J Patrick + Associates Blog

4 Executive Resume Rules You Should Break

Posted by Daniel Sullivan on Thu, May 21, 2015 @ 11:00 AM

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We’ve recently talked about How to Qualify & Apply Free Job Search Advice to Your Situation. While most of it is written with good intentions, not all of it should be taken into account.

One such example is when blogs and articles talk about common “rules” you should follow on your resume in order to get an executive position. You know which rules we’re talking about – keep it to one page, stretch the dates of employment if you were without work, leave out certain jobs, etc.

While these rules may work for some people, sometimes executives need to break them in order to get ahead. Read on to find out why.

Rule #1: Keep it to one page.

The idea behind the one page resume is that hiring managers and recruiters need to be able to glance at your work history quickly.

The hard truth is that even if your resume is only one page there’s no guarantee they’ll actually read it.

Instead of worrying about page count, try keeping your reader focused in 5 to 10 second increments so they keep scrolling down to read more. If it ends up being more than one page so be it.

Rule #2: Stretch your employment dates to avoid gaps.

This may have worked before the age of Google, but nowadays anyone can find out your work history with a simple internet search. In case you’re wondering, yes, recruiters are Must Use Social Media in Your Job Search.

And even if your entire life isn’t found online, background check technology can dig a lot deeper than it used to.

The reality is it’s gotten a lot harder to fudge dates and get away with it. So in order to avoid looking like you lied on your resume, you’re better off telling the entire truth.

The same concept applied for leaving out certain jobs. You may not want to do that depending on how relevant or recent the positions are. If you’re concerned about looking overqualified you can use a Previous Positions Held section in your resume.

Rule #3: Have an objective.

Objectives, at least in so far as using them to tell a company why you want the job, are about as outdated as acid wash jeans.

Companies really do not care about what they can do for you. What they do care about is what you can do for them.

With that being said, make the first part of your resume about showcasing your skill set and expertise in a way that will positively impact the company.

For example, if you are a Chief Marketing Officer you could write something along the lines of “Drives business volume through new product creation, innovative branding, effective merchandising and expansive communication distribution to increase profit growth.”  

Rule #4: Use an abundance of keywords so recruiters can find you.

There is nothing more irritating than reading a resume where the writer clearly did some keyword stuffing (except maybe having an objective). It’s the oldest trick in the online job hunting book, and it could actually do you more harm than good.

Are keywords important? Yes. But they must be used properly in order to make an impact.

Overusing them can actually make it more difficult to find you as new search engine algorithms get smarter about penalizing pages that cheat on SEO. Furthermore, even if a recruiter did manage to find your resume, it may not read very well. At the end of the day you are still writing a resume for a human.

Written by Lisa Rangel, Executive Resume Writer