How do you do that? By following these steps, says Lissa Weimelt, an executive recruiter and President of Minnesota-based Search Pro Services, a retained search firm for managerial to executive positions. There are a number of things Weimelt looks for in an executive resume, and these two stand out:
1. What problem did they identify (or were they brought in to fix) in their company and what was the direct outcome of the action they took to specifically address that shortfall?
It could be new customer development, cutting expenses, initiating new product lines, you name it. It has to be more than just initiating a program. Then, what were two or three major achievements out of that key area they drove, related to bottom line?
2. What leadership skills did they showcase in that role? Did it include recruitment of new talent, retention of key individuals, growth/investment/training in current employees? Did they leave the company in a position more secure/successful than it was before?
And, how did they motivate the team around them? What was their style, and what results did they gain from the direct use of that style?
"It speaks to what is important to them," says Weimelt. "Words like team player or motivator mean nothing. I want to see an example of that on the resume that says someone other than them is important."
What are five things an executive resume needs to stand out?
1. They need a good executive summary at the beginning. It must include skills sets for keyword searches as many HR professionals who read resumes are not skilled in assessing or understanding talent at this level.
"I like it in plain language, broken down into leadership, financial, operations, marketing - use categories that relate to what is needed from an executive leader," says Weimelt.
2. It must address their leadership style - use an example if possible.
3. It must address challenges they faced and how they met or, just as importantly, did not meet those challenges.
4. It must address major accomplishments on each significant job, using an example and the result/success of that accomplishment.
5. It must be in plain language that does not put the recruiter to sleep. No more than 2 pages no matter what. A resume is not a career biography, it’s a marketing tool that quickly shows the next employer you have the skills to match their needs.
Remember, the resume doesn't guarantee you get hired, but it does prevent you from getting hired. How so? Keep this in mind:
"A good resume gives an executive talking points for an interview, or to use when networking with a recruiter," says Weimelt. "It does not communicate their entire life story. When I meet with executives, I ask them to give me a five minute presentation of their background. Most cannot do it, and many want to take 20-plus minutes if I do not interrupt them. Most HR folks spend no more than 3-4 minutes reading a resume. So, they need to hear that in order to be able to condense their career experience, strengths and value into salient points. Dividing their background into topic areas as in a above helps them frame around skill sets, and then devise interesting and pertinent stories around that for the interview."
Weimelt discusses the role a resume plays. A good resume can help lead to a good interview, because a lot of the resume is based off what's on the resume. A poor resume can result in a poor interview and the executive not showcasing their talents – selling themselves short - because the recruiter may not have good points to expand on. They want to talk about your results.
"A good resume helps a poor interviewer interview better, stay on target, and gives them a roadmap to talk about the right things in their background,” says Weimelt. “For a poor interviewer, or worse yet, a long-winded interviewer, a resume is like a good Garmin. It gets you to where you want to go without getting lost along the way."
A resume is also the chance to highlight some of your personality and soft skills - all important aspects companies seek in a leader.
"An executive resume should reflect something personal that the interviewer can pick up on," says Weimelt. "Your personality, what is important to you, what you value, what you are proud of, who you are and what people think and more importantly, feel, about you. Those features help an executive stand out from the crowd, humanize them instead of just a list of degrees, accomplishments and verbiage that everyone else has. You can put those things under a category called “Personal Statement” or something like that, or embed them along the way in the resume, which I like better. I once had a client who had two jobs that were grueling. We put language in his that defined his lessons learned. He got a great job after four interviews in a down market. I thought it was very brave of him, as it told about his personality, leadership style, sense of humor and showed his human side. He also had many accomplishments, but his lessons learned made a much greater impact."
You've made an impact as an executive, now show that in your executive resume.
To do just that, hire executive resume writer Matt Krumrie to write your resume, one that will show the next employer just how you can lead them to success.