Smart leaders are prepared to discuss new opportunities at any time. Yet when we are asked to submit our resumes for circulation with the executive team, our career documents may cause us to hesitate.
Today, executives are competing globally for opportunities that were once only locally available.
Additionally, new skills-based hiring and keyword practices makes it challenging for even the most accomplished execs to distinguish themselves in resumes. While artificial intelligence may have helped us summarize and articulate responsibilities, this too has rapidly become the status quo. Simply put: we can’t rely on practices that worked the last time we discussed a new role.
So what can executives do to their resumes to stand out in a category of one? Try this best-practice:
Show, don’t tell. When we tell what we can do, we use job-description narratives. We list responsibilities, functions, assignments, or actions. While it’s necessary to use responsibility-related keywords, they are not remarkable.
Think of it this way: AI generated statements and skills-based keywords are wonderful ways of telling what we can do. But these are merely leading indicators that describe our potential. Because they are not specific to our actual experience, we are competing with anyone else who has also had those responsibilities.
When we show what we can do, we give the results. We talk about the lag measures; what happens after executing our responsibilities. Our competitive advantage is in our outcomes: the top-line results we’ve achieved, NPS, bottom-line savings, employee retention, etc. Rarely do two executives achieve the same results.
If you want to impress when your next opportunity taps you on the shoulder, consider these five ways to improve your resume right now:
Show, Don’t Tell
Show me you can do your job without telling me you can do your job. How to do it: Remove all statements that start with “responsible for,” “participated in,” “helped with,” “involved in,” “assisted with,” etc. Then restate those as results.
Declare Key Accomplishments
Key accomplishments are the stories you would want to tell at an event or interview. How to do it: Write down the initiatives you are most proud of across your career. Narrow it down to the top five. Add these as bullet-points to the top of your resume to ensure your profile stands out.
Quantify and Qualify
It is absolutely necessary to calculate and claim what we’ve done in order to be remarkable. How to do it: Pull your data from past performance reviews, annual reports, CRM dashboards, KPIs, annual strategic plans. The numbers and categories are there. If some of the data cannot be shared publicly, use an approximate or a percentage.
Commit to Breathing Room
Not every data point deserves space on our resume. A resume is a document that opens up a conversation. Having a succinct, strategic document that shows our acumen is far more effective than a lengthy CV. How to do it: Confine yourself to two pages. Use regular margins and 11 point font. Challenge every bullet with questions like: So what? Why should anyone care? If you can’t justify the information, remove it or reposition it.
Don’t Bury the Lead
Think of the “lead” as the headline, summarizing the most important aspects of our story. Specifically: “get to the point.” How to do it: Start bullets with an action verb and a data point. Don’t hide the most important information deep within a sentence. Data immediately grabs the reader’s attention and simultaneously conveys your achievements.
Be ready for your next shoulder tap. Don’t let skills-based hiring, and AI-driven keywords limit your competitive positioning for your next executive role. If you want to stand out, show (don’t tell) what you are capable of. When you compete based on your results, you set yourself apart in a category of one.
Kate Wade, CEO of Get Her Hired, is a Certified Executive Coach and Global Executive
Résumé + CV Writer. Kate is on a mission to get 10,000 women into the executive positions in which they belong. Her promise: scroll-stopping résumés and CVs. Having sat at the tables where the C-Level decisions are made, she knows first-hand what it takes to prepare, network, “apply,” interview and attain top levels of leadership in the world’s largest enterprises.
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