If executive resume writing is not your forte, you have lots of company. After all, writing a strong resume is not an easy task, and it is certainly compounded by the daunting competition you'll face in today's job market.
However, there ARE shortcuts to creating a strong first impression—-starting with taking a closer look at what you may have missed in writing your leadership resume.
Here are 5 of the most often-overlooked components, along with ways to add this data so employers can see the value in hiring you:
1 - Your career progression
A surprising number of people provide a work history that shows just the last, most important job that they've held at that company. Understandably, earning that Director or Vice President title can give you an ego boost, but consider that you've left a major branding detail out of your executive resume-—namely, your promotability.
Your career advancement shows more than just longevity: being selected for promotion also proves that your work is of high quality. Being promoted over your peers also demonstrates an ability to take on new challenges, which is a sought-after quality among new leaders.
So, be sure to show interim positions on your resume, even if it turns out that you started at the bottom and worked your way up the career ladder.
2 - Your role in the company's growth
One of my first questions to job hunters is "Did the company grow during your tenure?" What I often find is that, even if the company was already poised to double or even triple its revenue, the candidate had a major hand in supporting or driving this level of growth.
There are several ways you can look back at your work history in light of corporate expansion. For one, you may have created support systems that helped the company move from small business to a global concern.
In addition, it's important to note that nearly everything changes when a company expands: its staff, computer systems, operations procedures, marketing message, and mission can take on a different tone.
Here is where you can carefully assess your role during changes in the company's size, looking at your work to see which successes you facilitated, suggested, or led, and then adding this information to your executive resume.
3 - Your explanations for job gaps
You may find that, although you are trying to demonstrate consistent work history, that your resume contains a gap due to caring for a family member, a move, or (of course) job hunting.
While these situations are common, the way in which job hunters deal with the gaps themselves is critical.
Should you fail to describe what happened during a gap, employers may decide that your reasons were frivolous, which is hardly the impression you'll want to make. It's best to fill in the missing information.
Whether you took a personal sabbatical to care for an aging parent or joined numerous trade associations to build your job-hunting network, I recommend presenting a plausible explanation that can help assure employers of your dedication to their needs.
4 - Your qualifications for a specific job type
Here is where your experience as a jack-of-all-trades will not be helpful. Why? Most job ads are written around a specific business need, and employers are (rightfully) trying to fill those particular requirements.
Your resume must spell out qualifications for an ideal executive role; otherwise, you're essentially asking employers to stretch their imaginations.
For example, if you've created marketing campaigns that generated results for your employers, be sure to create a marketing-focused resume that speaks to the effectiveness of your collateral and sales training information (even if your career contains business development and product management skills).
If you've held different job types such as Sales Manager and IT Director, you're best off creating 2 distinctly different resumes. You can also write an executive resume that shows employers how your skills set you up for a technical sales leadership role.
Again, this is different from the "general resume" concept adopted by many hopeful candidates.
5 - Your effect on the bottom line
Yes, companies ARE still hiring during this recession, but there's one commonality to the leaders they bring on board: the ability to make an impact to revenue or costs.
For job hunters in sales, summarizing their direct impact to the company's profitability is fairly simple, as they can state achievements in terms of revenue or sales increases.
However, if you're in a different occupation, dollar-driven comparisons can be tougher to make—-and this is where you'll need to dig deep to show profit-related impact.
For IT executives, bottom-line improvement usually comes in the form of projects that increased efficiency or automated manual tasks. If this fits your situation, do some research to find out what volume of hours or steps were saved with systems that you helped to implement.
If operations is your area of expertise, you can also point to time savings in terms of new processes or procedures—-both of which typically have a cost component associated with reduced hours. Taking it a step further, you can estimate the value of staff hours saved to arrive at a cost savings figure.
The more you look at your work in terms of benefit to the company, the easier it will be to include this vital information on your executive resume.
In summary, remember that your executive resume as a marketing document must speak to a specific audience about your value-add. You can influence an employer's hiring decision with a well-thought-out presentation that shows how you've met business needs, acted as a change agent, and conducted your leadership career.
Global resume authority Laura Smith-Proulx, CCMC, CPRW, CIC of An Expert Resume is a former recruiter who partners with CIO, CTO, CEO, COO, and CFO candidates to create compelling, powerful executive resumes. A national resume columnist and media source, her work opens doors to prestigious jobs at major corporations, and has been recognized with top resume writing awards.