Have you ever heard the phrase, “Learn the rules so you can break them effectively?”
This should be a mantra which every senior executive takes to heart when pursuing new opportunities. Especially when it comes to their resume.
Older executives can get away with much more than your standard jobseeker. And indeed, when we’re talking about the prime opportunities, the ones which one along very rarely and will be hotly fought over, know this: disruption isn’t just useful. It’s essential.
Consider using these 3 resume power moves to get an edge:
1) ELIMINATE JOB RESPONSIBILITIES.
Has there ever been an executive who has been hired by a company simply because he or she can do everything outlined within a job description? At the senior executive level only one thing really matters:
“How did you move the needle?”
This should be the focus of your resume, not an endless rehashing of responsibilities at every job you’ve held.
Use the following structure:
-Start with 1-2 lines that crystallize how you moved the needle at a particular position. This is the SCOPE of what you’ve accomplished. Here’s an example:
Developed a single global quality and compliance group out of 4 separate business units, established and drove attainment of an aggressive 5-year plan (with KPIs), and brought data analytics and efficient new technologies into play.
-Next, include bullet points that point to SUCCESSES which lend greater depth and context to the SCOPE of what you did. Keep in mind that metrics are great, but by no means a must-have. At the senior executive level, it’s understood that many of your biggest wins may be strategic or cultural, and not easy to tie down to concrete numbers.
Here are 2 examples:
- Achieved YOY growth in product sales between 12-26% for Delphi cloud-based diagnostics platform through successfully tailoring marketing and promotion efforts in accordance with the specific needs of U.S and Asia-Pacific markets, while simultaneously guiding teams in entering the European market.
- Offered tactical PR guidance and leadership in the face of national product pricing scrutiny, clearly communicating the values and priorities of PHARMA COMPANY X, as well as honestly addressing concerns and criticism through open forums, within a highly charged environment.
2) USE A CUSTOM RESUME STRUCTURE.
The more you’ve accomplished in your career, the more liberties you can take in terms of how you present it on your resume. Not only will a preferential structure help bring your strongest attributes to the forefront, but it can also help you minimize the visibility (and impact) of potential “red flags” in your work history.
–Instead of starting the resume with a generalized “Objective” or “Summary” section, create 2-3 powerful bullet points that highlight the unique PAIN you solve. What’s the vision and perspective that you bring to the table? Give readers a powerful answer to the question, “Why you?” right at the start, and your entire resume will benefit as a result.
–Avoid the temptation to “keyword stuff” your resume- Applicant Tracking Systems have become much more sophisticated in recent years in terms of parsing for specific ideas within a candidate’s resume, which makes these types of tactics moot. Instead, study the Linkedin Profiles of your competitors, especially the “Featured Skills and Endorsements” section, and cherry-pick the most common and important ones that you possess to include within your resume. Create a standalone “Core Competencies” or similar section and add it after the opening bullet points described above.
-If the types of roles you’ve had in your career have varied widely, consider splitting up the “Professional Experience” section into multiple standalone sections. For example, if you’re a healthcare executive with a deep background as a practicing physician, then it may be helpful to have an “Executive Experience” section and a “Medical Practice Experience” section so that you can separate, and more effectively highlight relevant experience instead of jumbling things up. Similarly, if you’re worried that the number of consulting gigs you’ve taken on are distracting from longer-term positions, why not have a separate “Consulting Experience” section where you consolidate all of this information?
3) SHOW THE UNEXPECTED.
The greatest advantage you have as an older executive is that you can see the non-obvious, and pull on deep wisdom to make progress in unexpected areas. It’s what sets you apart from every young and ambitious upstart out there, so leverage it within the resume. Talk about the program you developed from scratch. Talk about how you were able to bring the insights of high-volume manufacturing to bear at a startup. Talk about the ways in which you went completely against the grain, and the reason the people you lead tend to rise higher, and faster, with you as their go-to. It’s time to stop hiding what makes you special, and promote it instead.