Your resume is a Marketing Tool, and if you’re not marketing yourself in the right way you’re not going to attract the attention you want.

Some job seekers might never have had to ‘market’ themselves before, so it’s a bit of a brave new world – but it’s one you must get to grips with.

Here are 5 things which will guarantee that your resume will not end up on top of the pile.

#1 – Not Communicating Value

Writing an effective resume demands linguistic efficiency.

Every sentence must be impactful; must communicate your core value proposition. Every word must pull its weight.

You’d be surprised how many job seekers struggle with this. When faced with the challenge of writing their resume, many professionals simply resort to listing responsibilities and hoping for the best.

As I tend to say to my clients, don’t be vague – be impactful.

It comes back to the central function of your resume.

Its purpose is to differentiate, to communicate your unique value in a transferable way such that I can see what you could do for me.

If your resume reads like a job description, you’re not making a case for your own value so much as the value of your position.

Instead, the most effective resume frames your achievements in the context of your responsibilities.

For instance, instead of writing that you were responsible for leading monthly global stakeholder meetings’ write that you built thriving international supply chain by leading monthly global stakeholder meetings. Think [what you achieved] by doing [responsibility].

It’s also important to take ownership over your successes, so you look proactive rather than passive.

This is relatively simple: eliminate the passive voice wherever possible, and choose powerful action verbs.

The language you choose should be appropriate to your seniority.

#2 – Underselling your Achievements

You include achievements to back up the value statement you’re making.

They offer proof of your ability in given circumstances, building trust that you can deliver the same results for another company.

Maybe that sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people include achievements just because. Be selective over what you include, and aim for a good balance of achievements covering all the relevant competencies.

Recruiters and hiring managers look to your achievements to indicate your level.

If you’re not framing them in the right way, you risk looking less senior than you are.

At the senior level, your achievements should be much more strategic than operational, and should demonstrate leadership and high-level commercial oversight.

We’re not done there.

How you phrase your achievements is also critical. Blunt statement of fact is rarely the most impactful way to communicate. Instead, you’re looking to contextualise your achievement to make it meaningful to the reader.

For instance, Increased sales by 75% in Q3’ isn’t particularly meaningful. There are various ways to rethink this, but the key principle is contextualisation.

Tell me what you did to achieve that result and which challenges you overcame.

For example, Led division through national sales downturn through building key manufacturing partnerships and reimagining product line, increasing sales by 75% in Q3’.

#3 – Lacking Flair

Your resume shouldn’t just communicate your professional responsibilities and achievements: your value is more holistic than that.

Rather, a great executive resume should truly capture who you are; it should speak to your personality.

If it doesn’t, it’s failing to deliver to it’s full potential as a marketing tool.

That’s not to say that it should be drastically ‘out there’; in fact, it’s incredibly subtle (which makes it one of the most difficult things to get right).

It’s about the language you use, the order of the words, how your resume reads. Say I was working with two executives with an identical career background.

Their final resumes should be fundamentally different – because it should capture their unique personality.

From the moment a recruiter skims your resume, you’ve made an impression and every subsequent contact either builds on or subtracts from this initial impression.

If every impression you make is consistent with the first, you’re building a strong personal brand; if it’s not, you’re undermining yourself. In other words, if the impression a recruiter gets from your resume is the same impression they get meeting you then your brand is strong, consistent and authoritative.

That’s the importance of flair; your resume should convey accurately who you are, so you can build on that impression at interview.

#4 – Poor Design

Finding a new executive job is like playing monopoly – you have to pass through a certain number of squares in a sequential order if you want to proceed.

Well, before you even get onto the board you need a recruiter to pick up your resume and decide to read it more closely.

That’s where design comes in.

Good resume design won’t get you hired, but poor resume design can prevent you from getting hired. The more difficult or unappealing you make it for a recruiter to read your resume, the less likely it is that they will.

It’s the 30-second rule: you have 30 seconds to make an impact, or you’re going in the reject pile.

Recruiters should be able to immediately identify your point of value.

The impression you give should be professional. As obvious as it sounds, your formatting is critical: pick professional fonts, and ensure your resume is well spaced and clear.

Tiny font and tinier margins are intimidatingly unreadable and give the impression that you’re lazy, inept or thoughtless. None of which top the list of reasons to call.

Scanability is an important principle.

Recruiters need to be able to instantly ascertain your value, and including plenty of relevant keywords helps them do that.

It’s also important for SEO purposes, ensuring a recruiter plucks your resume from the ether in the first place.

#5 – Not Traversing The Gap

Before our team of resume writers even start writing your resume, they invest a significant portion of time in defining ‘the gap’.

This is the difference between where your resume is now, and where you need to it to be.

A mindset shift is helpful here.

Instead of thinking of your executive resume as backward-looking think of it as forward-looking; not a record of what you’ve done but an advert for what you’re going to do.

For that reason, the foundation of your executive resume should be a clear sense of direction.

You need to know which roles and companies you’re targeting so you can position your resume for those roles.

For instance, say you’re a Senior Marketing Manager and you’re hoping to step into a Marketing Director role.

Identify the gaps in your current profile and then bridge them by emphasising the appropriate responsibilities.

Oh, And One More Thing

The major takeaway should be that writing an executive resume isn’t a quick process. It takes time, effort and investment to ensure you’re positioning yourself in the right way.

Your resume is a forward-looking and highly targeted marketing tool; it’s personal branding collateral and should intelligently frame you in the commercial context of the roles you’re going for.

Done well, your resume will open doors for you and secure interviews; then it’s up to you to keep the momentum going.

Written By
Irene is an executive personal branding strategist who runs the global consultancy Arielle.

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