You never know when your career is really going to take off. I certainly didn't - I came from a family of engineers, so I grew up expecting to become an engineer, too. However, a chance encounter wound up completely changing my career path. I was working as a design engineer for a firm on Long Island. The job gave me the opportunity to meet and work with clients from Wall Street and Hollywood. We were developing a mansion in the Hamptons for one of those famous people when my career epiphany took place. I knew nothing about the client who had commissioned us to build the estate, and I only met him at a series of meetings where I represented my firm. But, without meaning to, that client totally altered the rest of my career. The client in question was Ron Perelman, a billionaire private equity investor and philanthropist. We met a number of times to discuss the house he wanted built, and after a few meetings I worked up the courage to ask him some questions about the deals his company (MacAndrews & Forbes) was doing. He was surprisingly warm and inviting; even though I was only a novice in the world of finance, he took the time to listen and respond to each of my questions in turn. Not only that, he challenged me to come back with even stronger questions - and I did. When Ron asked me what had sparked my interest in the markets, I told him that, because of my family's engineering background, I had never really considered pursuing a career in finance. But he pointed out that I had a skill set that would translate well to the corporate world - that I was bright, worked well with others and had a creative streak. While I didn't yet have the skills I would need to thrive on Wall Street, he said, I had all the basic tools necessary for a successful finance career. Our talk inspired me to think differently about the direction I wanted to take with my professional life. It also demonstrated to me the importance of being both curious and willing to ask disruptive questions, even when you think it's not your place to be a questioner. Usually, there are great people right in front of you whom you have to give yourself a chance to just talk to. Asking questions of those people can open up a galaxy of opportunities for you. But you have to be unafraid to speak up, and be open to the possibility that what you hear can completely reorient your life and your priorities. That's what happened when I met Ron Perelman, and it could happen to you, too. Want to learn more about Rich's career path (or have him help you secure YOUR dream job)? You can connect with Rich - and more than 200 other professionals in finance, consulting or the corporate world - through Blue Chip Career. Visit BlueChipCareer.com to get started - and enter the coupon code BCC at checkout to save $10 on your first purchase! Blue Chip Career is an online mentor network that levels the job search playing field by making top executives accessible. Through their platform, any job seeker can connect with an experienced mentor for personalized job search guidance. Question career direction image from Shutterstock
As an executive, your resume is probably filled with lots of accomplishments and career experience. You might feel like you're qualified for the positions you are applying for, and maybe even believe you're the best possible candidate for them. But, is your resume really sending that message?
Executives have to be aware of how they present themselves in their career, and the hiring process is no exception. They have to think about their executive presence—and how their executive presence translates to their resume—if they want to attract and gain access to career opportunities.
Here's the #1 mistake executives make on their resume, and how to fix it.
#1 Mistake Executives Make? Looking Narcissistic and Desperate.
The number one mistake executives make on their resume is looking narcissistic and desperate. The reason? They're using outdated resume templates.
When you have an overdone resume with script fonts, tons of self-important paragraphs about how awesome you are written in the third person, and italicized, bold, and underlined areas, it's just too much. It screams old school. It screams full of yourself. It looks like you're trying too hard and it sends the wrong message. Not to mention the applicant tracking systems (ATS) can't effectively read those things, so you'll probably get screened out of the hiring process before a human being even looks at your resume.
As an executive, you have to think about that first impression: how you're formatting your resume and what you're choosing to put on it. Also, think about the translation in terms of the three components of executive presence: gravitas (depth of knowledge), communication (delivery of knowledge), and appearance (style of delivery). How you're choosing to present these things matters deeply because so much will get lost in translation on your resume if you don't do it correctly.
So, how do you create an executive resume that impresses employers without looking narcissistic and desperate?
Focus On Intellectual Humility & Emotional Intelligence
Executives should focus on intellectual humility and emotional intelligence when creating their resume to avoid looking narcissistic and desperate.
How do you write and format a resume that shows intellectual humility and emotional intelligence? Well, first take out all of the subjective text and superlatives and only include facts. Recruiters and hiring managers just want to know the numbers. What were the results? Quantify your work experience and accomplishments. You don't need to hype it up, which leads us to what they call empty space or white space.
You should see a shockingly large amount of white space on your executive resume. It's going to feel weird, but it's intentional. Simplification helps the reader focus their eyes on the most important stuff. This means you should also simplify your formatting.
On your executive resume, use an 11 pt., clean-line font like Arial or Calibri, not a script font like Times New Roman. Also, make sure you have one-inch margins to further ensure that white space effect, and no bold, italics, or underlining except in very specific places because what happens when something is bold, for example, is that the eye goes there. Knowing how to bold something strategically on your resume is key because studies show recruiters and headhunters spend an average of six seconds skimming your resume. If they do not see in those first six seconds the most important things they were told to assess you on, they won't take a deeper look.
The point of the executive resume is to force the recruiter to contact you, to force the people who are interested in your brand to contact you. Too much content, and it's easier for them to dismiss you. This is what we mean about intellectual humility and emotional intelligence—to know not to oversell yourself. You don't want to oversell yourself. So, if a recruiter tells you they needed more information and that forced them to call you, you know your resume has been written and formatted correctly, and you didn't come across as narcissistic or desperate. You came across as an executive with intellectual humility and emotional intelligence who effectively translated their executive presence on their resume.
Want To Learn How To Build Your Executive Presence?
If you're an executive looking to advance in your career, you need to make your executive presence a priority. This includes your online executive presence. Failing to consistently contribute online in a meaningful way will put you on the fast track to being irrelevant and forgotten.
Join J.T. O'Donnell, LinkedIn Influencer and founder and CEO of Work It Daily, for this 3-hour live class designed to help you overcome these hurdles and stand out in the new normal of 2021 and beyond.
During this class, you will learn how to:
- Assess your executive presence to determine what you should convey online
- Make your resume, LinkedIn profile, and other professional branding tools say more by intentionally sharing less
- Create a "content tree" to ensure you always have plenty to share online
- Select the right types of content to share to maximize your ROI
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Every time I start a project, I get this tiny moment of panic. It doesn't last long, but even now, after years in this business, I still notice that it happens.
It has a long and technical name, but in portfolio school, we just called it "fear of the blank page." It's that anxiety-inducing few moments right before getting started on something. I may have had 253 ideas buzzing around my head after a client meeting, and I am excited to get started on the project, but inevitably, and just for a short moment, this blank page panic happens when I sit down to get started.
What Makes A Blank Page So Scary?
In the blankness, the page carries endless possibilities, which is great, right? On the flip side of that, one finds internal resistance and a fear of failure. Your mind will tell you, "Hey, it could be great…but then again, it could also be total disaster." As humans, we are built to avoid the thing that causes fear. This aversion to fear is what has kept us alive for thousands of years.
For as long as I can remember, I have had a love-hate relationship with fear. For me, recognizing that fear was the only thing keeping me from doing a thing, and then deciding to do it anyway, has pushed me. Pushed me way, way, WAY out of my comfort zone at times. And it turns out that is a great thing. All of the achievements I am really proud of in my life were things that would not have happened if I had given in to my fears.
Why then do I still get that tinge of fear, even after all of these years for something as simple as getting started on a project? My thought on that is simple. It means I still care. I still want the outcome to be amazing. I still want to go past what I know and explore a new place, which is still scary, but worth it.
Taming That Tinge Of Fear
Like most things, you get better at it with practice. Fear works the same way. If you keep leaning into it, it may still be there, but the time it takes to push past it dwindles. Say you are skydiving. The first time you jump, it probably took a whole lot longer to be ready to jump out of a plane than it did the 100th time. It is still the same element of danger, and same fear, but you have practiced taming it.
Now, about putting it into actual practice. It's very simple, stupid simple actually. I start with a brain dump of all the ideas in my head after a client meeting or about the project in general. It is an easy way to just get something on paper. It doesn't have to be perfect or even logical. It's just for you. The act of getting started IS the practice.
The rest of the work will fall into place once you get pen to paper. Some ideas you work on growing, others you let go. With practice, leaning into your fears gets easier to do, as does tackling the blank page.
If you have strategies you use for getting started or pushing past your internal resistance, I would love to hear them!
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