Kick your job search into gear with best executive job search tips for the new year.
With so much information online and so many ‘Top 10 Resume Writing Services for Executives’ claims, how do you discern which advice you should follow?
I’ve selectively invited respected and long-tenured resume writing and career coaching colleagues to weigh in and provide best practices to help you launch a successful 2019 job search campaign.
The following professional resume writers and career coaches are subject matter experts and highly regarded within the resume writing and coaching industry for their trending insights, trustworthy business practices and record of success helping executives reach next-level results. Here is what they had to say. Listen closely because this advice is coming from top-tier experts. You’re welcome.
Oh, and whatever you do, my advice is to launch the job search campaign. Plan it now and hit the ground running in 2019. Hesitation is your worst enemy. Good luck!
1. Be Intentional in Your Online Persona and Brand (Rosa Vargas, Career Steering)
As analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence evolve, it will become ever more imperative that your online executive brand is robust and expansive–beyond setting up your social profile on popular social media portals such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
As an executive, your personal brand is critical to your company’s digital equity and so not only is being on social media going to keep your brand relevant, but your online activity across business forums and the surfing trail you leave behind (YouTube, purchases, reading subscriptions) also will play a role in helping define your online DNA.
This means you must be intentional in not only establishing your online persona, but also steering and energizing your brand’s digital footprint with your own personal website, thought leadership posts, LinkedIn articles and press releases to share your / your company’s milestones. You must guide your brand’s online traction and become the proactive architect of your digital story.
2. Don't Ignore Your LinkedIn Profile (Erin Kennedy, Exclusive Executive Resumes)
It’s easy to let your LinkedIn profile lag when you don’t need it. However, when you are in job search mode, it can be the difference between leading the next organization or not. Most hiring managers and recruiters use LinkedIn to find their next star. If your profile isn’t current, you’re hurting your chances of being discovered.
Even if you dread the thought of it, update your LinkedIn profile with your current story, or at least the last 10-15 years when you’ve had the most progression in your career. Don’t forget to create an interesting career summary as well. Just a little investment of time and effort on LinkedIn goes a long way.
3. Don't Be Afraid to Take Classes and Include Them on Your Resume (Dawn Rasmussen, Pathfinder Careers)
Boards and employers are interested in seeing how executives are willing to keep learning. This is, after all, a test to see how you can innovate and carry this company forward.
So, actively seek out professional development opportunities that are particularly thought-leadership oriented. Understanding where the industry or economy will potentially take the organization will be critical for the next executive. And you can demonstrate that progressive knowledge acquisition and cutting-edge understanding of opportunities and challenges to not only evolve the organization but also stand out among competitors.
4. Use Research-Backed Design Elements (Marie Zimenoff, Resume Writing Academy)
You’ve probably heard that recruiters spend about 6 seconds in the initial review of your resume. What you might not know is that you can increase the amount of content they consume in that short time with your formatting choices. Although aesthetics are an important consideration in resume design, there are strategies that research shows increase readability. These include using lines, borders, or shading to move the eye through the document; putting the most important content to the left of the page where readers will skim; and using white space to create chunks of content that make it easy for a reader to locate what they are looking for in your document.
Research also shows that the use of one color will increase a reader’s attraction to your document. Keep your design clean and professional, but don’t be afraid to use elements that improve readability and draw the reader to the critical information while creating a distinct look. Don’t buy into the myths that these formatting features harm your score in an applicant tracking system. Create a visually appealing, highly readable Word document using these elements and it will be fine in ATS, via email, or any other way you want to share it with your network and recruiters
5. Vet Your Writer Carefully (Donna Svei, Avid Careerist)
It’s important that you respect the writer’s work. When you look at the writer’s samples, verify that the resume represents a real person. It’s much easier to write a good fictitious resume than a resume for a real person.
6. Break Away from Chronological Resume Format and Tell the Story Behind Your Career Progression (Annette Richmond, Career Intelligence Resume Writing)
Take time to think about your career trajectory when writing your executive resume. Were you recruited by a competitor or former client? Were you promoted because you landed a big client or developed a process that was adopted company-wide? The story behind your promotion can make a difference.
One of the reasons employers prefer reverse-chronological resumes is because they show a candidate’s career progression. But, once you’ve reached the executive level you need to show momentum.
Let’s say you’ve been promoted 3 times since being recruited by your current employer. That’s great. But, being promoted based on your achievements is better. For example, after 2 years with ABC Company the manager of another department recruited you to come and work for her. She picked you to run the product merchandising team because she liked your work on an interdepartmental project. That’s more impressive than being promoted due to seniority.
7. Evaluate the Executive Resume Writer's Recommendations & Expertise Beyond Resume Development (Lisa Rangel, Chameleon Resumes)
Verify the writer’s success in the form of client job changes that are similar to the caliber of position you seek. Your resume writer should help you utilize the marketing documents they created for you and position you to land your dream job.
Look at the quality of their LinkedIn recommendations: Are the recommendations from actual clients? Are these clients who have held similar titles as you? Has the recommender had a successful job change resulting from using the writer? Landing your dream job depends on so much more than the resume—ensure you are hiring a successful job search strategist who understands the overall recruiting process, of which the resume is one part of that process.
8. Be Bold - Go Direct (Mary Elizabeth Bradford, maryelizabethbradford.com)
Do you have a favorite list of companies you would like to work with? Why not reach out to them directly?
If you are an executive level – this technique is especially effective and involves simply reaching out to another CEO or top title to see if the timing is right that they may want to speak with you – as you are currently vetting new opportunities.
It’s important to understand the spirit in which you are reaching out is entrepreneurial – rather than sales or marketing driven. It works in part because at the $300K+ level, only about 10% of positions available show up online. So by reaching out directly you do a few things:
- You demonstrate your initiative and strategic leadership.
- You capitalize on the 90% of potential for unadvertised positions or positions that are being filled quietly.
- You potentially save the company not only time, but a hefty recruiter search fee.
Early interest before job parameters are carved in stone and sitting with a board, HR, recruiters or a combination thereof are often much more flexible and you can affect the evolution of the terms.
Look for companies that are moving, growing, expanding or in M&A mode. Look for growing industries too – vs. those that are flat, in decline or disrupted – unless you are a solution provider to those kinds of issues and that interests you.
9. Executive Summaries & Job Descriptions: Long Story Short (Sandra Ingemansen, Resume Strategies)
There’s a way to engage readers in your career story in half the time and make sure they remember about 34% more content.
Who wouldn’t want to make themselves more memorable to executive hiring decision makers, right? Here are some key takeaways that take human reading behavior into account:
- Write tighter to shorten lines of text.
- Compose compelling, well-written headline statements. (The Poynter’s Eyetrack III study noted that readers only read 2 to 3 words of a headline, so make your opening header a good one!)
- Frontload your main points first, because readers do the same thing for body text.
- Use sub-headlines to categorize critical points into scannable information.
Basic Design Devices
Increase white space so that readers aren’t hampered by clutter.
- Create simple navigational structures for both written and visual content.
- Change long paragraphed content to bulleted items. (BEWARE “death by bullets”; more than 5 bullet points defeats the purpose of this strategy.)
- Bold important information. (NOTE: be strategic with your “to bold or not to bold” methodology; too much and your reader is faced with even more clutter.)
- Use relevant visual cues that support the most important written content. (CAREFUL: incorporating “dead weight” visuals can do much more harm than good. Leave it to a career marketing professional if this isn’t your forte.)
The Nielsen study relays that these strategies increased reader comprehension 12% and provided a more satisfying reader experience.
10. It's Always About the Impact (Martin Weitzman, executiveresumewriter.com)
In developing your resume, LinkedIn Profile and other related career documents, it is always about ‘how much and your impact on the company.’
How much did you help them save, how much did you help them make, or what did you do to support your company’s cost or revenue goals? What issues was the company facing and what did you achieve in resolving those issues.
Potential employers want to believe you can help them.
10. Master Your Elevator Pitch to Leverage Your Personal Brand (Wendi M. Weiner, www.writingguru.net)
One of the most overlooked aspects of the job search strategy is the elevator pitch. Your elevator pitch is formulated by leveraging your unique value proposition and what truly separates you in your industry or niche. Mastering your elevator pitch should be a priority before you delve into updating your resume or crafting your LinkedIn profile.
The job search landscape has changed dramatically in the digital age. Without a personal brand or a clear elevator pitch, it is difficult to stand out, and rise above, particularly as an executive leader. Assessments such as the Reach 360 can help define those brand personas and leadership capabilities. Brand strategy coaching can help you understand the key skill sets that truly shape your unique value.
Bonus Tip: (Laura Smith-Proulx, An Expert Resume)
As we step into 2019, your executive job search and resume presentation can no longer be simply tack on your latest position and expect recruiters to call.
Instead, take the time to define and leverage your passion in your executive resume and LinkedIn Profile using 2019 trends.
What distinguishes you and how do you leave a legacy of results? Fill your resume and social media activity with examples that clearly set you apart from other executives. Next, build a bucket list of target employers and industries to pursue, using strategically planned communications, while continuing to network. Summarize your personal brand with short, powerful statements of value that describe what you achieve and how you deliver ROI to employers.
Bonus Tip: Use a Storytelling Arc to Energize Your Career Narrative (Jacqui-Barrett Poindexter, Career Trend)
Everyone says that a resume should actually be written as a story, an idea with which I agree. But, what does that really mean?
Simply put, your resume achievements should be composed in a way that articulates a beginning, a middle and an end, and includes a story climax, where the rising action starts to fall, requiring a solution or conclusion (pivotal moment).
The story arc should show how you (the candidate) were a crucial character in your company’s rag to riches story, for example. The company, and the departments therein, may experience several rise and fall story arcs throughout your tenure, and as such, your resume should present those mini-stories within the larger story.
The point is to draw the reader in, create the drama of the scenario (who, what, where, when, why, how) and ultimately sway the reader that you were influential, using both your hard and soft skills, to effectuate a financial climb (or rise) in the story arc, culminating in a better profitability and market share outcome than before you joined the executive team.