Not every business leader is the same. No matter the industry, salary, or career stage, no two leaders come to the table with the same story. And while every professional should have a résumé as a tool to help establish their brand identity, I’ve noticed a pattern with advanced business leaders and executive-level clients. Typically, they tend to remain in their positions for long periods of time, thus making their résumés outdated and out of touch with what’s necessary to stand out in a saturated job market.
I’ve had clients tell me that they’ve never interviewed for a job before or ever had a résumé, since their opportunities came through word of mouth. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a great thing, since I’m an advocate for uncovering “hidden positions” through your network.
But that doesn’t replace establishing your personal brand, building a digital footprint, or setting yourself up as a leader in your field. Once you correct the following errors, you will be on your way to being recognized as not only the right candidate for any given position, but as a thought leader making an impact.
Error #1: Not Writing Your Résumé for Your Target Audience
It’s not easy to write about yourself, and what sounds great to you doesn’t necessarily meet the standards of your target audience of companies, executive recruiters, and hiring managers. Your audience matters when you’re writing anything, especially when it’s your résumé. Your audience determines how you present your information, so you have to keep the reader in mind during the writing process.
First, you must understand what they’re looking for. Ultimately, a hiring manager is looking for someone to solve their problem. If your résumé doesn’t present you as the number-one choice to solve that problem, it’s inadequate. In addition, when you’re writing with your target audience in mind, you don’t make assumptions.
No longer will you assume that the reader knows what you mean or add abbreviations without explanation. You know whom you’re writing for, so you focus on getting your impact across. If you make the reader search for the impact, they won’t. They’ll just move on to the next candidate.
Error #2: Offering No Brand Positioning
Brand positioning, otherwise known as brand strategy, is necessary to make you distinct from the rest of the applicant pool. It helps answer the questions “Why you?”, “Why here?”, and “Why now?” Your brand positioning must start from the moment someone looks at your résumé.
Your opening value position statement isn’t the place for abstract industry jargon that gives no insight into your expertise. It should deliver a compelling picture of how you want the reader to perceive your personal brand.
Once you set forth a brand positioning statement, it’s your job to reinforce it with concrete, impactful examples in your résumé. If your value position statement says you’re a fintech expert recognized for developing innovative IT and business solutions that increase profits while delivering cost reductions, but there’s nothing in your résumé that reinforces this statement, your claims are just filler with no substance.
Why should the reader believe you?
Without résumé brand positioning, your résumé is vague, unfocused, and lacking a competitive edge.
Error #3 - Not Telling a Complete Career Story
To solidify your résumé as high-caliber, you must show what you can do, not just simply tell. Follow the P-A-R method to ensure your achievements are complete. The achievements don’t have to be in P-A-R order, but you want all the pieces to be included.
P – Problems. What problem(s) were you hired to solve?
A – Actions. What did you do to correct the problem(s)?
R – Results. What were the results? Be as specific as possible, including metrics if possible. Hiring managers and recruiters love numbers! But only include benchmarks you can prove and discuss in-depth in an interview.
Slashed IT support costs 45% globally by developing and implementing central database and creating 6-week internal support training program that created 100 self-sufficient users.
In this example, you can see what the problem was (high support costs), the results (slashed costs 45% and created 100 self-sufficient users), and the actions (developing and implementing central database and creating a 6-week internal support training program).
I’m sure it’s been drilled in your head that you have a split second to communicate your worth on one to three sheets of paper. Correcting these errors will allow you to package your expertise in a way that can’t be ignored and that will advance your candidacy. Now it’s time to get specific about who you are and what you bring to the table.
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