Why Your Executive Resume Needs To Step Up Its Game This Year

Executive Resumes
Why Your Executive Resume Needs To Step Up It's Game This Year

It’s no secret the job market is a tough one for executives this year.

Strangely, in the U.S., our unemployment level is the lowest it’s been in decades, and there are more job openings (8.5 mm) than unemployed people (6.5 mm). The economy is doing well, and the risk of inflation is down. People are spending more, personal income has increased, and overall, our finances look favorable. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans are earning 22% more than before the pandemic.

You’d think we’d be high-fiving each other. So, why does it feel so much harder to get a job? 

Turnover is decreasing

For one thing, employees are quitting less. Unlike the atmosphere after the pandemic when employees could have their job pick of the litter and quit at will, today’s employees are putting roots down and their focus is more on longevity. Job turnover is decreasing, and the number of open roles is decreasing as well. This makes the competition extra fierce.

Employers are more selective

There is also a longer hold time on hiring. According to Josh Bersin Research, the average time it took to hire someone rose from 40 days in 2019 to 44.5 in 2023. With cost-cutting measures in place, companies are more selective about who they hire. This means candidates go through many rounds of interviews before they are brought on board. I talked to one client who was on interview number 21—with the same company.

So, what should an executive job seeker do to set themselves apart from every other executive candidate looking at the same job?

Elevate your job search plan

The old way you searched for a job just won’t cut it anymore. Telling a few colleagues and then walking into the corner office or, at the very least, a larger-than-last-time cubicle isn’t as easy as it may have been in years past.

Now, you should have a strategic job search mapped out and should include:

  • A list of 10-15 companies you are interested in
  • A list of 20+ employees who work at those companies
  • An updated LinkedIn profile to reach out to the above employees from
  • At the ready content and intros to send to said new contacts
  • Allotted time to warm up those relationships until you are at the point where asking about open positions doesn’t seem spammy.

Why Your Executive Resume Needs To Step Up It's Game This Year

Take a good, hard look at your resume

When was the last time you looked at your resume with a critical eye? It’s not enough to just keep adding your newest role to the resume. Does your resume weave your career story throughout its content? Does it help the reader know where you started and how you got to where you are now?

Consider your steady progress through the years. Do you have your wins clearly listed, or are they buried in a list of non-important bullets?

Branding matters

When you look at your resume, specifically at the top, does your brand show up? Does it say what you do, or does it say something like “Executive Profile”?

The best executive resumes clearly state what you want to do at the top of your resume. Don’t make employers search the resume for your focus—because they won’t.

Strong strategic leaders should start their resumes with a branded headline.

Consider the following:

Human Resources Officer



Leadership Capability | Transformation & Change Management | Culture Development | Value Creation | Inclusion & Equity | Data Analytics & Insights | M&A/Integration | Executive & Leadership Coaching

Not only will the second one grab the reader’s attention, but it also explains what they specialize in, what they’ve done, and what they are capable of doing.

Identify your value and showcase it at the top. You are a thought leader. Show what your expertise is in.

Metrics and numbers for the win

As a strategic leader, your executive resume needs to be rich with metrics and results. Think of the projects you worked on, the sales you generated, the growth you gained, etc. –and always have numbers ready.

  • What project did you work on? What were the results?
  • How many people did you lead? What were their successes?
  • How did you and your team cut costs and/or save money?
  • How did you increase sales, even during turbulent times? (Think metrics AND the background story if there is one. Those are the most interesting)

Examples of resume metrics may include:

  • Raised gross profit by 4%, directing increased services demand across a broad range of verticals, with the healthcare, commerce, and residential markets each posting double-digit same-location YOY growth.
  • Expanded locations while maintaining a 94% location retention rate.
  • Drove $456 million in sales annually and built a pipeline of long-term recurring business with high-profile customers, enhancing company’s value such that it captured the attention of Johnson Technologies, which merged with Jones in a multibillion-dollar take-private transaction in May 2024.

However, many of our clients worry that their stories might not contain the metrics and numbers they need. If that is the case, we recommend leading with contributions that drove change within the company.

Examples of non-metric accomplishments may include:

  • Played an integral role alongside the CRO in transforming the enterprise risk management function into a highly valued strategic partner, embedding risk management into the organizational culture and positioning it at the forefront of TMX’s strategic planning and decision-making
  • Assisted in rebuilding ABC from the ground up; analyzed existing operations and risk frameworks/practices to gauge organizational perception and identify opportunities to elevate and enhance ABC’s value to the enterprise.
  • Improved the board’s capacity for effective risk management decision-making by establishing the board risk committee, governance, and reporting model. 


Why Your Executive Resume Needs To Step Up It's Game This Year

Stepping Up Your Executive Resume This Year

In order for a company or recruiter to see the ROI they will get when they hire you, they have to see what you can do for them. That starts on your resume. Most won’t take the time to dig into your story if it isn’t compelling. This is why your executive resume needs to step up its game this year. The more enticing your resume looks, the better chance you have to win over the reader. 


Tired of trying to DIY your resume or LI profile? Reach out. We’re happy to help!

How to Put a Positive Spin on Your Employment Gaps

Job Search
How to Put a Positive Spin on Your Employment Gaps

Job gaps are a chapter of life that nearly all employed workers will experience at some time. For personal reasons, economic reasons, or other reasons, occasionally job gaps can be stigmatized by prospective hiring executives. In the proper light, however, you can turn those job gaps into effective, positive differentiators that prove your endurance, flexibility, and skills acquired. Here’s how to put a positive spin on your employment gaps into a powerful component of your professional story, complete with examples.

Embrace Your Employment Gaps

The primary and foremost step to making an employment gap work in your favor is to accept it.

Whether it be that you were at home raising a child, had taken a break to nurse a family member, were traveling, undertook other studies, or even utilized the time to address health concerns, an acceptance of these facts can actually make your resume more human and make you more relatable to potential employers.

Example: Sarah, a marketing professional, had, in fact, stayed at home for two years to care for aging parents.

Rather than try to disguise this break in her work history, she put it on her resume and explained skills she had gained as a care provider, like patience, time management, and empathy (all great “soft skills”).

These attributes translate into just about any career situation, and Sarah was using them to demonstrate her well-rounded abilities.

Emphasize Skill Development

Employment gaps can also be an opportunity to gain by way of experience, both personal and professional.

If you utilized that time to undertake some courses, learn a new skill, volunteer, or get involved in something that can contribute to your growth as an individual, mention those in your resume and cover letter.

Example: John, who worked as an information technology specialist, got laid off and experienced one year of unemployment.

During his unemployed year, John took online courses on cybersecurity, volunteered at a local non-profit by doing installations of secure networks for that non-profit, and attended seminars in his profession.

When he applied for new jobs, John was able to add to his resume his proactive measures to keep up with industry trends and his demonstration of lifelong learning.

Use Freelance and Independent Contract Work

Freelance and contract employment that is done in between jobs can demonstrate a lot of initiative and commitment on your part. 

You can also get diverse clients and projects which will be added to your resume as well as your professional portfolio. Highlighting this type of work can be a simple yet effective way to put a positive spin on your employment gaps. 

Example: Maria was a graphic designer who had freelanced for the past 18 months after she had moved to a new city.

She had been working with several small businesses in the city during that time, which allowed her to do website design and branding.

She also used these in her portfolio, which showcased her versatility and ability to meet the needs of several different clients.

It also showcased that she had worked actively in the past 18 months of her career, even if she was not in a traditional full-time job.

How to Put a Positive Spin on Your Employment Gaps

Emphasize Transferable Skills

Acknowledge that sometimes, the gaps in employment can translate into having diverse experiences in other areas or types of work.

Actually, demonstrate the skills you learned during your time off that may get transferred and be applied in the position you want to occupy at your disposal.

Example:  For instance, there was Alex, a former teacher who had taken three years out of the field to try to start a small business of his own.

Despite his business’s eventual failure, while it was in operation, Alex learned valuable life skills in project management, marketing, budgeting, and customer service.

When he returned to the field of education, Alex was able to use these skills as a foundation on which to show how they would work as a means to help augment his administrative and teaching skills.

Put A Positive Spin On The Gaps

When speaking of these gaps in interviews or in cover letters, frame the gaps positively. Talk instead of where you were able to travel during that time, not of the gap itself.

Example: Emily, a project manager, had been away for a year traveling and experiencing new and different cultures.

Rather than stating her travel experience, she stated how her year out helped her enhance her cultural learning , develop her problem-solving skills, and diversity in her capacity to work with all types of work teams.

Such a positive connotation said that her experience away from work was a learning experience and added to her professional value.


Network and Seek Recommendations

Networking can also work as a effective means of describing and justifying your employment gaps with a positive spin.

Ask for recommendations from those with whom you worked during the period of employment gap, which may include your freelance clients, volunteer coordinators, and even your course instructors.

Example: Raj, an engineer, took a leave of two years to complete his Master in Environmental Engineering.

In the interim, he volunteered with a few environmental organizations and managed to get a few projects completed.

He sought recommendations from his professors and volunteers’ coordinators, who could vouch for his hard work and skills.

Such recommendations helped cover up the gap in his work experience and added a good endorsement of his capability.

Demonstrate Resilience within the Gap

Sometimes, employment gaps can be due to trying times. Instead, make them a time of showcasing your strength and ability to thrive over hard times.

Most employers are looking for this characteristic since it lets them know that you can handle challenging times, can adjust, and respond even stronger.

Example:  Lisa, as a sales manager, had a debilitating health condition that left her with a large gap in employment.

She detailed, in her job applications what work she had undertaken to stay up-to-date with industry changes while she was unemployed.  She was then able to market her resilience, focus, and commitment to her career, taking what might be a detrimental gap and turning it into a tale of personal resilience and career determination.


Add the Context in Your CV

Having a small mention about the employment gaps in your resume itself can, in some way, provide some context for the prospective employers to work upon.

It can help in preventing some misunderstanding and in making you look as transparent with nothing to hide. Put it out there. Let them know there was a gap.

Example: Mark, a software engineer, had a layoff that led to a nine-month employment gap.

He wrote a brief note in his cover letter detailing the layoff and what he had been doing during the gap period, like making contributions to open-source projects and completing a cloud computing certification.

The honesty made the prospective employers visualize the gap and what he did to remain relevant in his field of career.


How to Put a Positive Spin on Your Employment Gaps


Reframe The Narrative

Reframing your story means shifting the emphasis from the gap to the growth and accomplishments during the gap period.

This can help you draft an engaging story concurrent with your career objective.

Example: Laura had a two-year break from a position as a financial analyst to start a family.

She did so by highlighting the financial planning and budgeting skills she acquired during this time and the online financial modeling courses she enrolled in during that time.

By highlighting the personal and professional development she was engaging in during this time, Laura was able to construct a positive and forward-looking narrative.


Get ready for Questions in the Interview

Being able to provide answers to questions relating to any gaps in your employment is very important.

Practice your responses to ensure they are concise, honest, and put a positive spin on the experience.

Example: Responding in an interview to being asked about the two-year hole in his resume, software engineer James spoke about how he had spent those two years indulging his love of travel, as well as freelancing on coding projects he was interested in.

He spoke of the varied range of projects that he was exposed to, the range of programming languages he had to learn, and how, as a result, he became a more rounded developer.

In plotting that information in a well-prepared response, he took what might have been a red flag and made it so that he was still keeping engaged as a professional.


Landing the Job

Gaps in employment need not dissuade you from your career.

On the other hand, you must derive the maximum benefit from the same

By recognizing the gap, concentrating on skill acquisition, using freelance to your advantage, carving out transferable skills, positioning the gap positively, building networks, demonstrating resilience, providing the context in the resume, recasting your story, and preparing for the interview questions, you will be in a position to make the employment gaps a very potent tool and be able to put a positive spin on your situation.

Not only do the strategies minimize the visibility of the gaps, they can also make the gap very attractive and beneficial to the overall professional development.

Once again, please remember that everybody has a unique career and the employment gaps are nothing but mere chapters in the professional story.

If properly handled, the gaps can be a good story to illustrate your adaptability, never-ending learning, and resilience in any situation, making you a very attractive option to the prospective employer.

Are you ready to elevate your career? Learn more about our professional resume packages here. 

Navigating Rejection: Tips for Handling Feedback in Your Job Search

Job Search
navigating rejection

The journey of job searching may be laced with times of hope and, on the other side of the coin, feel like waters that often swirl out of control. Navigating rejection is one of the most dreaded occurrences during this process. Whether it’s radio silence from a would-be employer or a blunt “no,” rejection is the brutal reality of looking for work. But it also might be some of the best growing and learning experiences. I know– I’ve learned from mine.

Here are some strategies for how to handle the feedback and rejection from your job search, turning those setbacks into stepping stones toward your goals for your career.

How to Make Sense of Rejection in the Job Market

First, it’s crucial to recognize that navigating rejection is not a reflection of your worth as a person or professional.
I was crushed the first time I was rejected from a job I really wanted. I let it get to me, it affected my job search for a solid week, and I let it control my feelings about myself.
The job market is influenced by numerous factors beyond your control, such as timing, the specific needs of a company, and the pool of applicants. Sometimes, rejection speaks less of your qualifications and more of the lack of fit. Maintaining such a perspective can assist you in not losing confidence and resilience in the face of rejection.

Embracing Feedback

Take the notion of feedback from the premise that when you receive the feedback, negative or positive, you receive it as a gift. Constructive criticism can provide invaluable insights into areas for improvement, whether it’s your resume, interview skills, or certain qualifications. If feedback is not automatically provided, don’t hesitate to ask for it politely. Use the information to refine your approach and make it a stronger candidacy for your next opportunities.

Building Resilience

Building resilience is like your emotional armor in the job search. It includes adopting a growth mindset where every experience is taken as an opportunity for learning and development. So, pat yourself on the back for every effort and all the progress you’ve made, not only the outcomes. Be compassionate with yourself and remember that persistence is what will finally make your efforts pay off toward your career goals. Be patient.

Fine-Tuning Your Approach

Use rejection as another chance to reassess and fine-tune the areas of your job search that may not be working. Look for patterns in the feedback; all the comments seem to be leading toward only a few themes. What are the skills or experiences that you could fill in more detail? Is there any gap in your resume that you want to fill? The intention of this self-analysis is that with the realization, it will be possible to make targeted improvements in your job search approach so that you emerge stronger as a candidate in the race. What do I really want to do? How can I stand out as the obvious choice?

Networking and Mentorship

Developing a supportive network of family, friends, and professionals helps in receiving emotional and practical advice. Look for mentors who can guide and review your application documents and provide insights into your target industry. In addition, networking could act as a source of new opportunities by way of relationships, perhaps for job leads more befitting.


Sometimes, even a rejection can be a time to broaden your scope. Look at related fields and even opportunities where you could gain that advancement knowledge, and be open to the possibility of more education if it is in line with reaching your ultimate career goal. You can do this to make yourself more well-rounded and appealing to prospective employers. Thinking of getting that certification? Do it!

Staying Positive and Healthy

Maintaining a positive outlook is crucial, but it’s equally important to look after your mental and physical health while navigating rejection. Job searching can be stressful, so engage in activities that boost your well-being, such as exercise, hobbies, and spending time with loved ones. A healthy balance can keep you motivated and reduce the toll of rejection.
Back when my first rejection hit me, it was in the Fall. That is when I learned to can. During that job search and rejection time, I canned tomatoes, salsa, pickles, applesauce, pears, and so much more. It relaxed me AND it made me feel productive even though my job search wasn’t productive.

Persistence Pays Off

Remember the power of persistence. Every ‘no’ is bringing you closer to the ‘yes’ of destiny. Stay committed to your job search but be flexible in your approach. Be ready to learn, change, and jump at new opportunities. Navigating rejection isn’t always a straight path.

Learning from Success Stories

Find motivation from the success stories of people who have received rejections but later on have been hired in the company of their dreams. It may have helpful advice and motivation for moving forward. Knowing that even the very successful professionals have been rejected many times could make it normal and foster tenacity. ‘They’ve been through this, and look where they are now!’

Get Professional Help

If rejection is taking a toll on your confidence or even mental well-being, then consider seeking assistance from either career counselors (hello there!) or mental health professionals. They would provide techniques with which to deal with rejection, measures to make your job search better, and ways to handle stress.


While navigating rejections within your job search can surely be difficult, it is also an opportunity for growth and self-improvement. Practice embracing feedback, bouncing back, refining your strategy, and staying positively healthy in mind and body, and you’ll turn rejection into an incredible force for moving your career forward. Remember, every “no” is a step closer to the “yes” that will open the door to new professional adventures. Keep learning, adapting, and persisting—your perseverance will pay off.

5 Essential Soft Skills Employers Want You to Have

Cover LettersResume Writing

In today’s ever-changing work environment, soft skills play a pivotal role in determining professional success. Unlike hard skills, which are about a person’s skill set and ability to perform a certain type of task or activity, soft skills are interpersonal and broadly applicable in the workplace.

Here are five essential soft skills for professional success, along with examples of how to showcase them in your resume or cover letter.

1. Communication

Importance: Effective communication is crucial in any workplace setting. It involves clearly conveying ideas, listening actively, understanding others’ perspectives, and responding appropriately. Good communicators can inspire and influence people, fostering a positive and productive work environment. Think about the leaders you know who inspired you. What was one of their best qualities? I bet it was the ability to communicate with their team.

How to Use in Resume/Cover Letter: In your resume, include instances where your communication skills led to positive outcomes, such as resolving conflicts, delivering presentations that won significant accounts, or leading workshops that improved team performance.
In your cover letter, you might write, “I have honed my communication skills through various leadership roles, consistently ensuring clear and effective dissemination of objectives and fostering an atmosphere of open dialogue.”

2. Teamwork

Importance: Collaboration and the ability to work well with others are fundamental in most jobs. Employers look for individuals who can contribute to the team, share ideas, and support their colleagues to achieve common goals while not involving themselves in drama.

How to Use in Resume/Cover Letter: Highlight specific projects where your ability to work in a team was evident in achieving results. For instance, “Collaborated with a cross-functional team to increase project efficiency by 30%, demonstrating strong teamwork and problem-solving skills.” In a cover letter, mention how you believe in the power of teamwork to overcome complex challenges and bring innovative solutions to life.

3. Problem-Solving

Importance: The ability to identify problems, analyze underlying causes, and implement solutions is invaluable. Problem-solving skills show that you can navigate challenges creatively and effectively, a quality that is highly prized in any role. We like to use CAR stories (Challenge, Action, Results). What was the challenge you faced? What action did you take to change it? What were the results?

How to Use in Resume/Cover Letter: Provide examples of situations where you successfully solved a problem or made an improvement. For example, “Identified a bottleneck in the production process and implemented a new strategy that reduced delivery times by 20%.” Your cover letter could explain a scenario where your problem-solving skills led to a significant breakthrough in a project or task.

4. Adaptability

Importance: In a fast-paced work environment, change is constant. Being adaptable means you can handle unexpected situations with ease and remain flexible in your approach to challenges and new tasks. How can we forget the pandemic? Adaptability in a time of crisis wins every time.

How to Use in Resume/Cover Letter: Mention experiences where you had to quickly adapt to changes or learn new skills to meet the demands of your role. In your resume, this could be, “Adapted to a rapidly changing work environment by learning new software in a short period, which increased the team’s productivity by 15%.” In your cover letter, reflect on a time when your adaptability allowed you to successfully navigate a difficult situation.

5. Emotional Intelligence

Importance: Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions and those of others. It involves empathy, social skills, self-awareness, and self-regulation. High emotional intelligence can lead to better relationships at work, improved leadership skills, and a positive workplace culture.

How to Use in Resume/Cover Letter: Highlight roles or situations where your emotional intelligence made a difference. This could be through conflict resolution, mentoring colleagues, or leading a team through a stressful period. For example, “Leveraged my high emotional intelligence to mediate a conflict between team members, resulting in enhanced team harmony and productivity.” In your cover letter, discuss how your emotional intelligence has been a key factor in your professional development and success.


Soft skills are increasingly becoming the differentiators between good and great professionals. By effectively showcasing these skills in your resume and cover letter, you can demonstrate to potential employers that you not only have the technical skills required for the job but also the interpersonal capabilities that will make you a valuable addition to their team.
Remember, the key is to provide specific examples that highlight how these skills have contributed to your successes and how they can be beneficial in the role you’re applying for.

Mastering and Adapting Your Resume to Market Trends

Executive ResumesResume Writing

In the ever-evolving job market, adapting your resume to reflect current trends is crucial. A well-crafted resume does more than list your skills and experiences; it positions you as an ideal candidate in the eyes of potential employers (the goal). This post will guide you on how to master and adapt your resume to stay competitive.


Understanding Market Trends

The first step in adapting your resume is understanding current market trends. Trends can vary by industry, but common elements include the increased importance of digital skills, a focus on soft skills like communication and adaptability, and the need for evidence-based accomplishments. Staying informed about these trends ensures that your resume resonates with what employers are currently looking for.

Analyzing Job Descriptions

To tailor your resume effectively, analyze job descriptions in your field. Identify keywords and phrases frequently used and incorporate them into your resume. This not only helps in passing through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) but also shows that you’re in tune with the language and priorities of your industry.

Adapting Your Resume

1. Highlighting Relevant Skills

Update your resume to highlight skills that are in demand. For instance, if digital proficiency is trending in your field, ensure your resume reflects your competence in relevant software or platforms. Relevancy is one of my pet peeves. If you don’t have the skills relevant to the job, you may not be a good fit. If you do have the skills needed, don’t just list them, back them up by demonstrating how you’ve used them effectively in past roles.

2. Showcasing Achievements

Rather than just listing your duties at previous jobs, focus on your achievements. Use specific examples and quantify your successes wherever possible.
– Did you increase sales by 30%?
– Did you lead a project that resulted in significant cost savings?
– How did you help your team overcome a certain hurdle?
These specifics make your contributions tangible and memorable.

3. Modernizing the Format

Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all resumes. Today’s resumes are more visual and concise. Use a clean, modern layout with bullet points for easy readability. Infographics and charts can be used sparingly to showcase key achievements. However, ensure that the design does not overpower the content.

4. Incorporating Soft Skills

Employers are increasingly valuing soft skills. Showcase your communication, leadership, and problem-solving abilities through concrete examples. Kennedy suggests using scenarios from your work experience where you demonstrated these skills effectively.

5. Customizing for the Role

Don’t forget to customize your resume for each application. This doesn’t mean rewriting it entirely, but rather tweaking it to highlight the most relevant experiences and skills for each job. When in doubt, check out the job description. You’ll find lots of little gems in there (keywords, descriptors, etc.).

Overcoming Challenges

Adapting your resume can be challenging, especially when transitioning industries or re-entering the job market after a gap. In such cases, focus on transferable skills and continuous learning. Highlight any courses, certifications, or volunteer work that demonstrate your commitment to staying relevant in your field.

The Role of Networking

Networking can significantly impact your job search. Engage with professionals in your industry through platforms like LinkedIn. Often, a strong network can provide insights into market trends and even lead to job opportunities that are not advertised publicly.

Continuous Learning

In a fast-changing job market, continuous learning is key. Stay updated with the latest trends and skills in your industry. Online courses, webinars, and professional workshops can be excellent resources for this. Every extra bit of learning helps. Add them!

In Conclusion…

Mastering and adapting your resume is an ongoing process. It involves staying informed about market trends, highlighting your most relevant skills and achievements, and continuously learning and networking. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your resume will stand out in today’s competitive job market.

Mastering the Art of Executive Interviews

InterviewingSuccess Strategies

Mastery Requires Next Level Preparation

Executive interviews require a different level of preparation and finesse compared to other job interviews.

Executives are expected to demonstrate their leadership abilities, strategic thinking, strong ROI, and ability to drive organizational success.

You know you can do everything the company is asking but how do relay those things in an interview?

We work with so many smart and accomplished executives who struggle with knowing what to focus on in the interview (or not).

Here are a few key things companies look for when interviewing executives:

Showcasing Leadership Skills:

  • Prepare examples that demonstrate your ability to lead teams, make tough decisions, and solve complex problems.**Have stories ready. People love stories and can relate to or visualize what happened.
  • Highlight your experience in driving strategic initiatives and achieving business objectives.
  • Emphasize your ability to inspire and motivate others, and your track record of building high-performing teams.

Executives are expected to demonstrate their leadership abilities, strategic thinking, strong ROI, and ability to drive organizational success.

Handling Tough Interview Questions:

    • Practice answering common executive-level interview questions, such as those related to leadership style, conflict resolution, and decision-making.
    • Be prepared to discuss challenging situations you have faced and how you effectively handled them.
    • Use the STAR or CAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure your responses and provide concrete examples.**We use the CAR method to gather information for resumes. They help build a story and provide deeper insight into the way YOU do things.

Researching the Company and Industry:

    • Thoroughly research the company, its mission, values, recent news, and industry trends.**Know the company. Know what they do/sell/build, etc. Know their financials. Know their pain points.
    • Understand the challenges and opportunities the company is facing, and how your skills and experience can contribute to its success.
    • Prepare thoughtful questions to ask during the interview that demonstrate your knowledge and interest in the organization.
    • Identify someone who works there on LinkedIn (having an ‘in’ helps) and after your intro, ask them if you can chat about the company.

Demonstrating Strategic Thinking:

    • Highlight your ability to think strategically and provide examples of how you have contributed to long-term organizational goals.
    • Showcase your understanding of market trends, competition, and industry challenges.
    • Discuss how you have developed and implemented strategic initiatives to drive business growth and profitability.**Give a detailed step-by-step if they are interested in one.

Communicating Your Leadership Style:

    • Clearly articulate your leadership philosophy and how it aligns with the organization’s values and culture. You know your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to leading.
    • Share stories that illustrate your leadership style and how it has positively influenced teams and achieved results.**Again, stories have amazing power.
    • Emphasize your ability to inspire, motivate, and empower others to excel.

Addressing Cultural Fit:

    • Research the company’s culture, values, and leadership style.**This is important and will give you an idea of the company and how they deal with each other.
    • Align your responses with the organization’s culture and demonstrate how you would be a good fit.
    • Discuss your experience in leading diverse teams and fostering an inclusive work environment.

You are already equipped with what they need. Practice with a colleague or friend. It will be easier than you think.


How to target your resume for your specific role or industry

Resume KeywordsResume Writing

Resumes are not one size fits all.

In other words, if you’re looking for an HR job, your resume should be targeted to that particular HR role.

When I was hiring, I was pretty specific in my position description for a part-time customer service person. I loaded it with job-specific customer service keywords.

I was shocked–and a little annoyed– by the applicants who applied: a CFO, a UX coder, an insurance claims specialist, an early childhood educator, an IT consultant, and more completely unrelated to my posting (with not a speck of customer service experience in their resume.

HR managers, hiring managers, and recruiters talk about this often–when applicants DON’T tailor their resumes to the position listed.

If you’re not sure what should be on your resume, always look to the job description. It’s full of keywords and it tells you exactly what they need.

For example, if you are a finance executive what things should you put on your resume?

Financial executive resumes are different from other executive resumes in several ways. Here are a few key differences:

  1. Emphasis on financial expertise: Financial executive resumes should highlight the candidate’s financial skills and experience, including their ability to analyze financial data, make strategic financial decisions, and manage budgets and financial forecasting.
  2. Technical skills: They may want to include a section highlighting technical skills such as financial modeling, risk management, and experience with accounting software.
  3. Education and certifications: Education and certifications are important for financial exec positions. Candidates should include information about their degrees, professional certifications, and any relevant coursework. Additional professional experience is important as well.
  4. Results-oriented: Financial executive resumes should highlight specific achievements and results, such as improving profitability, increasing revenue, reducing costs, or leading successful mergers and acquisitions.
  5. Industry knowledge: A career in finance should demonstrate a deep understanding of the financial industry, including regulatory compliance, financial reporting requirements, and industry trends.
  6. Leadership and team management: They are often responsible for managing teams, so the resume should highlight leadership skills, team-building experience, and a track record of successful management.

So, what are some keywords a finance exec might use? Again, look to the job description. Depending on the job you may see any of these:

  • Financial analysis
  • Strategic planning
  • Budget management
  • Forecasting
  • Risk management
  • Investment analysis
  • Financial modeling
  • P&L management
  • Cash flow management
  • Accounting principles
  • Taxation laws
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Auditing
  • Corporate finance
  • Treasury management
  • M&A
  • Capital markets
  • Leadership
  • Team management
  • Communication skills

Make sure to incorporate these keywords appropriately in your resume, highlighting your relevant skills and accomplishments. However, avoid stuffing your resume with too many keywords as it may come across as inauthentic or spammy. Instead, focus on using relevant keywords that accurately describe your skills and experience.

ATS or Hiring Manager–Who should I write my resume for?

Executive ResumesResume Writing

Does the thought of writing your resume leave you confused?

Not sure who will be reading this? An AI (ATS) or a human?

It can feel stressful to know what to write, who to write for (recruiters? hiring managers?), what keywords, etc., especially when you aren’t sure exactly what an applicant tracking system does.

I’ll explain it in a nutshell.

ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) are software programs used by employers to filter and sort through resumes to find the most qualified candidates for a specific job.

ATS typically look for the following elements in a resume:

Keywords: ATS scan resumes for specific keywords and phrases that match the job description. These can include job titles, technical skills, certifications, and other relevant terms that demonstrate your qualifications and experience. What words do you notice over and over in the job description?

Formatting: ATS prefer resumes that are well-organized and easy to read. To ensure your resume is ATS-friendly, use a simple and consistent formatting style, including headings, bullet points, and white space. Columns don’t work here as ATS reads left to right (like a book)—it doesn’t stop at the column.

Relevant Work Experience: ATS look for candidates with experience that closely matches the requirements of the job. Make sure your resume highlights your most relevant work experience, including job titles, dates of employment, and key achievements.

Education and Training: ATS also look for candidates with the required education and training for the job. Make sure to include your degree(s), certifications, and any relevant coursework or training programs you’ve completed.

Applicant Information: ATS also scans for basic applicant information such as name, contact information, and location. Make sure to include this information in a clear and consistent format at the top of your resume.

Knowing which keywords to add is perplexing to some of the candidates I talk to.

One way to know if your resume has enough keywords for ATS is to carefully review the job description and compare it to your resume. Look for the specific skills, qualifications, and experience that the employer is seeking and make sure to include relevant keywords and phrases throughout your resume.

Here are some tips to ensure your resume has enough keywords for ATS:

Use exact phrases: Use exact phrases from the job description wherever possible. If the job description calls for “project management experience,” include that exact phrase in your resume instead of a similar phrase such as “managed projects.”

Use variations of keywords: Use variations of keywords and phrases throughout your resume to demonstrate your familiarity with the industry and the specific job requirements. For example, if the job description calls for “customer service skills,” also include related terms such as “client service” or “customer support.”

Include relevant industry jargon: If there are specific technical terms or jargon commonly used in the industry, make sure to include them in your resume. This helps to demonstrate your familiarity with the industry and the specific job requirements.

Don’t stuff your resume with irrelevant keywords: While it’s important to include relevant keywords and phrases, don’t stuff your resume with irrelevant keywords. This can make your resume look unnatural and may actually hurt your chances of passing through an ATS.

Test your resume: Some ATS offer a “resume optimization” feature that can analyze your resume and provide feedback on whether it contains enough keywords for the job. Alternatively, you can test your resume by submitting it to a free online resume scanner that checks for ATS compatibility.

Something to keep in mind is that even though it’s important to write a resume that works with ATS, it’s also important to write for people.

It’s equally important to ensure that your resume is readable and appealing to human recruiters as well as ATS. This means using clear, concise language, storytelling, and formatting that makes your qualifications and experience easy to understand. Your resume should also highlight your unique skills and accomplishments in a way that captures the recruiter’s attention and stands out from other candidates. It should tell your story.

To strike a balance between ATS and human readability, consider tailoring your resume for each specific job application. Start by reviewing the job description and identifying the key skills and qualifications that the employer is seeking. Then, incorporate those relevant keywords and phrases throughout your resume while also crafting a compelling narrative that showcases your experience and achievements.

Similar to ATS, hiring managers typically look for the following key elements in a resume:

Relevant Experience: Hiring managers want to see that you have relevant work experience that demonstrates your ability to perform the job duties required for the position. Highlight your most relevant work experience and quantify your accomplishments with specific achievements and results.

Skills and Qualifications: Highlight your skills and qualifications that are directly relevant to the job. Be specific and provide examples of how you have used these skills in previous roles.

Education and Certifications: Include your educational background and any certifications that are relevant to the position. This helps to demonstrate your qualifications and expertise in a particular area.

Achievements and Accomplishments: Use specific examples to demonstrate your achievements and accomplishments in previous roles. Quantify your results wherever possible to demonstrate the impact you have made in previous positions. Numbers, numbers, numbers. Add metrics when possible.

Relevant Keywords: While not as critical as with ATS, it’s still important to use relevant keywords and phrases from the job description. This helps to demonstrate your familiarity with the industry and the specific requirements of the position.

Clarity and Readability: Hiring managers want to be able to quickly and easily scan your resume for the information they need. Use a clear and consistent formatting style, including headings and bullet points, to make your resume easy to read and understand. Keep the important info on page one—the top half of the page.

In summary, hiring managers look for a combination of relevant experience, skills and qualifications, education and certifications, achievements and accomplishments, relevant keywords, and clarity and readability in a resume. ATS seeks these things as well.

The job description offers a treasure trove of keywords and helps make the writing process so much easier. If you’ve done those same skills list them. Both the hiring manager and ATS will be seeking them out.