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By Steven Provenzano, CPRW/CEIP and author: Top Secret Executive Resumes.

These days, many executives I meet downplay their resume as just a piece of paper that usually doesn’t work. Maybe you’ve said to yourself, “My resume isn’t perfect, but I’ll explain myself in the interview”.

But here’s the catch: Even top-flight executives can have trouble writing a decent resume. They’re not sure how to make the link between what they really want to DO in their next job with the needs of potential employers. An effective job hunt means having a complete, professional job search strategy, and your resume must be a key part of that strategy.

Here are some of the latest, Key Factors and philosophies I’ve used with great success over the past 15 years. They help explain why most (possibly yours) resumes fail, and how you can really stand above the crowd and get noticed.

First and Foremost: Tell Employers What They Really Want to Know!
Look at the hiring process from the employer’s point of view. There you are with a stack of resumes on your desk and a job to fill, right now. You’ve got some key requirements that candidates must meet before you’ll even consider calling them in for an interview. All you want to know from each person “sitting” on your desk is: What can you do for me? How can you fill this job effectively? Why should I talk to you? So you start reading resumes and you see the same old stuff employers have been getting for decades: page after page of job descriptions, A.K.A. Chronological resumes.

But wait a minute. As an employer, I want to see what you can do for me, but all you’re telling me is what you’ve done for someone else. Of course this is important, and I need to review your previous work experience and accomplishments. But does all this really apply to my situation? Of course not, and I really don’t have time to read 10 or 20 years of your work history before I decide to call you in. This is why purely Chronological resumes, for the most part, are on the way out, and why the next Key Factor is so important:

Consistently Market Your Skills and Abilities
Take a moment and really think about what this means. Does your current resume really market your most applicable skills and abilities, or is it a listing of your past? You must extract your most applicable skills and abilities from your past work experience and sell them at the very top of your resume in a summary section, titled PROFILE or EXPERIENCE.

I spoke with two top recruiters at Motorola headquarters in Schaumburg, IL. Billy Dexter is Manager of University Relations and Rodney Gee is a Manager of Staffing.

“We don’t have much time to look at a resume, so it must have structure and consistency” said Dexter. “If a resume is too broad, we’ll pass it over. Tell us about special projects, skill sets, computer languages, leadership activities, people or team-leading skills. If I have to search through a resume for these items, I probably won’t read it.” Your Summary gives you control over your resume, and lets you focus on these key points.

Remember that the Summary section in a Combination resume is not about previous jobs, but develops those skills and abilities you believe are most important and relevant to the position you’re seeking right now. Your skills must be isolated and sold to the reader, this is the heart of a Combination resume format. It only works if you use clear, concise language describing tangible, no-nonsense skills: “Skilled in payroll processing, audits, and inventory control… “Effectively hire, train, and supervise staff in… “Plan and implement strategies for capital investment…” and so on.

“Pre-Digest” Your Information
Most resumes get only a few short seconds to grab the reader’s attention. Research the company’s brochure, annual report and job advertisement, if any, and tailor your resume as much as possible to the position. A Chronological resume, no matter how well it’s written, is still a listing of your past, and therefore not job-specific or future-oriented.

A resume that’s only slightly more effective than the one you have now could help you get a job weeks, or even months faster than your old resume. Your resume is your life, your career on paper. Isn’t it worth doing right?

For a free, confidential review of your career materials, send to Careers@EXECareers.net, or call 630-289-6222; Toll Free: 877-610-6810.

Steven Provenzano, CPRW/CEIP, is a former executive recruiter and author of six career books including Top Secret Executive Resumes. He is President of an Executive Career Marketing and Coaching firm, ECS: Executive Career Services & DeskTop Publishing, Inc., specializing in individual career coaching, resume development/distribution through CPRWs, corporate outplacement, career marketing seminars, and executive networking. He has appeared numerous times on CNBC, CNN/fn, NBC-5 and ABC-7 in Chicago, on numerous radio programs and is endorsed by the Chicago Tribune.

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