When is the first time that an executive is identified as being out of date, no longer ready for prime time, a bad risk for recruiters to recommend to clients?
When they submit an out of date resume, a format and content straight out of the 80s or 90s. Or a resume with mistakes, including an incorrect email address. How about the candidate who misspelled his own name at the top of his resume? (To be fair it was probably just a typo, but that’s an important detail.)
No way, you say. How could anyone be that careless, that bad?
Line up. The list is long and, surprisingly, sometimes distinguished. I have seen it three times over the last several months.
So, here we go, one more time.
Bad resumes are a primary reason that even seemingly well qualified executives are eliminated from a search. When you tell them they are out and then explain why, they may nod and say thank you, but that does not mean they will change. You can almost hear them say, Oh gosh, this is such a hassle. I don’t want to go to the trouble. And that is the part of the process that absolutely amazes me because the resume is what initially defines a candidate in the eyes of a recruiter. So many candidates cannot fathom that they are not doing all that it takes to land their next job.
Some of the worst resumes come from professional resume consultants with an appalling lack of awareness of how the job market is changing.
Clients and their recruiters are zeroing in on your value. Yes, experience is important, but we are more interested in the value you can deliver. This means you must change your resume and how you tell your story if you want to be competitive. At a minimum this means you must customize your resume to address the specific needs of the client. So, as I have said several dozen times over the last 24 months, you cannot submit the same exact resume to every client, I do not care who the heck created it for you. Yes, that takes a little effort, but it will be what differentiates you from everyone else, assuming you meet the selection criteria.
So, if you are an accomplished executive, why would you want to position yourself, using a resume, to be like everyone else.
Today I saw a resume from an executive with 20+ plus years at several “quality” medium sized hospitals. It was a disgrace as resumes go.
- His email address was wrong. It bounced three times. After the second attempt, I marked his database record: NO WAY! Someone that sloppy should not be allowed to run a business where the lives of patients are at stake.
- He listed his education at the top of his resume of his experience. While your academic credentials are important, no one hires based solely on your degrees. We want people who can tell us how they can solve the problem a client is facing. Listing your academic credentials is what recent college graduates do. For the seasoned executive, they belong at the bottom.
- He listed his master’s degree after his name, before his Fellowship designation, another no-no. Never list a degree after your name unless it is considered terminal, the highest degree in the field (PhD, for example). An MBA or MHA does NOT qualify as a terminal degree. By the way, the professional resume consultant from the outplacement firm listed his FACHE credential fourth or fifth below his Chamber of Commerce board membership. It should have been front and center after his name at the top of the resume, especially since it was a strongly preferred requirement in the search.
- He did not explain his employers, a description of the business, size or location. After reading this entire entry, including his reported scope of responsibility I still had no clue what his jobs were all about.
- Speaking of his scope of responsibility, he did include that, endlessly from the significant to the mundane, but no mention that he accomplished absolutely anything.
Here are some other bad ideas for executive resumes sent to recruiters:
- List your home address. Hey, you’re an executive. Recruiters want to know where you live, or what you might be hiding if you do not list your address. Maybe as a lower level manager you can get away with that, but not as a candidate for a senior leadership position.
- Provide a correct personal email address. Do not use your work address if you are engaged in a confidential search. It may not be that confidential if your email passes through the corporate email system as the courts have ruled there is no expectation of privacy when you use your company email program.
- Stop with the colors and boxes. Jobs are awarded based on your value and your relevant experience in meeting need, not that you have red, white and blue all over the first page. Do not let some resume expert mislead you. You are a senior executive not a candidate for high school cheerleader.
- Stop adding “AAA” in front of your name in the file name of your resume in hopes that this trick will somehow push your resume to the top of some mythical digital list. The only benefit to doing this is that you may get permanently lost in the search database. Besides you are simply dating yourself. It is so 1990s.