After a career spanning 20 years it can be difficult to summarize all your experience on one sheet of paper and, actually, we don’t recommend you do this. This can be especially challenging for top level executives with a diverse skill set and multiple responsibilities. However, breathe a sigh of relief because you do not have to put every single thing you have done on your resume nor is there a rule that it must be on a single page. Saying that, we don’t recommend you go over 3 pages. The most important thing to remember when crafting your application materials is that quality beats quantity. Take a hard look at your current resume and identify what is missing and what can be removed. It may even be useful to completely start your resume from scratch to allow you to rethink your brand and expertise.
When choosing what to include, make sure you first understand where you have been in your career, where you are, and where you want to go.
1) Identify the experiences relevant to where you want to go
The majority of Americans in the work force will begin their career in one area of business, and find themselves working in a completely separate area ten years later. One of our executives, Anita, for example began her career in advertising at a mid-sized agency and now is the Vice-President of Diversity and Inclusion at a large company. Even though she was a successful advertiser, not all her experience was relevant when she began to focus on recruiting multicultural talent. The first thing Anita did was create a “You Need, I Have” form. In this form she researched all the skills her prospective employer was looking for in a Diverse Talent Manager and identified the skills she currently had that met those needs. She then used this insight to highlight those relevant skills on her resume, while removing skills that were not as valued in her new role.
2) Include your most recent positions
This may go without saying. However, many executives forget to include the positions they held before their promotion to the C-Suite when the promotion came from within the company. Before Anita became the Vice-President of Diversity and Inclusion at her company, she was a director and manager. Employers want to know about that experience too, and trace your journey to the top. Your resume should tell recruiters the story of how you came to where you are today. Our suggestion is to include your most recent THREE positions, and an earlier position only if it is different from the other positions and relevant to where you want to go. Don’t include too much information on the positions that have nothing to do with the job you are interviewing for. Do include more detail, especially measurable results, on jobs that are in line with the position you are interviewing for.
3) Assign consultant positions under one Job Heading
When you have worked more than 20 years, there are times that you probably consulted between jobs or opted to have that flexibility for personal reasons. It’s best to include them all under one job heading so they appear as one job versus 2-5 different jobs. Include them all within the one time period starting with the starting month/year of the first freelance position to the ending month/year of the last one. You can include month/year (in light gray) per freelance period within the section for each consulting job but don’t include too much detail on those jobs as it will make the resume too lengthy. Just include main points that would be suitable for the position you are now looking for.
4) Highlight special skills and projects
Although most people summarize their resume to include 4-8 bullet points per job, we know that you do so much more than that. You have worked on countless projects and tasks that may fall out of what you do on the day to day. If any of these projects or experiences are extremely noteworthy to the position you are applying for, put it on your resume. As recruiters we like to see that you did more than what you were responsible for on the day-to-day. We are going to use Anita as our example again. While she was at the advertising agency, a client tasked her to create a campaign to attract Hispanic and African American markets. The campaign was so successful that it launched her passion for diversity and inclusion and caught the eyes of her new employer when they read it on her resume.
5) Make yourself more than an employee
Most executives will often find themselves doing more than just one job. They will sit on the boards of non-profits, engage in philanthropy, or hold advising positions at other companies. As recruiters we want to know about these positions too. Your resume is your story, and we know you are a lot more than just your job. Not only does it help you exhibit your qualifications for the position but it also builds your brand. Expressing these interests and positions on your resume personalizes your application, and makes you stand out above others who only put their job on their resume.
When choosing what experience to include on your resume, remember that your resume is your story. Include only what will be relevant to where you want to go and where you have been. However, do not let your resume reduce your story to simply your job. More than anything else, your resume is the biggest tool you have to build your brand. Your resume is one of the best tools you have to help you stand out. Not sure if your resume experience matches where you want to go? Contact Us, and we will be happy to help you advance your career in new ways.