The beginning of a new year brings its share of excitement, anticipation and hope for everyone. For those of you who will be embarking on an executive job search, the New Year really symbolizes the opportunity for a new beginning.
But before you start reaching out to your personal contacts, friends, and recruiters, make sure that you have the right tools. If you have not conducted a serious job search in more than five years, you’ll be surprised by how much the job search has changed. Competition for the best paying jobs is intense, and you will need to represent yourself distinctively on paper.
Where to begin? For starters, you need to secure a well-written, branded executive resume -- that is the first document that every recruiter and hiring manager will request from you. If you’re making a significant career move into a whole new industry or functional area, you’ll need a serious resume makeover; a strong marketing document that maximizes your past achievements and reinvents you for a whole, new career.
Before you dive into a resume-writing frenzy, do your homework. Visit comprehensive websites like TheLadders.com to review current executive jobs in your target areas. Take a close look at about five to ten opportunities and identify the required qualifications, experience, and expertise; use that information along with the following techniques to develop your new executive resume.
Step 1: Develop Your Personal Brand Statement
Understanding your personal brand helps you to market yourself effectively to key decision makers. For executive career changers, a strong personal brand gives you an opportunity to link your personal strengths and unique value to your target position.
Combine your personal branding statement with a title header on your executive resume -- this strategy helps you to clearly communicate who you are, your differentiating strengths, and your immediate benefits to employers.
For example, a senior marketing executive who has consistently grown companies can have a branding statement that reads like this:
SENIOR MARKETING EXECUTIVE
Delivering Unprecedented Revenue & Market Performance for Companies in Competitive, Evolving Industries
Step 2: Position Yourself as an "Insider" not an "Outsider
Conducting extensive research on your target positions will equip you with valuable keywords, industry jargon, and relevant "insider" language to incorporate in your resume. Develop a memorable executive summary that includes the same language. Here’s an excerpt from a senior financial manager’s resume, targeting non-profit management positions - this excerpt below was used in her executive summary.
Forward-thinking, innovative finance professional offering 15+ years’ experience delivering bottom-line impacting accomplishments for corporate and non-profit organizations through effective strategic marketing, new business development, and relationship building. Extensive knowledge and proven success in securing corporate funding and sponsorships. Articulate leader able to solicit support from key executives, government officials, and community leaders.
Step 3: Only Use Relevant, Transferable Skills and Experience
When writing your new executive resume, avoid filling your resume with experience that would make you appear unqualified for the position. If possible, keep your executive experience in chronological order, but only emphasize the job responsibilities, achievements, and experience that are directly relevant to your new job target. It is quite acceptable to leave out tasks or responsibilities that are unrelated. For example, a senior federal employee looking to transition into a human resource management position will only highlight his experience in that area:
2005-present: Assistant Special Agent in Charge at the Washington Division responsible for leading drug enforcement activities in northern Virginia. Manage all Division administration, budget allocations, and various high profile programs i.e. (Recruitment, Training, and Demand Reduction).
Assistant Special Agent-In-Charge, Washington, DC (2005 to present)Direct division administration, budget allocations, and oversee high profile programs including recruitment, personnel training, demand reduction and division special projects for the Washington Division. Created and developed "first-ever" division leadership program that promotes mentoring and hands-on experience/insight to executive management activities.
- Human Resource Management: Pioneered complete turnaround in office morale and division productivity by instituting year-long training in financial management and general administration.
- Program Management: Revitalized recruitment program by assessing program effectiveness and creating increased momentum for achieving annual goals.
- Program Development: Conceived and coordinated new leadership program to advance leadership opportunities for senior-level employees.
Step 4: Extract Achievements and Testimonials from Your Performance Reviews
If you have not updated or created a new executive resume in a very long time, you may be guilty of overlooking significant achievements. Annual performance reviews provide credible, unbiased details about your contributions and impact to company growth; they also serve as an excellent resource for third-party testimonials.
Excerpt from annual review used as testimonial:
Brian was the catalyst to the growth and enrichment of the e-commerce offering at the Technology Company. He is truly a strategic thinker who can ascertain the business challenge and deliver a high quality, technology-driven solution.
Excerpt from annual review translated into achievement:
Conceptualized new e-commerce products that propelled annual revenues from $15 million to $100 million in one year.
Step 5: Make All Your Experiences Work for You
Paid or unpaid, industry experience is still valuable and transferable for career changes. If you have been involved in substantial volunteer or community work, use these resources to highlight/validate your leadership skills and experience in your new target area. Take a look at this example of unpaid marketing experience, which can make a powerful statement on your executive resume.
Volunteer, International Dance Group, Inc.
Volunteer, Alexandria School of Dance.
MARKETING & PUBLIC RELATIONS EXPERIENCE
Director of Marketing, International Dance Group, Inc. (2002 to 2007)
Work closely with executive team and marketing staff to develop strategic marketing plan for dance production company. Enhance company image through unique promotional programs and advertising initiatives. Volunteer position for five consecutive years.
Marketing Manager, Alexandria School of Dance (2000 to 2005)
Planned and executed advertising production, marketing materials, public relations programs, and other special projects for start-up dance school. Generate creative marketing tactics targeting potential customers and event sponsors. Contributed talents and expertise on non-paid basis.
Overall, preparing a new resume is never an easy task, especially if you haven’t done a one in a long time. Don’t overwhelm yourself with the entire process - start by working on one section at a time before pulling it all together.
Abby M. Locke, president of Premier Writing Solutions, is a Certified Executive Resume-Writer and Personal Brand Strategist who helps senior-level professionals and C-level executives achieve personal success with customized, branded executive resumes and career marketing documents. Her resume samples have been published in Nail the Resume! Great Tips for Creating Dynamic Resumes and Same-Day Resumes.