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The executive resumé makeover: Ways to highlight your leadership story

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The executive resumé makeover: Ways to highlight your leadership story

It’s the age of LinkedIn and AI. You might ask: do we still need a resumé? The surprising answer is “Yes”. While your LinkedIn profile is great, it cannot take the place of a document that clearly highlights your career accomplishments and potential. At the same time, the best resumés should not be laundry lists of accomplished tasks, but ones that tell the story about who you are as a strong leader.

Here are three tips to help ensure your executive resumé fully reflects your leadership profile.

1 It’s not just a resumé: It’s your leadership story Don’t just refresh. When updating their resumés, most people just update and add whatever they have done since the document was last saved. Instead, start at the beginning and write down every leadership activity you can think of. The resumé should definitely include anything that left an impact or defined you as a leader.

If you are using a cover letter, add value to it. Instead of a long-drawn narrative, make it short, punchy and data-oriented. The first section that meets the eye is the top one-third of your resumé or cover letter. Start with a compelling introductory statement. Follow it up with a bullet-point summary that is clearly laid out and makes the hiring manager want to know more.

Research keywords common in your industry and the position you are applying for. And add them to your resumé. In today’s digital age, keywords are screened and captured by the ATS, i.e. an automated Applicant Tracking System, used by employers to scan and rank job applications they receive for open positions. Using the right keywords in your resumé can enhance your search rankings and place you in front of anyone searching for your specific experience.

2 Showcase your preparedness: The leadership resumé is one that strikes just the right balance of experience and the important accomplishments, especially your ability to serve as a leader. The goal is to convey not only your expertise, but indicate your potential to succeed in the next role.

Highlight the most relevant and impactful items first, and then add in other accomplishments. Remember that an executive recruiter is first trying to establish whether you can do a specific job. And then, he or she is trying to figure out if you have leadership potential.

3 Paint the full picture of your leadership experience: At the executive level, it makes sense to include evidence of soft skills. Strong human relations skills that enable you to productively interact with others can set you apart. You can also provide evidence of previous executive accomplishments. One way to do this is to quantify it with measurable results. Instead of just listing job functions, strengthen your narrative with real statistics.

And lastly, it pays to be more elaborate when it comes to listing an accomplishment.

Why cut it short by just saying:

• Revamped the management team with a new strategic plan

When you can be a little more elaborate:
• Revamped the management team with a new strategic plan
• Aligned with HR to develop new performance metrics
• Achieved double-digit improvements in engagement
• Increased annual employee retention by over 20 per cent

As you can see, any recruiter will definitely want to go with the second candidate. Whatever the context of the situation, clearly articulate the steps you took to deliver an outcome. This helps the hiring managers understand what you can do for them.

In summary, the process of updating your resumé can be just as important as the end product. This is the time to take inventory of your career. Updating your resumé offers an opportunity to reflect on what you’ve learned and accomplished in the recent past — and, more importantly, what makes your leadership story unique.

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