For most people, resume writing is no fun. But it’s still the most powerful marketing tool you have to distinguish yourself when you’re ready for a new opportunity.
Having an impressive executive summary is one of the most important parts of your resume, but can also be the most difficult to create.
This week Laura and Kate interview Teena Rose, the founder of Resume to Referral, a resume writing and career coaching service for senior-level professionals.
Teena’s been working with top-tier executives and managers, former military officers, and other organizational leaders for nearly two decades—helping them land their dream jobs in some of America’s most prominent companies. She’s also the author of a number of career e-books and an award-winning blog on career search.
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Richer Life Lab Podcast show quote
“You can’t sell anything if you can’t tell anything.” – Beth Comstock, President of Business Innovations at GE and one of Forbes 100 most powerful women
Resume Writing and the Executive Summary
The job search process has changed so much over the last decade. Things like social media, mobile job search apps, niche recruiting platforms – these things really didn’t exist for job seekers 10 years ago. But resumes and CVs (curriculum vitae) are still alive and well because most employers still want to see one.
Here are tips from our interview with Teena about how to approach resume writing and your and executive summary so you stand out from the crowd:
Tip #1: Don’t use boring language
If there are flat or generic phases you’ve heard or seen on other resumes like, “out-of-the-box-thinker” or “team player” then stay away from them on your resume. To stand out, use more interesting language that really describes your top skills.
You want to look like an over-achiever compared to your competition, so don’t use vanilla statements that could apply to just about anyone.
Tip #2: Use the right tense
Speak about yourself in the third person, not the first person throughout your entire resume. For instance, say “A manager with 10 years of broad industry experience” instead of “I’ve been a manager with broad industry experience for 10 years.”
Tip #3: Use an easy-to-read format
If your resume isn’t easy to read, then it might end up at the bottom of the stack, even if you’re a great candidate. Consider altering the format for each section, such as a paragraph for your executive summary, a keyword list for skills, and then bullet points in the body.
Tip #4: Get visual
Today’s resumes can include visual elements like chart and graphs, when applicable to your achievements. So don’t forget that resume writing may also include content other than plain text.
Tip #5: Don’t use bad models
Be careful about using generic samples to write your resume because they may be bad examples to model.
Tip #6: Replace “Objective” with “Executive Summary”
An executive summary is a consolidation of your key skills and achievements in just a few sentences at the top of your resume. It should be keyword rich and heavy-hitting so you make a powerful impression right away.
Think about your executive summary as a quick snapshot of what’s most current and relevant about you. It might even include your personal branding statement, if you have one.
Tip #7: Brainstorm first
If you’re having trouble creating an executive summary, start with your “elevator pitch.” This is what you might say to someone you meet or have a quick elevator ride with that describes what you do in a few sentences.
Then brainstorm by creating 3 different lists:
- Your core skills
- Your main achievements
- Your characteristics that set you apart from the competition
Use these words and phrases as the foundation of your executive summary. Then fine tune it over a series of days by adding and subtracting content until it’s just right.
Tip #8: Work on your executive summary last
Even though your executive summary goes at the top of your resume, it’s easier to create last. Once you have the full scope of your experience on paper, you’ll have more content to draw from.
Tip #9: Get professional help
For most people, especially senior-level managers, you’re probably going to benefit from working with a professional resume writer. Having someone with an objective view of your experience and selling points can make the difference between getting passed over or getting the interview.
But do your homework first by identifying your professional achievements so you’re properly prepared to work with a resume writer so you get the most out of the relationship.
Richer Life Lab Podcast practical
This week’s Richer Life Lab practical is to brainstorm your core skills, achievements, and unique characteristics so you can create a fresh and relevant resume.
We want to hear about what’s working for you! Let us know if you have any resume writing tips that we can share with listeners in a future show.
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