Resumes are essentially marketing materials, designed to sell you as a candidate. What skills, achievements, and accomplishments make you stand out? To position yourself as a strong candidate, you should have a resume that focuses on your accomplishments rather than your responsibilities, and that conveys your expertise with carefully-chosen keywords.
No matter how much experience you have, your resume should not span more than two pages. You can save space by cutting unnecessary elements, such as the resume objective. Being able to extract the most important elements from large amounts of information is one skill crucial to effective management, so your resume should prove that you’re capable of this. A study by TheLadders showed that recruiters spend just 6 seconds looking at a resume before deciding whether or not the candidate is a fit, so clear and concise resumes have the advantage.
If you have experience that goes back more than 10 to 15 years, consider creating one “Professional Experience” section detailing your most recent jobs, followed by a secondary “Prior Professional Experience” section listing only the companies you worked at, the dates you worked at each, and the job titles you held.
Sell it, don’t tell it
Resumes give people the chance to sell themselves as individuals; even people with similar career paths will have different specific accomplishments and skills. Communicate what makes you unique by detailing your achievements. You should be able to draw from your career management document—this is a career tool that’s separate from your resume. A career management document is a file that you update on a regular basis (monthly, quarterly, or whatever works best for you) with any notable accomplishments, achievements, and awards. Then, when the time comes to apply, you can take only the most relevant pieces from this to flesh out your resume. Don’t forget to consider conferences or workshops you have spoken at, or articles or columns you have published.
One good method of coming up with accomplishments is to read through a draft of your resume. Each time you come across a duty or responsibility, stop to ask yourself, “What did I do to make this happen?” or “What evidence do I have that shows how I carried this out?” Your answers will be the sorts of things your resume should feature.
Much of the advice surrounding using resume keywords focuses on using concrete, skill-based keywords listed in the job description, such as “cargo handling” or “QuickBooks.” These are important for everyone to use, of course. But management resumes should also include specific management-related keywords and phrases. Consider the terms you might use to best convey both your industry knowledge and leadership experience; the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business has published a list of keywords for resumes from numerous industries, which is worth reading for inspiration. Additionally, make sure your LinkedIn profile contains these keywords. According to Time, 93 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent; using targeted keywords on LinkedIn will boost your chances of being found.
All of these pieces of advice can be applied at any career stage, but they become more important when working on management resumes—which have to concisely convey your extensive experience and your individual leadership style and accomplishments.