It just happened: the executive position you’ve been waiting for at your current employer opened up, and you’re expected to apply. However, there’s one small problem to take care of before you toss your hat in the ring: your old resume won’t cut it.
If you haven’t spent any time in recent years examining (and reworking) the content and strategy behind your executive resume, now’s the best time to start. After all, keeping your resume in top shape should be a goal as you rise up the corporate ladder – even WITHOUT an internal promotion to consider.
In addition, you’ll find that executive resumes differ substantially from what you may have used to land your current role. Personal branding headlines, alignment with your LinkedIn Profile, and Challenge-Action-Result formats will all take center stage in 2016 and beyond as the executive resume continues to evolve into a dynamic marketing document. The following points illustrate reasons why your executive resume must be reworked for a promotion, if not on a regular basis:
Your memory of your career differs from that of your colleagues or boss.
How you remember your career – the big moments, the hard-won achievements, or the exhausting degree program – isn’t the way your boss or co-workers picture it. They might believe you sailed in on a manager’s recommendation, or they don’t know what you did to earn your spot. Updating your resume for an executive promotion gives you the chance to tell them!
This example of a CEO and President resume shows how a short infographic and list of profit achievements (“20% margin increase to 58% in 2 years,” “80% over target,” “margin expansion to 70%”) can help your employer recall your history of consistent results.
So, spend some time digging up the good stories from your past, including the ones that describe your first post-college promotion and that massive project from a few years back. Be sure to note the commendations you received from other department heads or the tasks you volunteered for when the team was facing new challenges. The bottom line: others won’t remember all of your accomplishments, unless you take the time to remind them.
You need a better story to hit the big leagues.
Your old resume (the one that reads like an obituary) was fine when you landed your first job at the company. Now that you’re aspiring to the corner office, it’s a different story. If you’re still adding content to the first page of your resume, pushing down the older jobs and then realizing you’ve created a five-page document, it’s time to stop. No one will read far enough to realize why you should be interviewed for an executive job.
Besides adding fresh information on your executive performance, you’ll need to trim the older information on your resume. Employers are interested in mostly the last 15 years of your career, so earlier experience can be condensed to show career progression and the scope of your authority. For example, a VP of Sales could add a brief section that states “Other positions include Sales Manager, Territory Representative, and Sales Executive accountable for up to a 5-state region and $32M in revenue.”
Even after you improve your new executive resume, you’ll need to run it past a few people who know your work. They’ll be able to spot the notable wins you missed, or important aspects of your reputation, such as the fact that you’ve exceeded performance targets every quarter or trained a new leadership team.
You’ll be expected to compete with outsiders for an executive job.
No matter how well-known you are at work, there’s always the threat of an external hire, particularly if an executive recruiter is handling the search (which means your newly revised executive resume must go head-to-head with that of your competition). By providing a fresh look and strategy in alignment with resume trends, while ensuring the document represents your unique performance, you’ll be in a better position to outshine others interested in the same job.
In fact, if you haven’t looked at the trends affecting executive resumes and job search tools for 2016 and beyond, you’ll want to do so immediately. The results might open your eyes to the new way of job searching, even when your ultimate goal is a seemingly “easy” internal promotion.