Great Resumes Fast » Resume Writing Tips » Why Writing Your Executive Resume Is Difficult – And What You Can Do About It

Trying to get your job search off to a strong start – but hampered by the resume writing process? Are you finding it challenging to sum up the reasons you should be considered over others for a leadership role?

If so, you have plenty of company, especially if your career is at the executive or senior professional level. Many leaders discover that it’s easier to actually drive change, improve company operations, or transform revenue performance than it is for them to write about it.

Here are 3 main reasons that resume writing can seem like an massive chore in your job hunt—along with some ways to make the process easier:

1 – You’re too close to the subject.

Most executive leaders and skilled professionals are subject matter experts in all types of leadership competencies, from strategic planning to team delegation.

However, when asked to describe their strengths, most of them will resort to tactical or skills-based descriptions, rather than illustrating the ways in which they add strategic value.

The reason? Being on the front lines is a much different experience than explaining what your career has meant to your employers. You’re naturally good at what you do, but telling your story requires a higher level of strategic analysis—a process that most executives and senior-level professionals don’t think to undertake for themselves.

To help with the process of writing about yourself, try asking others about your achievements and executive contributions. What do they see as your most valuable accomplishments and proficiencies?

What compliments do you receive on your work? You’ll find that the impression others have of you is critical, as it can give you a valuable, and perhaps different, perspective of your leadership career (useful for framing the contents of your resume).

2 – Marketing copy isn’t your strong suit.

Most COOs spend their time ensuring that costs are reined in and that the company’s infrastructure will support growth, while sales managers are assessing the competition, CEOs are busy forming strategic forecasts, accountants are closing the books, IT Managers are negotiating with vendors, and CIOs are dealing with the rising costs of technology.

Of course, these activities leave precious little time to become well-versed in marketing!

Even if marketing campaigns are part of your leadership role, you’ll still find that it’s much harder to create promotional copy when the product is YOU. Often, it’s easier to describe your skills verbally than it is to write about yourself.

Consider looking at executive or professional resume examples, which are readily available online, to get an idea of the marketing style that appeals to employers in today’s job market. How does yours stack up?

In particular, you’ll want to look for these elements in each sample resume:

-Summary section wording, where a short list of executive competencies and personality description often serves as a powerful introduction

-Achievement sentence structure that shows how to condense complex success stories

-Document design, where you can observe how white space is used to separate jobs and sections

3 – You haven’t developed a personal brand message.

As with any type of promotion, branding is a key element of marketing. When it comes to job search, your personal brand is basically the value proposition and reputation that you’ve forged throughout your executive career.

Even if you’re in touch with what this value means to your next employer, it’s difficult to articulate it for yourself and maintain a focus on your top brand values.

A great way to bring out your personal brand message is to contact colleagues or others in your network to get an idea of your market value:

-What strengths did you bring to the company in your last job?

-What were the key reasons for your past promotions?

-How did your professional reputation stack up against others with your job title?

Getting answers to these questions can give you some ideas to weave throughout the content in your executive resume, as it’s important to demonstrate how others have counted on your leadership for results in past roles.

In summary, writing a leadership resume can seem like the most challenging part of your job search, but don’t give up!

Instead, leverage others’ input and investigate current resume styles to create a document that truly reflects your brand and captures employer interest.

Guest Post by: Executive resume writer Laura Smith-Proulx is an award-winning Executive Resume Writer and former recruiter with a 98% success rate opening doors to prestigious jobs through personal branding. The Executive Director of An Expert Resume, she partners exclusively with CIO, CTO, COO, CEO, CFO, SVP, VP, and Director candidates.

For additional tips and advice on resumes and cover letters, follow @GreatResume or visit our blog.


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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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