Executives are always on the hunt for new career and talent development opportunities, even when they aren’t actively pursuing them. As an executive coach and consultant, I help hundreds of my clients stay up-to-date in the job market. You never know when that next once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will crop up. As Harvard Business School Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter once remarked, “To stay ahead, you must have your next idea waiting in the wings."
Three Resume Tips From An Experienced Executive Coach
1. Revamp your resume
Crafting an effective resume is a prerequisite to a successful job search. It’s critical that your resume stand out from the masses. According to research by job search website TheLadders.com, recruiters spend, on average, a mere 6.25 seconds evaluating a candidate’s resume before deciding whether the candidate is suited for the job.
My experience as an HR professional, as well as a former executive, has afforded me a deep understanding of, and appreciation for, the components of a winning resume. The most compelling resumes focus on showcasing a candidate's accomplishments. When outlining your previous experiences and positions, include concrete descriptions of the scope of your work, the extent of the impact, and the level of success achieved. For example, “Increased sales from $7M to $10M and cut costs by 15% during intense budget restrictions, exceeding expectations by 50%.” John Lees, a career strategist and the author of “Knockout CV”, explains, “Give tangible, concrete examples. If you’re able to attach percentages or dollar signs, people will pay even more attention.”
2. Craft your cover letter carefully
Many executives overlook the importance of the cover letter in the job search. They do so at their peril. Your cover letter is vital as it functions as your first touchpoint with recruiters and potential employers. It’s often most effective to keep your cover letter relatively short. According to research by Saddleback College, the majority (70%) of employers want cover letters that are no longer than a half of a page (approximately 250 words). Unless the job requirements state otherwise, it’s best to err on the short side.
The most common mistake associated with cover letter writing relates to positioning. Executives tend to exploit the cover letter as an opportunity to explain why a given position will help them advance in their careers. Instead, it’s most effective to emphasize what unique talents, skills, and experiences you offer. In order to determine why you are uniquely suited for the role, it's prudent to evaluate the key requirements of the job and research the company’s current initiatives and challenges. How does your skill set align with the job requirements and the company's future outlook? Jenny Foss, a job search expert and founder of JobJenny.com, explains, “Consider crafting a section within the letter that begins with, ‘Here’s what, specifically, I can deliver in this role.’ And then expound upon your strengths in a few of the priority requirements for that role.”
3. Update your social profiles
Your LinkedIn and other social profiles can act as galvanizing forces in terms of helping you attract the attention of recruiters and hiring managers. Ensure that you maintain up-to-date social profiles. Your LinkedIn profile should be structured as a condensed version of your resume. Maintaining up-to-date profiles will prevent onlookers from becoming suspicious of sudden large-scale updates. Prior to embarking on any job search, make sure you perform a social media “audit” and delete any potentially compromising photos, posts, or other content that might impair your professional image. If you opt to perform a complete revamp of your LinkedIn profile, be sure to disable updates so as to avoid spamming your network with a flood of notifications.
As an executive, it's crucial that you leverage your social profiles as opportunities to build your own personal brand. Jane Heifetz, founder and principal of Right Résumés, for example, advises tweaking the tone of your LinkedIn profile so that your personality comes across. She recommends writing your LinkedIn summary section in the first person as it “gives you the opportunity to present yourself as a living, breathing human being.”
It’s especially important to think carefully about your LinkedIn profile photo. According to research by TheLadders.com, of the 6.25 seconds that recruiters spend reading resumes, 19% of the time is spent fixating on the applicant’s photo (if there is one). In the context of your LinkedIn profile photo, your face should comprise at least 60% of the frame, you should be smiling, and you should be wearing professional attire.
American race car driving sensation Bobby Unser once said, “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” The most lucrative talent development and career opportunities unfold at the most unexpected times. As an executive coach, I’m committed to helping my clients maintain up-to-date job profiles so that they are primed to seize new career opportunities when they arise. As a result of my longstanding background as a former executive leader, I’m well equipped to assist my clients in crafting professional profiles that highlight their key skills, accomplishments, and experiences, while simultaneously conveying a professional and compelling personal brand image. To inquire about how you can receive some executive coaching to prepare you for your next job opportunity, contact me today! As Ralph Waldo Emerson reminds us, “Big jobs usually go to the men who prove their ability to outgrow small ones.”
Nadine Greiner, Ph.D. provides Executive Coaching and Human Resources solutions. Her mission is to make the executive experience exceptionally enjoyable and effective. She believes that the world needs great leaders, and has dedicated her career to helping them.
As an organization psychologist and former corporate CEO, Dr. Nadine understands the pressures and demands executives face. She offers her clients the high expertise that only comes with three decades of consulting success, and a dual Ph.D. in Organization Development and Clinical Psychology. Dr. Nadine is an in-demand speaker, teaches in doctoral programs, and coaches other consultants. She is the author of two books: ‘The Art of Executive Coaching: Secrets to Unlock Leadership Performance’, and of ‘Stress-less Leadership: How to Lead in Business and in Life’. amazon.com/author/nadinegreiner