Anatomy of a Good Executive Resume – Advice from Recruiters (Part 1)

As a Certified Resume Strategist, I like to take the “pulse” of recruiters and HR professionals to ensure that the documents I create for my clients are going to be well received by the target audience – the people who will make decisions on which candidates will get an interview, a recommendation, an offer of employment. Ordinarily I do this as part of my week-to-week networking activities, but I decided that, in the face of a rapidly changing employment landscape, it was time to take a more broad-brush approach. Thanks to the wonders of Help a Reporter, I can share these words of wisdom from leading experts in recruitment, staffing and career services from across North America.

The Objective Statement – The Recruiter’s Bain
David Lewis, best selling author of “The Emerging Leader” and certified Senior Professional in Human Resources advises, “kill the objective statement. It’s like installing linoleum in your kitchen and trying to sell a house – it’s not a good idea.” Almost every recruiter I spoke to agrees. Objective statements are typically self-serving and focus on what the candidate wants. However hard you try to word it, an objective statement tends to shout, “I need a good job that pays well, provides chances for rapid promotion, gives me the opportunity to look like a star without having to work too hard, and doesn’t interfere with my golf schedule.” The employer doesn’t really care what you want. They need to know what you can do for them.

Executive recruiter Paula Marks points out, however, that there are legitimate times to use an objective statement. For example, if you are a medical specialist who is seeking a position in a large teaching hospital where you can contribute to cutting edge research on lung cancer, it is okay to say so. Likewise, a successful (emphasis on successful) business entrepreneur could get away with advertising that s/he is looking for opportunities to help a start-up company take its business to the next level.

So what do you use instead of an objective statement? A specific job title. “One mistake I see frequently, in the effort to not close off any options, is not putting a specific job title on the résumé, so that it’s not clear for what position an applicant is applying or qualified,” says Sharon Rich, founder of Layoff Bounce Back. “If the résumé doesn’t tell a clear ’story’ at first glance, it may not get a second look.”

Profile / Summary – The Only Thing that Gets Read? or, The new ‘Objective Statement’ in Earning Recruiter Disdain
With twenty years of corporate experience in the pharmaceutical sector, Clint Cora has had the opportunity to review hundreds of résumés from people who are interested in entering the pharmaceutical sales field. “One of the biggest mistakes I see is that people say right at the beginning that they are organized, smart, hard working, good communicator, etc. They have to realize that everyone else is going to be making the same claims about themselves so very quickly, all résumés start to look the same.”

In fact, Clint admitted that when he was actively involved in recruiting salespeople, he stopped reading the summary section altogether and jumped straight down to the career details. He could tell within a few seconds if a candidate is qualified, and only then would he give the rest of the résumé a more serious read.

A well-crafted summary statement or professional profile is, nevertheless, still regarded by recruiters as an essential part of a good résumé, and may be the only thing that gets looked at in the first stage of candidate screening by “live” recruiters. Why the emphasis on “live”? Because some large companies and recruiting firms still scan and store candidate résumés in a database, and use specialized software to select résumés based on specific keywords. If you haven’t used the right keywords, you will be out of luck.

Paula Marks advises dedicating about 20% of your résumé to a well thought out summary. What are the key elements of a good summary? It is job-specific, it is experience-specific, it is accomplishments-specific, it is keyword rich, and it is TRUE!!!. Anything you claim in your summary needs to be backed up by clear evidence in your job chronology.

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