Are you a prime candidate for a mid-level or senior-level leadership role?
If so, you have to shake up the way you tailor your resume for that position.
The way recruiters and hiring managers look for leadership candidates is a bit different than the way they search for candidates in other roles.
Before you apply to that leadership position, make sure you leverage these seven strategies to tailor your resume for maximum impact.
Revamp Your Resume's Keywords
As you may know, the computer databases, or Applicant Tracking Systems, that store and analyze incoming resumes for job board, employer, and recruiter sites, count the number of times certain words are used in your resume. These keywords are industry-specific and unique to each role in each company. Your resume ranks higher if you include more of these words in the document.
- Include a keyword section in your summary and stock it with 12 to 15 keywords pulled from the job description of the role you are pursuing.
- More importantly, use these keywords in each relevant job listing you include in your document. They can be easily woven into sentences in your position overview statements, as well as your achievements.
- If you're a new grad, have recently attained an MBA, or don't have all of the experience sought in the job posting you're submitting for, try listing relevant coursework in your resume's education section. This will boost your keyword count.
- Fairly universal keywords include terms such as strategic planning, operations leadership, business management, cross-functional, cross-cultural, global, talent management, organizational restructuring, and P&L accountability.
Re-Position Your Resume's Summary
Each time you apply for a new role, you need to tweak your career summary to maximize the number of keywords. You also need to emphasize the right capabilities.
When you apply for a leadership role, it is imperative to showcase your skills and experience with strategy creation. In lower-level jobs, you have to demonstrate your tactical execution strengths; in director-level plus positions, designing and implementing strategic plans is absolutely critical.
- Briefly describe the high points of your leadership experience in your summary. Relevant details you may want to include are things like key industries, sizes of companies you've worked for, the largest team size you've led, and the largest budget or P&L you've managed.
- Include brief descriptors of your leadership and communication style. These are less hard-hitting issues that deserve more attention on executive resumes. If you don't know your communication style, take this free quiz to find out what it is and how to use it to your advantage.
- Be sure to include your strategy experience in addition to listing strategic planning as one of your key skills.
- Consider including two or three brief (but meaningful) career achievements as part of your summary. Choose accomplishments which demonstrate your core leadership strengths and ability to deliver top and bottom-line impacts on sales, revenue, productivity, efficiency, and expense management.
Clarify The Context Of Each Position, Promotion, Or Achievement
One of a resume's key tasks is to tell the story of your career. Yours must convey the importance and relevance of each position change you've made while simultaneously clarifying the key challenges you faced in the role.
- Include a brief position overview or introduction to each role on your resume. If the position was a promotion or special assignment, make that clear.
- Showcase the context of your hire or promotion. Were you the first sales person in a new territory, or the newest manager in a series of five within a short time frame? Were you hired or promoted with specific challenges in mind? Were you hired or promoted based on specific skills or experience you possessed?
- If you were placed in the role to resolve specific challenges, it's vital to note the circumstances of your entry into the position. For example, if you were hired to turn around declining sales, what was the sales level when you started? What sales level did you attain or position during your tenure?
- Keep it brief. Your position introduction should take up only two to three lines of text. Make every word count!
- Do the same thing with your achievements by including key details that reveal the larger context of your actions. If you averted a division closure by turning around sales, that's vital to highlight. If your marketing efforts helped open new market sectors which paved the way for a mission-critical merger, say so. Don't just focus on results—put your results in a larger context that makes your overall contributions more clear.
Front-Load Your Resume’s Achievements With A Strategic Focus
Most job seekers assume that recruiters read resumes the same way that they do. However, that's not the case.
Many recruiters read a resume "out of order" (a.k.a in pieces and parts) to see the big picture of the prospective candidate's career. This often includes reading achievement statements differently than you and I do.
Before reading them in their entirety, some recruiters briefly review the first few words of each bulleted statement to test the waters, so to speak. They also do this to see if the accomplishments are more tactically or strategically focused. It's imperative that you front-load your achievements with the strategic focus they're looking for, assuming you have that experience.
- In leadership positions, your strategy influence is often a bigger deal than your monetary impact. Begin your bulleted statements by clarifying your strategic impact, then note the specific impacts you achieved.
- For example, here's a typical "homemade" bullet written by a real job seeker: "Working on a green field project that would double the capacity of the plant." Here's a revamp which shifts the emphasis to strategy: "Road mapped Greenfield plant start-up from strategic planning to on-time, on-budget rollout in 1 year. Outcome: Doubled throughput and increased revenue by $42M."
Align Your Education & Extra Sections With A Leadership Focus
It's always vital to include up-to-date listings of your educational credentials, including certifications, relevant affiliations, and professional development coursework. However, you shouldn't overlook other details that can bolster the leadership focus of your resume.
- Any evidence of your present or past leadership experience may be relevant. So, consider adding present or past volunteer leadership roles in professional or community organizations.
- Make sure you include any for profit or not-for-profit board or committee roles you have fulfilled. And if space permits, include key initiatives you have contributed to during your tenure on these boards or committees.
- Leadership courses completed at major grad schools deserve emphasis as well.
- When you list industry-specific certifications, include them in acronym form as well as spelled out because either form is a keyword.
- If you have won leadership awards or been selected for leadership development programs with any of your employers, make sure you note these.
Use The Job’s Title As Your Resume’s Title
This is a quick change but a critical one: make sure you insert the exact title of the position you're pursuing into your resume as its title. This will add more keywords to your resume, but, more importantly, it will shape the perception of your resume's readers to see you as qualified for the position you are targeting.
Now, this won't work if you apply for a leadership role for which you have few, if any, qualifications. However, if you are well-qualified for the position you're targeting and meet 75% or more of the role requirements, then this is a wise and appropriate thing to do.
Harness Your Career Brand In A Tagline
Whether you call it a tagline or a power statement, these single-line headlines are the perfect length to encapsulate a key leadership trait you possess along with your most influential and important career-long impacts.
These kinds of statements are big picture by nature, so they encompass the whole of your career rather than just your most recent role. Secondary or tertiary power statements can be used to spell out additional role-specific achievements.
- For example, here's the tagline used for an executive resume: "Fueled $12B in revenue career-long while delivering 3X investor returns." As you can see, short statements are more powerful when used as headlines; key details can be provided in the work history section of your resume.
- Let's say you're a leader with a turnaround history—that would be important to note in a key location. Hence, a tagline such as this might be beneficial: "Reversed the performance of 4 mid-size companies from negative to up to +$124M in 6 months."
All of the foregoing are content shifts you need to make in your resume to properly position yourself as a leadership candidate. In addition, consider overhauling your resume's “look and feel" to call attention to executive-level experience.
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This post was originally published on an earlier date.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a Work It Daily-approved expert and opinions are his/her own. Not all advice reflects Work It Daily guidance.
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