In a tight job market, it is fascinating how many senior level and aspiring executives shoot themselves in the career foot with mediocre or bad resumes, or with a resume that contains major mistakes.
There is no shortage of books, columns and blogs that provide guidance in resume development, outlining the rules of what you should, or should not do. But judging by 200 resumes of executives that I have reviewed over the past three months in connection with research for a career management book I am writing, our advice is being ignored, or that the ample career management knowledge base is one of the best kept secrets in MBA programs.
Some of the errors reflect carelessness. Those are easily fixed. Others are structurally flawed and need to be reworked. But the vast majority of the resumes do not do their intended job, as a first interview, to get the candidate to the next level of the recruitment process.
It has always amazed me how many people just list on their resume the name of their employer, their title and term of employment. They do not explain who the employer is or what services they provide. Finally, the candidates frequently use dot points to explain their scope of responsibility while failing to list any of their accomplishments, or explain the value they could bring to a prospective employer. They wonder why they were eliminated so early in a search.
In competitive senior executive searches, virtually every candidate is qualified. The vast majority has a master’s degree and, in healthcare, increasing numbers hold a Fellowship in the American College of Healthcare Executives, a certification that shows they have the requisite current knowledge. The resume, therefore, should be that part of your personal career brand which helps distinguish you from everyone else. That is why candidates should/must list the significant accomplishments that reflect their success and value contribution. Moreover, as a general rule, recruiters focus on candidates whose resumes clearly demonstrate that they have produced positive results. Candidates should never assume that their advancement to positions of more responsibility is sufficient evidence of success.
Here are a few examples of the most common problems I noticed when reviewing the 200 resumes:
There are a lot of career management consultants in the market. If you pay someone for advice, and if what they tell you to do doesn’t have that certain ring of common sense, or it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
For a free copy of John Self’s resume guide, click here.
© 2012 John Gregory Self
© 2021 John Gregory Self