6 Things You Don't Want To Hear About Your Executive Resume

Do you find yourself exhausted by the modern job search?

It’s incredibly time-consuming with no guarantee of a response from employers. It’s a tireless process of reading job postings, networking, asking for informational interviews, tweaking your resume (if you even have the energy for this step), and applying over and over again. You’re likely already juggling your full-time job (which likely means 50+ hours a week), family time, and what little time you have before bed to squeeze in some reading.

You have the experience. You have the drive. You know there’s a company just waiting for someone like you to take it to a new level of excellence and success. So why isn’t your resume attracting any employers?


6 Things You Don't Want To Hear About Your Executive Resume | Off The Clock Resumes


1 | It’s not getting seen by anybody.

If you’re applying for executive roles online, your first priority should be designing a digital resume that will get through Applicant Tracking software. This means your digital formatting needs to be Applicant Tracking software-friendly and highly targeted using keywords found in the job posting.

When applying online is your primary job search tactic, your resume is likely not getting seen because it’s not optimized for this software.

Many executives utilize recruiting firms or industry connections through networking. These are incredibly effective strategies with a different set challenges. If your executive resume is too long or dense and difficult to visually scan, it’s likely not being read and considered by decision makers.

If you don’t have a networking resume that showcases your greatest achievements and strengths, your resume is likely not getting seen at all.


2 | It looks like it was written in 1990.

You may be one of the many executives who has advanced in your career through promotions and referrals. Not needing a resume or not needing to update your resume means your resume’s appearance is likely outdated. An outdated resume design can negatively age you and eliminate you from consideration.

A networking resume can be graphic, visually engaging, and still appropriate for your career level. Don’t make the mistake of adding discriminatory content to your executive resume in an attempt to stand out such as a headshot, social and political affiliations, or personal information that indicates your age.


3 | It’s all over the place.

The modern job search is so competitive in every field and career level that the job-winning resumes must be focused and highly targeted. A dated outlook of resume writing is centered around a broad resume that presents you as a “jack-of-all-trades.” These resumes just don’t work anymore and is a common executive resume writing mistake.

As an executive leader of an organization, your resume needs to speak to that organization’s mission and top goals. Specifically, your resume needs to highlight how your leadership and contributions can help the organization meet those goals. If your executive resume isn’t focused, you are less likely to secure an interview.


4 | It makes you sound like everybody else.

Whether I’m working with a new executive client or reviewing an executive resume for a free critique, too often than not does the content look familiar. Using the same terminology and the same responsibilities as every other candidate is another common executive resume writing mistake.

If you aren’t using your executive resume to tell your unique story, your resume will make you sound like everybody else applying for that role. You can tell your story by giving context to your achievements. You can also stand out by creating a concise, value-focused Branding Statement that also incorporates how your strengths will benefit the company’s mission.

Not sure how to get started? This Branding Statement Cheat Sheet should help!

Branding Statement Cheat Sheet


5 | It’s too much of a chore to read.

How many times have you actually read your resume? If it’s a chore for you to read it, it’s certainly too much of a chore for anyone else to read it. Executives tend to write their resumes in long blocks of text which makes the resume terribly difficult to visually scan.

Instead, alternate between paragraphs summarizing your responsibilities and bullet lists that highlight your achievements. If you make your resume content both focused and easy to visually scan, recruiters and board members reading your resume may actually learn what value you offer to employers rather than putting your resume aside.


6 | It makes you sound arrogant or full of hot air.

I’ve noticed a trend in executive resumes where “fluff” words or imaginative jargon are used in an attempt to sound innovative and modern. Instead, this approach just makes you sound arrogant or full of hot air. Employers are more interested in the results that you are going to produce for the company than your self-proclaimed descriptors.

If you’re a master or guru at something, describe your impressive qualifications instead of using these terms. If you’re a visionary, identify the innovative changes you planned and enacted instead of calling yourself a visionary. If you’re ambitious, use your resume to show your progressive advancement in your career. Get the gist?

Take a good look at your resume from a board member or executive recruiter’s perspective and make sure it’s easy to see the value you offer.