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3 Ways Your Executive Resume Falls Flat

3 Ways Your Executive Resume Falls Flat

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Seeking your next executive role? Does your resume capture the magnitude of what you’ve accomplished – or lack the punch needed to gain employer attention?

The problem might not be your experience, your career trajectory, or even your achievements. What many executive resumes lack is a standout presentation tuned to the industry and desired audience.

If you believe your executive resume needs a design boost or misses the mark when presenting your competitive ROI, you might be right! Here are three signs it’s time for a fresh presentation that matches your leadership energy and vision:

1. You Didn’t Think About The Font

Simple as it sounds, a default font can do you a disservice, either because it’s difficult to read or too low-level for your presentation.

If this is news to you, take a look at the research: even a few years back, the Adobe Acrobat blog ran a series on how sans serif fonts are easier to read online. (You can bet recruiters are looking at your electronic version long before a paper copy comes into play.)

On top of readability issues, a too-common font can also convey a lack of cutting-edge presentation skills. If you lead marketing teams or otherwise present forward-thinking, innovative ideas in your work, a bland font choice such as Arial can negate the positive impact of your words.

One of the best fonts for an easy-to-read resume, Calibri is useful in high-detail documents such as this CFO resume sample, which also shows how a serif font can be alternated for strong headings.

2. Your Resume Uses A One-Size-Fits-All Format

That stock Microsoft Word template (or anything like it) can spell trouble for your executive search. Why? Because formatting can make or break a marketing presentation, especially when the product is you.

Your executive resume should be as unique as your experience, with design elements that fit the target audience and exude a confident message of executive competency. Note this doesn’t mean incorporating color, graphics, charts, or other innovations, unless they’re in alignment with your personal story.

Still unconvinced? Take a look at some of the executive resumes considered among the world’s most innovative and compelling: winners of the 2013 global Toast of the Resume Industry competition.

Considered the gold standard in executive and professional resume writing, the TORI contest is judged by an international pool of recruiters, resume writers, hiring experts, and grammarians – with entries reflecting real-world executive job-hunting challenges.

3. Your Resume Strategy Is Nonexistent

Resume strategy? What’s that? A plan that’s put in place before any word hits your document, resume strategy is evident in the mix of design and word choice used to present you in the best light.

An effective executive resume strategy is obvious to resume writing experts, who can clearly spot the plan of attack used to overcome obstacles in your career, showcase complex achievements, or direct employer attention to the positives in your background.

If your resume shows a mixed bag of summary text, achievements, and work history (with no apparent thought to first- or second-page data placement, color, or formatting to distinguish you from others), then it’s likely that strategy didn’t come into play during the creative process.

The bottom line: there’s plenty of competition in the global executive job search marketplace. With so few chances to make an impression, your leadership resume must make a bold, memorable statement about your executive capabilities and ROI to employers.


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Laura Smith-Proulx

Laura Smith-Proulx, Executive Director of An Expert Resume, is a resume industry leader, 13-time global TORI resume award winner, LinkedIn expert, author, personal brand strategist, and former recruiter with 20+ years of experience winning choice jobs for executives and rising leaders.