Poor quality resumes, even some from the better known outplacement consultants, continue to plague the search process and frustrate recruiters and clients.

In reviewing resumes from our last several engagements, the vast majority had several major failings: pertinent information not included, the resume did not address the requisite experience and skills, formatting was inconsistent, and a few had grammar or spelling issues.

As the job market has become more competitive and complex and given the expansion of resume scanning technology commonly known as Automatic Tracking Systems (ATS), the quality of resumes is not keeping pace. Executives and managers are being eliminated based on the quality of their resumes and apparently they do not have a clue given the fact they keep sending out the same one for each job they pursue.

Everyone has an opinion about what a good resume should look like. This example is based on conversations I have had with talent acquisition managers and executive recruiters who work on C-suite assignments.

Your Name, FACHE or other Professional credential

(Only use degrees that are “terminal” in the field, MD, DO, Dr.PH, PhD, etc.)
Home address
City, state and zip code
Preferred telephone number. Designate whether it is home, office or cell (h, o, c)
Your email (make it an active link)
Your LinkedIn URL (make it an active link)

Professional Summary

This is where you should customize your summary to address the issues identified in the job posting, or from the recruiter. The more you understand what they are looking for the better off you will be. An amazing number of candidates do not think to ask and that places them at a disadvantage. At a minimum I would include the number of years experience and use phrases (where appropriate) of consistent, successful, met or exceeded budget, etc. If they are looking for an executive who is an experienced change agent and you have been successful, then say it. Whenever possible use the same phrases that the client or recruiter used in the position summary. If you initially submitted your generic resume because you did not have any insight into what the prospective employer was looking for, immediately resubmit an “updated resume” once you have that information. You want to use metrics whenever possible to emphasize your success and highlight those that align with the needs of the employer.


(Start with your most recent employment.)

XYZ Medical Center

Bumtussle, Mo.

Here is where you describe the organization. If they are Magnet, Top 100, Four or five star designee, market leader, etc. – anything that will reinforce that you are a top executive and this employer was a top organization. The impression you want to leave is this: They are a good organization and they hired me! Limit this description to three or four sentences, max. Be clear but use your business prose.

Your Title

In three or four sentences describe your scope of responsibility. This is important, so if you are not perfectly satisfied then rewrite it until you feel it is perfect. Cover your major responsibilities but do not get too detailed with the exception of specifically addressing issues that the prospective employer is seeking.

  • Use the bullets for accomplishments. Do not mix scope of responsibility with your accomplishments, a common resume mistake
  • Always list your best accomplishment, the one with the most impact, first. The exception to this rule might be to substitute that for something that the prospective employer is stressing
  • Remember, this document will be speaking for you in the first interview – the initial resume review. (IRR). The IRR frequently decides who will move to the next phase of the search so submit a resume that tells your compelling story
  • Always use quantifiable metrics in your accomplishments and use those that are relevant to the job you are pursuing
  • Avoid 10 accomplishments on one job resume entry and then only two on the next. That sort of disparity is what we call an eyebrow raiser! We recommend five or so for each position

Replicate this format for each of your previous employers. It is important to be consistent in your formatting.

Academic & Professional Credentials

  • List your highest degree first. List the city and state where the college or university is located. (This information is verified through a national clearinghouse so specify which campus you attended if it is one with multiple sites)
  • This is where you list your memberships in professional organizations like
  • If you have gone through other fellowship training programs, for example, The Advisory Board, then list it here.

Honors & Community Activities 

  • List your current or active memberships
  • List your titles of any board appointments, etc
  • If you have received honors, such Rotarian of the Year, list them here
  • If you have unique honors, such as Eagle Scout or any leadership or service recognitions from the military, or academic honor such as Phi Beta Kappa, they, too, should be listed here

If you have questions about your resume, you can email me at AsktheRecruiter@JohnGSelf.Com.

If you are facing a lay off or possible termination for other reasons, learn more about the firm’s Career Transition practice.

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