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:
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.
Technical skills: They may want to include a section highlighting technical skills such as financial modeling, risk management, and experience with accounting software.
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.
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.
Industry knowledge: A career in finance should demonstrate a deep understanding of the financial industry, including regulatory compliance, financial reporting requirements, and industry trends.
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:
Cash flow management
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?
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.
Are you thinking that 2022 is the year you really want to score that executive-level position with your company? Or for a completely new organization? Either way, you’re going to want to have your marketing tools ready for the new year-new job search adventure, and being able to present hiring managers and recruiters a targeted, executive-level resume is the first step in the process.
Whether you haven’t updated your resume in 20 years or two, it’s still necessary to take a long inventory of what is currently on the resume, what needs to be added, and what you can do to make it better. Here are a few tips to get you started…
Everybody knows that you should have your contact information, work experience, and education on your resume. However, this information still needs to be strategically written and displayed, so that it stands out and doesn’t just look like a pile of information you quickly plopped on a piece of paper.
In your contact information, include your name (professional), relevant credentials (CPA, MBA, PhD, etc.), phone number (mobile is preferred), email address (personal-not work or school email), and your location (city/state is sufficient). Your name should be bigger and stand out more than the rest of your information, which should be displayed professionally, either after or underneath your name. Include the word “LinkedIn,” and link your resume to your online profile, if, and only if, your online profile is complete and optimized for your new job search. (It needs to send the same message as your resume.)
Your career history needs to start out with a strong title. PLEASE do not use the words “work” or “employment” in your title. Think of how an executive would talk about his/her career. “Professional Experience,” “Career Narrative,” or “Career Chronology” are some other options. Write this section so that it is keyword-saturated, achievement-focused, and achievements are quantified where possible. If you were a sales leader or in a position where you made an impact in growing business or revenue, this is your opportunity to share this information! Use creative/colored bullet symbols to separate your achievements, and ensure that your job titles and years in each position are accurate.
If you are a new graduate, your education information can be listed at the top of your resume. If you are NOT a new graduate, this section should follow your career history and, depending on how long ago you graduated, you may want to leave the years out of this section. If you make the title “Education & Credentials” (or something of that nature), you can also include any relevant certifications and professional development/training here.
THE EXECUTIVE NEEDS:
Now that you have the basics started, there are other things you need to include in your resume to tell your story, appeal to the reader, and ultimately market yourself effectively for the job you’re vying for.
Use industry-specific keywords and powerful descriptors to paint a brief introductory picture of who you are, what you have done, and the value you can provide in an executive-level role.
Branding is KEY! Come up with a branding statement or at least some type of title at the top of your career summary, so that the reader knows immediately what level you’re at (or want to be at).
What are you known for? What are you good at? What do you love to do? What do you want to continue to do in your next role?
You could also just use a few key terms or even multiple titles (COO, CFO, etc.) to show the reader this information.
If you want to communicate some of your best career successes, adding a “Career Highlights” section just before your employment history is a great idea. Include 3-5 bullets of your biggest career achievements (successful programs you’ve implemented, process improvements, cost reductions); anything that shows where your leadership resulted in a positive outcome for a client or an organization.
Think “results-rich” statements when you are deciding on what to add. Think METRICS. Where did you generate millions in cost savings? What strategies or deep dives did you conduct to see where there were holes and money drains?
How are your problem-solving skills? Do you shine when listening and communicating to your team? Are you good at critical thinking? What about conflict management? Don’t underestimate the power of your soft skills. Companies are hungry for that balance.
Board Leadership & Affiliations
Companies want to hire executives who have industry knowledge and can work with Boards of Directors and/or other c-suite teams. Include your memberships in professional organizations, as well as any board experience you have (paid/volunteer).
How were you able to flex and adapt during the pandemic? What changes have you made, contributed to, or implemented relating to the pandemic? What role did you lay?
Want to level up? Then you better level up the look of your resume. Your format needs to stand out just like your content, so PLEASE, do not do a simple black/white, 12-point Times Roman font for your entire resume! Add some pizzazz! A little bit of color goes a long way in getting your resume to stand out in the pile–and is also very appealing to the eye.
Additionally, including language proficiencies (if you’re seeking a global position), honors, awards, publications, etc., anything that can help the reader to truly get to know you in the brief few seconds taken to scan the resume.
These are just a few things you can do to ensure that your resume is on target to give a strategically written chronology of exactly who you are, what you have accomplished, and the value you can provide in an executive-level position in 2022.
Searching for a new job or have your eye on moving up to the next level with your current employer? You never know when an opportunity is going to present itself, so you need to be prepared! One way to do so is to optimize your online presence, and LinkedIn is the premier site to showcase your experience, achievements, skills, and leadership acumen on a global scale.
Your LinkedIn profile should be one of the most utilized tools in your job search tool chest, so you need to ensure that it is sharp, fully optimized, and maintained well during your job search and beyond.
Depending on what type of device your profile is being viewed on (PC or mobile), the reader will only be able to see a fraction of your profile. That fraction has to be creative and appealing enough to make the reader want to continue to learn more about you. Don’t know where to start? Right from the top!
LinkedIn automatically gives you a default banner when you sign up. Get rid of it! This is the first place you have the opportunity to pull the reader in – be creative! You can personalize the banner to show a little bit about yourself and/or use titles and keywords to help communicate your brand. Have a special saying or motto that motivates you? It can easily be included here. Use a website like Canva to design your own banner or hire someone to do it – either way – don’t use the default banner! #lame
Your LinkedIn profile should have the same name that is on your resume, so that your name is consistently known by anyone who views your resume or online profile. Add any relevant credentials after your name, and try to ensure that you don’t use a nickname.
We all know that a lot of us don’t like advertising pictures of ourselves on social media – sorry, but on LinkedIn, people want to see YOU! Be sure to include a profile picture that is professional looking and done at a level that matches the position you’re seeking. Executives should have a photo that looks like an executive and an entry level photo could probably be a more casual photo.
Stay away from photos where you have cropped yourself out of a group, at a bar/party, or have a lot of distractions in the background. Again – people want to see YOU – not a backdrop from your trip to the Grand Canyon (unless you are a travel blogger – lol).
When you sign up with LinkedIn, your current job title automatically defaults to this section. Change it as soon as you can. Your headline gives you 220 characters to share your value, expertise, and skills. Done effectively, your headline can attract ATS systems and recruiters who are looking for candidates in your industry and is a very easy way to quickly tell people what you have to offer in your field. I like to add keywords and branding to it as well.
Take some time to reflect about what you really want to communicate in this section. Don’t just add a one-liner and certainly do not make yourself sound desperate to find a job (even if you really are). Like your headline, this is a great place to share your brand – so make it strategic, appealing, and value-added! As with your resume, the summary at the beginning of your LinkedIn profile should be strategically written, compelling, and a quick synopsis of the best you have to offer, your highlights, and even some of your skills. Using bullets and color in this section will make it stand out more than just including paragraphs of text.
Consider adding a “call to action” at the end of the summary to let people know you are available for interviews or are actively looking for a new position. You have 2,600 characters in this section, but only the first few lines may show up when people are viewing your profile, and the key is getting the reader to click on the “more” to learn more about you. Make your first few lines appealing, inviting, and clear.
The skills section is great but can also be a bit subjective. You need to add the skills that are the most relevant to your industry and position, whenever possible. Use strong keywords in this section, and make sure you are focusing on unique terms that make you stand out. “Staff Leadership & Development” sounds a lot better than “Leadership” and “Global Sales Operations Management” sounds way better than “Sales”.
As for the endorsements, this is where the section gets a little subjective. LI automatically puts the skills with the most endorsements at the top of the section; however, the top 3 skills are something you can…and should change, so that they are your strongest skills and the ones that are most relevant to your job search, regardless of the number of endorsements.
You have the option of including 50 terms in this list and that fills up pretty quickly – use the best fit and stay away from “fluff” terms that are expected in today’s professional world, like “Time Management” or “Team Player”.
These sections are just the tip of the iceberg in creating an amazing, optimized LinkedIn profile – but they are so important if you want to be “found” on LinkedIn, so you need to ensure that the content is unique to your job goals, industry-specific, and an effective marketing tool for your job search!
It happened…the call about the executive job of your dreams opening up just came through via your contact, and the HR Director wants to see your resume. You might be ready to take the next step in your career, but is your resume ready for an executive-level position? Submitting a bland, non-focused resume with boring content will do nothing but get you taken off of the “call for an interview” list.
Moving on from a middle management position to the c-suite is not for the faint of heart, and your resume needs to show that you have the experience, skills, ROI, and drive to do the job, and do it well. Writing your resume is not just including your career history and where you received your degree, it’s more about creating a document that tells the complete story of who you are, what you have achieved, how you achieved it, and the value you will provide at the next level…in a creative and exciting manner. Below are 5 quick tips that will help you to ensure that your updated resume effectively states “I’m ready for the c-suite and you need to hire me”…
Your format matters – People judge books by their covers! Start with an eye-catching format. While you don’t need to put so much color on your resume that it looks like the 4th of July blew up on your piece of paper, a pop of color will appeal to the reader and help your document to stand out right from the get-go. A font style that is clean and business-like is just as important. Fancy scripts may look pretty, but they are difficult to read and you don’t want people having to work hard to read your text (and believe me, if they have to work hard, they aren’t going to read much past your name).
An exciting executive summary is a must – create a strong career summary that communicates what you have done in your career and the value you can provide at the next level. Include position and industry-specific keywords (not buzzwords…there is a difference!) that match your target position.
Highlight your biggest achievements – include a “Career Highlights” section to give a brief synopsis of your biggest accomplishments if you want. Hint: quantifiable achievements speak the loudest and make a stronger impact than just a bullet list of text. Graphs and charts tell a quick story as well!
Your career history needs to make a big impact in a small amount of time – if you are at an executive-level, it’s pretty safe to say that you have had quite a few years of employment under your belt. Focus on your most recent work experience, and don’t go back more than 15 years into your career history (you can summarize the earlier stuff). A chronological format is the easiest, most clean-cut way to do this. The exception – if your career goals/new job are unrelated to your current job…then you will want to use more of a function format to show that you DO still have the skills and experience for the job you’re trying to land.
Your education information is not as important as your career history – so move it to the end of your resume. Like your career history, degrees received 15+ years ago are probably not going to be as important to the hiring manager as your most recent career experience. Include your degrees and any relevant certifications, but remove the years. The degree is what is important, not when you received it, and announcing “I’m really old…” on your resume is probably not going to win points with the hiring manager. Minimize ageism by eliminating years if they go beyond fifteen. Wow them with your accomplishments and skillset instead.
If you are being recommended for that coveted c-suite position, be sure you have a resume that can back-up up the recommendation. Don’t embarrass yourself (or the friend that recommended you) by submitting a bland resume that does nothing to market you as the ideal candidate for the job. Instead, take the time to update your resume and maximize your chances of being the candidate whose next phone call is “we’d like to offer you the position”!
When I joined Twitter in 2008 I had no clue who to follow or even what to do. After learning a bit more about it, I gathered my little list of resume experts that quickly expanded to experts throughout the careers industry. Through the years I’ve added more people to that list. With vast and various experience, these folks offer daily and weekly expert advice. Whether you are new to Twitter or have been using it for a while, count these experts among your favorite go-to’s for career advice. I’m sure I am missing some (and will remember as soon as I hit “publish”) but for now, here are my fave peeps!
@amyladler Specializes in career transition and strength finding. Spot-on job search tweets.
@debrawheatman Resume writer and career coach offering tips and insight into job search and resume writing. @avidcareerist With a background in retained search and current role as executive resume writer, Donna offers sage advice on resumes and job search.
@greatresume Jessica Hernandez packs nuggets of heart into her career tips, tweet, and posts.
@hireimaging Barb Pool is a career strategist, coach, and resume writer with over 30 years of experience.
@karensilins Career coach, resume writer, presenter, personal branding specialist, and HR consultant fills her Twitter feed with valuable career information.
@laurieberenson Straight-forward resume writing and job search advice for professionals.
@lisarangel A triple threat! With experience as a former recruiter, current resume writer, and humorous wit, Lisa’s tweets offer insight into the recruiting and resume writing worlds.
@pushcareers Brenda Cunningham offers outplacement experience, job search strategies, resume writing, and career management tips. @resumeservice Rosa Vargas offers authentic resume branding advice and career coaching.
@susanwhitcomb Resume writing pioneer, trainer, and job coach. She is the founder and President of The Academies and combines her vast experience with practical career tips.
@valueintowords Jacqui Poindexter turns your career history into a value-infused story. Follow her for resume and career tips.
@CareerTL CEO of Career Thought Leader Consortium, Marie Zimenoff heaps on loads of expert career advice from resume writing to social media advice.
@careerhero President of Career Directors International, Laura DeCarlo’s offers consistently informative career tweets.
@kccareercoach As a career coach and marketing strategist for executives, Meg Montford shares resources, tips and advice.
@krisplantrich 9X certified Career Coach specializing in job search, interview, career transition, salary, and LinkedIn coaching.
@phyllismufson Career Coach and catalyst for personal and career transformation. Helps with job search, career change, and small business.
@susanguarneri Career assessment expert, certified branding strategist and management coach, and resume writer.
@coachwolfgang Career coaches and counselors specializing in multiple coaching disciplines that help individuals take ownership of their careers.
CAREER ADVICE & JOB SEARCH
@careerbliss Online company reviews, salaries, job listings, hiring trends and interview tips. Your one-stop shop.
@careersingov Looking for a career in the government? Check out the nation’s largest State and Local Government Job Board and Career Center.
@classycareer List as Forbes Top 35 Most Influential Career Site and E-Learning Platform, launching dream careers, and businesses. Passionate about helping women succeed in their careers.
@flexjobs Looking for tips on finding a flexible hours, remote work, freelance, or just more work life balance? Look no further. Flexjobs posts jobs and informative articles every day.
@healthcareitcentral Weekly job alerts, an employer directory, and articles for clients in healthcareIT.
@jacobshare Job search expert, blogger, and community builder. His career tweets are interesting and plenty.
@jobhuntorg A careers pioneer whose website and posts offer guidance and tips on everything career-related.
@markadyson Career consultant, blogger, and expert podcaster, Mark keeps his tweets light and jam-packed with everything career.
@social_hire Helps candidates find their next great job. Daily tips and job search advice.
@themuse Offers career advice and matches candidates with companies and jobs looking for them.
@williamarruda Personal branding expert and motivational speaker offers daily job search advice.
@workcoachcafe Tips to help people become more successful in their jobs and job search. Forbes Top 100 Career Site.
@youtern Enables young talent to become highly employable by connecting them to high-impact internships, mentors, and thru contemporary career advice that works!
RECRUITERS & HR
@absolutely_abby Abby Kohut offers job search and recruiting advice to professionals. Selected as one of ‘Forbes Top 100 Career Websites’ and Fast Company’s ‘The Monster 11 for 2011: Career Experts Who Can Help Your Job Search’.
@chrisrussell Online recruiting, job board secrets, and HR consultant. Find out what recruiters are looking for.
@hrbartender Sharlyn Lauby delivers corporate HR tweets daily. Spot-on advice for interested job seekers.
@nickcorcodilos The author of Fearless Job Hunting and Ask The Headhunter, Nick’s tweets answer the burning job search and recruiting questions job seekers are asking.
@recruitmentgv Recruitment and Talent Acquisition news provided by the leading magazine for Recruitment Consultants.
@talentculture HR, Recruiting, Leadership and more. Be sure to save this social community as one of your favorite tweeters.
Why Should You Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter?
The best executive resume should be customized for the job.
It may be easier to write one cover letter and resume and use it for every job to which you want to apply. However, if you’re trying to build the best executive resume to help you stand apart from the other candidates, this is a serious mistake. It’s critical to learn as much as you can about the company, as well as the job, to which you are applying so you can show them why you are the right choice.
No Time to Waste
Hiring personnel often receive hundreds of resumes for every job listing they release. This means they could spend hours, days or even weeks scanning through the resumes and making decisions regarding who they will interview for the job. Every resume that isn’t custom tailored for the job won’t likely be considered. Hiring managers don’t have the time to waste trying to figure out if a candidate is a good fit without the proper information. The best resume writing service can help you create a cover letter and resume customized for each job you are considering.
Showcase Your Specific Skills
One of the primary objectives of your cover letter and resume is to show potential employers what your skills are and how they make you the perfect candidate for the job. When you create the best executive resume, it will highlight the skills that relate directly to the job to which you are applying. This shows prospective employers that you are not only the ideal candidate, but you also read the job listing and understand what’s expected of you.
Fulfill all the Application Requirements
If individuals submit a resume for a position that doesn’t include all of the requested materials, you aren’t going to get the job you’re looking for. When you don’t take the time to read through the job listing and make note of all of the requirements, you are showing prospective employers you don’t care about the position enough to research. However, when you spend the time to determine and include the right application elements, such as examples of your work, you increase the odds you will be hired for the job.
The best executive resume will be customized to meet the needs of the particular job to which you are applying. If you don’t take the time to tailor your cover letter and resume, you won’t make the great impression you’re aiming for. Without making the effort, employers won’t see you as a qualified candidate and may not even consider your resume for an interview.