When writing your executive resume, you always want to create a masterful document that hiring managers and recruiters won’t forget. But of course, having an unforgettable resume could be good or bad depending on the content included. How do you write an executive resume that stands out for the right reasons?
What will make your resume stand out for the right reasons is relevant, engaging information about your qualifications, work history, and achievements. So what will make your resume stand out for the wrong reasons? Easily avoidable mistakes, unprofessionalism, and things like obviously using a resume template can all make your resume the topic of conversation among human resources staff for the wrong reasons.
When writing your resume, your job is to create something that will make a recruiter, manager, or prospective employer say, “I will never forget that amazing resume!” instead of, “I regret to say that I will never forget such a horrible resume.”
For many people, no matter how good a writer they are, resume writing can be tough. Hiring trends change, expectations and norms may differ from industry to industry, and it can simply be difficult to talk about yourself in such a seemingly bragging way. However, there are some resume writing dos and don’ts that can help you keep your resume amazingly unforgettable, rather than embarrassingly memorable.
To write a resume that is unforgettable for the right reasons, follow these tips:
Always Make Sure It’s Professional
At the executive level, suffering from unprofessionalism is usually not an issue you run into—that is, unless you’re unaware that your career documents are sending an unprofessional message. For instance, failing to thoroughly proofread your cover letter or resume is a common mistake, but it is one of the most unprofessional messages you could send when you’re trying to move up in your executive career.
You’ve probably received this advice before, but always edit—and edit some more. Then have someone else review your resume to ensure there is absolutely no mistake to be found. I cannot emphasize this enough. Even a seemingly small error can make you seem sloppy. Proofread, edit, proofread again. This will help you avoid being one of the resume writers whose errors are an unfortunate topic of discussion at the water cooler.
Failing to tailor your resume can also be an easy way to come across as unprofessional. A resume that does not address a company’s unique needs, or a cover letter that is obviously a form letter and addressed to “Whom It May Concern” show that you put little effort into your application. Ditto for using resume templates where you just fill in the blank with your previous work titles, work responsibilities, and dates of your employment history. Certainly you can look through resume templates and sample resumes for inspiration, but to come across as professional, you always need to go that extra step to show a company that you are thinking about what they need and how your skill set fits their needs, not just considering your own career objectives. That extra step shows that you are willing to put in the extra work to be impressive, whether on your resume or in a presentation to clients.
As for a professional format, be aware of the font size and font style you are using. In some industries, you may have more liberty to be creative, perhaps even submit an infographic resume, but overall it’s a good idea to stick to professional, easily readable fonts in a format with a decent amount of white space. Keep the format organized—a resume with a messy format immediately comes across as unprofessional before a hiring manager even has the chance to read a word of it.
Always Create a Good Executive Resume You Can Be Proud of
You may learn about a C-level executive position and realize that you only have one day to write a resume and submit an application. There’s no doubt that between creating a resume and submitting an application, the process can be time-consuming. You might not be able to write the perfect resume, carefully selecting each word and tailoring your resume for every specification, but you can still create a good resume. Do not be tempted to haphazardly throw together a resume that is just a boring list of work experience and skills because you are hearing about opportunities at the last minute. And absolutely do not skip proofreading because you are writing a resume at the last minute.
There is never an excuse for not giving your greatest effort when drafting a professional resume. Not just because a hiring manager could consider it regrettably unforgettable, but because you want to be seriously considered for the executive position. So take time to research the company, lure them in with that attention-grabbing job target or executive summary, then ensure that you are using persuasive writing to create compelling descriptions of your relevant experience. Using action verbs, describe how your relevant skills, strengths, and accomplishments align perfectly with the position’s requirements to increase your chances of being one of the applicants that gets called for an interview. If you’re applying in a crunch and don’t have time to write a perfect resume, it is always better to write a resume that is good than a resume that will make a hiring manager shake their head and laugh.
Draft a Master Executive Resume That Covers Your Whole Career
If you’re worried that your time won’t allow you to work on resumes as thoroughly as you would like when positions come up, consider creating a master resume. Writing a resume like this provides you with an organizational tool that allows you to list all of your qualifications, education, duties and responsibilities, work history, strengths, accomplishments, achievements, etc., from your entire career in one place. This way, when you go to write a resume tailored to a specific job or industry, you can pull wording and information like your years of experience from the master resume and more easily tailor each resume that you’re going to send to companies, especially when you are in the position of writing a resume in a crunch to comply with the deadlines of an application process.
With a master resume, the resume format and resume layout shouldn’t matter as much because you won’t be sending this resume to potential employers or executive search firms. Instead, it’s for your use—a bank of information and wording about your experience in a format that works for you to easily pull information from and put into a proper resume format for submission. You don’t have to worry about finessing the resume layout to create a one-page resume, or whether you are making it a chronological resume or functional resume. Instead, you’re just getting down the crucial information and wording ideas about your skills, accomplishments, etc. By putting the work into getting the vital information onto a master resume, you won’t have to spend as much time hemming and hawing over how many years you actually did work somewhere, or what your major accomplishments were in a position. Instead, you can copy, paste, reword a bit, and voila—save yourself some time.
The last thing you want to do is send—and then regret sending—a professional resume that borders on being laughable. Impressions mean everything at your level, and you don’t want something as unfortunate as an unprofessional resume to hurt your brand and derail you from your career path. Your cover letter and professional resume are your first impression with potential employers in most cases. Keep working to perfect your resume in between submissions so that the resume you do send out is nothing less than amazingly unforgettable.
If you’re interested in hiring an executive resume writing service to help you achieve your career goals, the Great Resumes Fast team would be happy to work with you. We have a team of professional resume writers with extensive experience in writing executive resumes ready to create an amazingly unforgettable executive resume to help you impress prospective employers. Learn more about our writing services here. You can also see sample resumes to get an idea of our work at this link.
Are you tired of sending your resume to potential employer after potential employer only to have it be rejected by applicant tracking systems? I know how frustrating it is to submit your resume and cover letter and receive no response. I hate seeing qualified people never break through the screening process. It shouldn’t be that way. That’s why I created this guide and I encourage you to download the FREE PDF so you can start seeing better resume response rates!
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About the author
Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast
Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.
What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.
You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!
I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!
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