I can’t tell you how many senior executive resumes sound exactly alike. Filled with words like ‘results-focused leader’ and “high-energy executive” - everyone is “dynamic” and ‘proven’ and ‘experienced.’ After reading the same thing 30 times, everyone starts to blur together.
Which is really crazy! Because you are totally unique. You have something that no other candidate has. You will add value in a different way. And yet I am willing to bet that your resume doesn’t express that unique value.
I speak from experience, because for years, I didn’t know how to express my value either. When I first started my resume writing business, I wasn’t sure who my target audience was and why they should choose my company. As the business grew, I started to figure out my unique value (I have prior HR and recruiting experience, which means I know how to get the attention of HR and recruiters). As I figured this out, my marketing messages became clearer. But I still knew I wasn’t getting to the bottom of what made my business different. And very recently, I was hit over the head with the realization that we have a very obvious selling point – we’ve had it all along but I just took it for granted.
It happened this way. One day, I received a request for proposal from a person in the UK. We don’t write resumes for the UK because frankly I have no idea what works there, so I wrote back to the person and politely declined the project. The same day, I also declined a project from a teacher because no one on my staff has expertise in writing resumes for teachers. The next morning, I had emails from both potential clients thanking me for my honesty and for not just taking their money regardless of whether I could provide excellent results.
And it hit me that we do that all the time – we only take on clients I know we can help. On the rare occasions that we misjudge and don’t get results, we refund money. Our whole business is built around trust – trust that our resumes get results, and trust that we will treat people fairly. And our resume writing process is also base on honesty – we don’t ‘sell’ what people are not – we help them communicate their authentic unique value. And yet our branding has never reflected that – at least not as a conscious effort. It should!
If you’re like me, you see other people much more clearly than you see yourself. So when it comes to marketing yourself, you probably fall back on platitudes, or standard ideas of what a good executive does. And the resulting resume is probably flat and boring and not at all reflective of what makes you YOU.
Here are a couple of ways you can fix that right now.
1. Think back to compliments you’ve received from bosses, co-workers or clients. What do they say abut you? What words do they choose? Don’t get stuck on what YOU think ... in fact, forget that for now. Just focus on what other people say.
2. Looking back over your career, what themes keep re-emerging? Are you always the person brought in to tackle the most challenging problems? Or have you always found new ways to cut costs?
3. What is your management philosophy? Write it down – don’t worry about spelling or grammar or finding the perfect words – just write whatever comes into your head.
Reviewing all this information will help you determine the answer to the most important question of all: “what make you unique?”
Once you have that answer, you can rewrite your resume, you can prepare for interviews and you can create your ‘elevator pitch.’ All based not on what executives are ‘supposed to be like’ but on who you really are.