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
A Resume: Not Just for Job Search

A Resume: Not Just for Job Search

A Resume: Not Just for Job Search

Resumes display your accomplishments, are your marketing tools, and are the foundation of your brand. While keeping yours up-to-date can be painstaking or time-consuming, doing so is important. You never know when you will need your resume. Not only do you need it if, worst-case scenario, you are in the market for a new job or career path, but resume writing can help you reflect on your professional development and even prepare for your next annual review.A Resume: Not Just for Job Search

Why should you update your resume?

Simply put, life is fluid and your resume should show every change you find important. If you only update the document when you’re looking for a job, you could sell yourself short. Taking the time to write down all of your accomplishments will give you an edge when you actually need your resume. Think of it more like a list of completed tasks than a dictation of your skills:

  • Presentations, Conferences, Interviews

You may be asked to or want to present at a conference, publish any of your work, or sit for an interview. Providing the media or conference organizer with your resume will back up your information. Then, you can add that experience to your resume!

  • Nominations

Colleagues can nominate you for awards, but your resume usually needs to be presented to the awards committee for validation. An up-to-date resume will reveal all of your achievements in a way you are confident and comfortable with. Waiting until asked will result in a rush to fix that years old resume and scrambling to come up with something that won’t represent yourself well.

  • Freelance work

While you might not be looking for a new job or career, you may decide to pick up side jobs. Freelancing is a good way to earn some spending money and add on to your skill set. However, most contracted work requires a current resume.

  • Recruiters

If you keep your social media (LinkedIn) up to date as well, a recruiter might reach out to you. Your skills and experience draw attention. Recruiters look for the best fit candidates despite job standing. Of course, you can turn down any offers or ignore recruiters, but keep that resume recent on the off chance you might be interested.

  • Promotion at your current workplace

Promotion opportunities don’t become available often. If your resume is current, you can apply for that promotion quickly, without having to take the time to change it.

Put yourself in the employer’s shoes

When creating your resume, think about what an employer wants to see. What are they looking for and what experiences will set you apart from other potential candidates? Resumes are a snapshot of you as a person and most employers spend about ten seconds perusing a resume unless they find something worth further inspection. Electronic documents are used much more often than paper, so keep that in mind. If your resume looks like everyone else’s, it will be treated in kind. Employers also appreciate consistency. When taking the time to recent your resume, be consistent — meaning don’t just update LinkedIn if your resume is posted on several other social media profiles. And take the time to tailor it to a job you are interested in. If you want to highlight your skills for one job but experience for another, create different copies of your resume to that effect.

Think about your resume like a long-term career management tool. When you sit down to update it, you have the opportunity to examine your personal values, communication-style, and experiences to display them in a manner that will set yourself apart from your competition. It is a great way to highlight all of your experiences and reflect on where you’ve been to how far you’ve come in your career. Using a resume to reflect on all of your positions and skills gives you an opportunity to be confident in your abilities and know exactly of what you are capable. Even if you aren’t currently looking for a job, you should keep it as up-to-date as possible. Don’t wait until you need a resume, keep one on hand for worst-case scenarios or if you are pursuing a step up in your career field.

By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor
Image by phasinphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Put Yourself on the Job Search Map: Strategies for Your Address on Your Resume

Put Yourself on the Job Search Map: Strategies for Your Address on Your Resume

Your address on your resume is critical in your executive job search.

Your address on your resume is critical in your executive job search.

Job search in your own region is difficult, but it is even harder and more complicated to succeed in a job search when you are looking to move to a new geography. You might not have the time to go on cross-country treks for interviews, or you might be excluded from the running because you’re not a ‘”local” candidate. Read on for important resume strategies to improve your odds of getting interviews and job offers for executive jobs outside of your region.

Targeting only Local Executive Positions

Your address on your resume clearly places you in a specific location. If you are searching for a new executive role in your region, hiring leaders are likely to believe that you have some flexibility around interview and start date timing. After all, in most cases, an interview day will not require the expenses and frustrations of overnight travel. If you are applying for local role, therefore, your local address can be one more data point that compels a hiring executive to invite you to continue in the interview process. Therefore, including your address on your resume can improve your chances of being selected for an interview simply based on the convenience factor, all else being equal among you and the other candidates for the position.

Targeting Right Executive Job Openings Regardless of Their Location

On the other hand, if your address on your resume indicates that you are applying from a distance of hundreds or even thousands of miles, then the hiring leader might choose to exclude you on the basis of the complexity of bringing you in and, ultimately, requiring a move across the country.

Therefore, you might choose to include only your name, phone number, and professional email on your resume. This practice has become much more standard. Unlike decades past, your hiring executive is more likely to call your mobile phone or email you than send you a letter via the U.S. Postal Service. For convenience, many people keep their longstanding mobile numbers no matter where they move. We have all encountered executives whose mobile phone area codes do not match their locations, and this practice currently raises few red flags.

Targeting Your Executive Job Search on a Specific Region

If you are targeting a specific location across the state or across the country, you can implement a different type of strategy that enables you to include a local address on your resume. You can successfully and legitimately claim a local address

If removing your address and using your nonlocal but permanent mobile phone number make you uncomfortable, consider the following strategies for your address on your executive resume:

1. Secure a local street address in the city or region that you are targeting. The simplest method of doing this is to use a mailbox service with a street address in the new city.

2. If you want to be completely up front about your move, include the words “Relocating to” with a temporary local address.

3. Get a telephone number with a local area code. Many inexpensive or free phone redirect services enable you to have a telephone number with a local area code that redirects to your existing home or mobile phone number.

Your Resume’s Address: The Bottom Line

Your location matters in your job search for several key reasons, all of them financial. On the one hand, your hiring executive might want to interview all candidates within a certain time span, which could make bringing candidates in from other regions difficult. On the other, the costs of moving a family across the country plus temporary housing, meals, and the search for a new home–called a “relocation package”– can be thousands of additional dollars added to the expenses of hiring a new executive.

Of course, a sufficiently unique skill set and the proof that you are truly the right one for the position for the long term can drive a hiring executive to seek you out and negotiate with you for the position. The terms of negotiation could include relocation services directly paid by the new employer or a one-time signing bonus intended to cover the costs of relocation.

 

Image courtesy of freeimages.com / Kolobsek

Your Executive Resume Writing Checklist

Your Executive Resume Writing Checklist–Examples from a Real Executive Resume

If you are looking for a new executive job, you are probably checking and rechecking your resume. Use the following checklist to ensure that your executive resume contains all of the elements your audience is expecting to read. If you do not include everything on this list, you risk underrepresenting yourself, failing to meet your audience’s expectations, and eliminating yourself from the running even before the race to selection begins.

1. Take It from the Top: Your Name

Check to make sure your executive resume has all of these elements.

Check to make sure your executive resume has all of these elements.

Your resume must begin with your name. No exceptions. Do not title your resume “Resume,” and do not deviate from the First Name, Last Name, Advanced Degree/Certification (if applicable and relevant to your targeted position) format. Do not put this information in the document header, or it will be lost to applicant tracking systems.

2. Executives in the ‘Hood: Your Contact Information

Directly below your name should be your contact information. Use a street address, not a P.O. box. Include a mobile phone number or another number that you will know to answer professionally. Include only one set of contact information.

3. Inquiring Minds Want to Know: Title Your Resume with Your Position Title

If the intern opens the mail or sorts resumes, into which position should he be sorting your resume? Ease this process and brand yourself well by titling your resume with your current job title or your future job title.

4. What Does Your Billboard Say: Your Branding Statement

If you had a billboard on a well-traveled highway, what would it tell drivers passing by? Remember, these drivers are focusing on the road, talking to their passengers, and changing the radio station. Hiring executives devote roughly the same attention and time to your resume, so write a brief, well-branded paragraph about the expertise and talent you bring to the role.

5. Experience is the Teacher of All Things: Your Executive Experience

For a deep discussion of resume bullets and accomplishments, read about The Difference Between Resume Accomplishments and Duties.

6. “When I Think Back…”: Your Formal Education and Professional Training

Your education supports your entire career history, so describe it well. Read Education Goes Last on a Professional or Executive Resume for specifics on how to describe your educational history. If you are one of the many executives who never went to college, Resume Strategies for Executives Who Never Went to College will describe how to overcome this challenge in your resume.

7. Details, Details: Extras that Demonstrate You Are the Right Candidate

Some optional sections you might want to include in your executive resume can differentiate you from the crowd:

  • Board memberships
  • Volunteer positions
  • Publications
  • Conferences attended
  • Presentations
  • …and more.

Include these last if you have them.

 

Image courtesy of freeimages.com/Fanginhoon

3 Career Change Strategies for Former Entrepreneurs

3 Career Change Strategies for Former Entrepreneurs

As the economy fluctuates, many entrepreneurs consider their long careers and successes in the companies they built. We hear of high-tech leaders who built companies from their basements, and we hear of manufacturing leaders who built product suites appealing to the mass market. If you are an entrepreneur with a company that has potentially maxed it out its life cycle or that is about to be sold, you might be considering entering the paid workforce as an employee in another company. Read on for three career advancement strategies for former entrepreneurs that you can use right now to build a smart plan for your career transition.

1. Define your network.

Of course, as an entrepreneur, you know lots of people. You meet them in business meetings, in your Chamber of Commerce, through friends, and through friends of friends. However, have you ever approach any of them with critical business questions? It is even less likely that you have approached this network with questions about your own career advancement. Now is the time to revive old relationships. Building out the number of people on whom you can call to ask about opportunities in other industries or other companies is going to be an essential if difficult part of this process.

2. Assess your own skill set.

As an entrepreneur, you likely wear many hats. Depending on the type of fire you are putting out, you might be CFO, CEO, or CIO on any given day. You might also be sales executive, human resources executive, or the guy who has to run to the hardware store to pick up a new light switch. Other entrepreneurs would sympathize with how thinly you have been stretched. They would also understand that you might find it hard to identify the skills you want to build on in a new role. Thus, it would be wise for you to take an hour or two and inventory what you love about your job, what you hate about it, and where your skills fit in to what you want to be doing next. If you have no idea where your assets might be of value in a corporate environment, now is the time to speak with an expert, such as an executive career consultant, who can help you make that determination.

3. Prepare your resume and career portfolio.

If you know exactly what you want to be doing in a new company, now is the time to have your executive resume prepared. (If you are still in decision-making mode, go back to number 2 on this list. Preparing yourself for a new career but taking the steps out of order will result only in your mounting frustration.) If you have done the research, then you know what goes into writing a resume for a former entrepreneur that resonates with hiring executives in the current market. You’ll know how to enhance your marketability to somebody who is scanning your document in perhaps 20 seconds or less. You can find many resources in the library or on the Internet that will explain how to write, organize, and design the modern executive resume. At the same time, do not neglect to prepare an effective LinkedIn profile that will get you found by the hiring executives and recruiters who are looking for experts like yourself. For certain, if you find the resume and career portfolio writing process daunting, as many executives in your situation do, then engaging a career management consultant who knows how to do this might be a wise choice for you.

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”

Including an Objective Statement: The Resume Killer

In an earlier post about resume mistakes, I mentioned that including an objective in your professional resume is a kiss of death. Hiring managers do not know you, do not care about you, and do not want to know you. So writing anything that starts with “I want” is going to kill your nascent relationship with the hiring manager, who does not care that you like people, communicate well, or want to increase your responsibilities.

Your job is to make hiring managers want to read your professional resume and learn something special about you. They want to know what makes you different and what makes you the right one for the job.

You can make that happen with by nixing the objective statement and overhauling your resume with a branding statement that blows your reader away. Remember, all hiring managers are hoping that the resume they are reading now is owned by their next great hire. All you have to do is convince them that you are the right one and make them want to pick up the phone and dial your cell.

Does this sound intimidating?

Write for Your Audience While Writing about You

The easiest solution to the problem of why an objective statement is the worst opener for a great resume begins with your sitting down with yourself and asking yourself what makes you great.

Your answers to that very general question must be very specific. They have to address your specific history and your specific abilities and skills. Some examples of these answers can include the following.

  • You drive $X revenue per year
  • You manage distributed teams for a global company
  • You have the reputation of being the go-to expert on some critical industry topic
  • You find revenue when the economy is down by increasing wallet share
  • You build operations departments for car dealerships in the deep south where the organizational silos divide every employee into either “parts” or “service.”

What You Have to Do Now

Of course, these are only examples. You can’t copy these for your own resume. Why not? Because these are made-up examples. They refer to nobody in particular, certainly not you. A famous person once said that the right answer is usually the most difficult, costly, and frustrating.

You have to pick up a pencil and pad and start to brainstorm about what makes you great. That is the only answer. But when you finally have that answer, and you are confident that the words represent you the way you want to portray your brand of excellence, you will start to notice something remarkable that might not have happened before.

Your phone will start to ring.

Your professional resume will start to get you those interviews you have been after, because you are starting to show the value that you offer to a hiring manager. You will show in your professional resume that you have done A, B, and C before, and you are likely to be able to achieve those types of results again.

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

Top 5 Resume Mistakes That Say “Don’t Hire Me”

Top 5 Resume Mistakes That Say “Don’t Hire Me”

Including an Objective Statement

Your professional resume is all about you, right? Therefore, your objective is all about you, too. However, you’re sending your professional resume to a hiring manager—you’re not reading it to yourself in the echo chamber. And guess who the hiring manager wants to think most about? Himself (or herself). Not you.

Here’s my answer: Including an Objective Statement: The Resume Killer.

Telling the Hiring Manager that You Were “Responsible”

When I see the word “responsible” on a resume, I often chuckle to myself that this has to be a copy-and-paste from an HR job description. Human Resources always wants employees to be “responsible” for some task or solution. However, we never know if the job applicant’s resume indicates that the job seeker was merely responsible for something. Did that professional actually do something? Or was that person simply “responsible” for it, never getting around to achieving it.

Here’s my answer: Your Professional Resume Shows Your Authority—and Builds Great Resume SEO

Putting Your Education before Your Experience

Sometimes, I see executive resumes, or even resumes of experienced professionals, that include decades-old college education in the first line or two of the resume. Clearly, these job seekers must not think much of their professional experience or executive leadership. Why else would they focus on what most hiring leaders would consider a given?

Here’s my answer: Education Goes Last on a Professional or Executive Resume

Including Your High School Diploma

When your Salt Lake City professional resume promotes your high school education, you’re wasting valuable space on your resume. If you have at least one job after high school, any college education at all, or some post-high school technical training, your hiring manager is assuming that you have attended high school. What if you didn’t graduate high school? I’ve written executive resumes in Salt Lake City for senior vice presidents who did not finish high school, or who have obtained their GEDs. Your chances of success aren’t limited by your lack of education—in some cases, going straight to work shows an incredible work ethic. Either way, we don’t need to know about your high school education.

Here’s my answer: Resume Strategies for Executives Who Never Went to College

Poor Resume Design that Makes Your Executive Resume Unreadable

Ever try to read the fine print on a 30-second TV commercial? It’s impossible, because the advertiser typically does not want you to read the fine print. So why would you send a resume in to a hiring manager in 8-point type? Other common blunders include using resume bullet points that are really paragraphs, and paragraphs that should be broken into three paragraphs.

Here’s my answer: Five Easy Steps to Executive Resume Readability

Bonus Mistake #6: Pink Ink and Red Paper

Once, as a child, I wrote my grandmother a letter. In childish handwriting, I scrawled red letters across pink paper. She immediately called me and told me never to use red ink on pink paper, because it was completely unreadable. The same holds true for your professional resume: Do not use red ink (or blue ink, or brown ink, or yellow ink), and do not use pink paper (or blue paper, or green paper). Stick to basic black ink and basic white, cream, or gray paper.