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Resume Archives | Underwood Executive | Executive Search & Talent Management

8 tips for an Executive Resume in 2021

By | Coaching, Recruitment, Talent

”Have you got any advice on my CV?” or “What do you think of my resume?” and “How can I improve my CV? are the questions we are asked every day here at Underwood Executive.

The executive resume is a sales tool – it is a preview document with the goal of winning an interview.  The resume is not a document to tell the interviewer everything about you (no DOB, how many kids you have or what you enjoy doing on the weekend).  It’s an appetizer, a taste of what skills and competencies you have to offer as a high performer.

The best resumes are visually appealing, easy to read and have very little narrative and more dot point facts and figures.

Specifically, here are 8 tips to producing an effective executive resume:

  1. Short & sweet– preferably 3 pages (maximum 5) is enough to demonstrate skills, experience, competencies and achievements. Anything longer tends to suggest long narratives, too much waffle or a retyping of a job description. Use a crisp font style and size (please not Times New Roman!), use dot points and short clear sentences. Never use third person or ‘me-centred’ statements with lots of opinion. We want to see white space – not long paragraphs or over indulgent sentences. Always consider readability and not squeezing too much on one page.
  2. Personal details – your name, mobile number, email and LinkedIn URL (make sure you customise this) are best in a header so these details carry across to every page. It is also recommended you use page numbers, so when someone prints your CV it is easy to put in order.
  3. Give yourself a title – the first thing we should be able to see on your resume is what type of executive you are eg: General Manager HR or Chief Financial Officer. Giving yourself a title or several titles makes it easy for the reader to make a connection to the types of positions you are going to be interested in. You can separate titles, just like you can on a LinkedIn profile eg: Group Executive HR | Organisational Development | Change Agent.
  4. Competencies & key words – what are your stand out strengths? Those skills that someone should be hiring you for? What competencies have allowed you to succeed in previous positions? We need to see these skills listed on the front page. Think of these as key words that should be repeated throughout your resume to sell your story and they become the key message to reinforce your strengths.
  5. Career summary– having a table on the front page of your resume that summarises your career history with the company, position title and dates/length of service is a quick reference point for the reader to see your career in an easy snapshot.
  6. Company descriptions– not everyone has worked with well-known brand names like Woolworths or Commonwealth Bank, so we always recommend 2 – 3 sentences saying who the company is, the revenue turnover of the organisation, the industry, number of staff etc. Any information that makes it easy for the reader to make a connection and understand the type, size and complexity of the organisations that you have worked for. Further additions can be hyperlinks to the organisation and the use of logos.
  7. Dates– a resume without specific dates (months and years) is frustrating, as we can’t determine length of service in each role.  Being clear about employment dates and gaps is critical in producing an honest and up to date document. This also includes having dates for when you have completed relevant qualifications. Always check to make sure these dates and descriptions match your LinkedIn profile too.
  8. Career history – always start with your current or most recent position making it very clear your job title and key responsibilities. To give each role size and scale, you can say who you report to eg: CEO and include how many staff report to you eg: 5 Managers, 46 team members, budget responsibility and the role purpose. Including key achievements under each position demonstrates you have performed well, what you have contributed and what success you have achieved. Where possible use as many facts and figures, such as sales results, cost savings, engagement survey results, change management projects etc. Don’t go back any further than 10 years in great detail, as prior experience can be summarised and shows how your career has progressed, but we don’t need the actual key responsibilities for all of these past positions.

Remember that an executive resume is about making yourself and your career stand out through highlighting your most important skills and milestones. You won’t be able to get all of this information in a succinct document, so don’t even try. In this situation, less is more. Too often resumes become versions of war and peace and you lose the reader by confusing them with too much irrelevant data and information that takes away from your core skills, experience and achievements.

If you want your CV noticed, ask yourself what is the most remarkable and significant information as an executive that I want to get across? What skills have I developed to achieve success so far in my career? What makes me more appealing to hire than another executive?  What can I bring to the table that potentially others can’t? What do I want to be known for? It is the answer to these questions that you need to prioritise.

A great executive resume is appealing, concise, informative and relevant with key words and factual information.

Need help? Speak to our consulting team about a career coaching session here.

3 ways to nail a job interview

By | Recruitment

Nail the job interviewThe holidays are over, the phone is ringing and the LinkedIn requests are coming in thick and fast as many individuals put the wheels in motion to achieve their New Year resolution to find a new job. It happens every year without fail that January and February become a peak period for candidate activity – conversations, resumes and interviews with those determined to find their dream job in 2014.

Actually winning a job interview is hard enough with the volume of applications received, providing significant competition for roles across the majority of sectors.  Even some of the most qualified candidates on paper, still struggle at the interview stage due to lack of preparation, and not providing specific  examples.

Here are 3 things you can take on board right now to help put your best foot forward:

1.    Don’t be a robot, be yourself

I know what you’re thinking – that’s it? I don’t need to prepare for being me. I’ll just rock up and be myself and that will be enough. Wrong! The majority of people attending an interview are nervous (understandably) and have actually over-rehearsed so much that they end up presenting as a cookie cut-out of themselves  – robotic in facial expressions and stiff in their conversational style.  Relax! Beyond ensuring you have the actual competencies to do the role, interviewers often hire people they like the most.  So while being polished and professional is important, you need to demonstrate warmth, build rapport, find that common ground and always be genuine.  If you are going to be hired, remember you need to fit the culture ie: we like you enough to spend a 40-hour week with you! A candidate I interviewed last year, arrived out of breath, covered in sweat and had just split his pants on the way to the interview. It was a great conversation starter and he used the situation to demonstrate his humour and candid nature!

2. Ooze assurance, lose the ego

Confidence is a sure-fire way to leave a lasting impression – when it is delivered with humility, not arrogance.  Over the years, I have lost count of the number of people waltzing into an interview with their nose in the air, believing they don’t need to answer these ‘ridiculous’ questions because of their experience, status or who they might be. We aren’t interested. Really.

Employers want to hire people who can positively influence others, who are confident in their skills and abilities, demonstrate values based behaviour and who are positive to be around. An arrogant, pretentious or superior demeanour have no place in an interview situation.

To the guy who claimed to be personal friends with Gina Reinhardt while interviewing for a role in the mining sector – it didn’t impress, was of zero relevance and didn’t demonstrate actual competency to perform the role.

If you are good enough to do the role, use real examples and tell specific stories that demonstrate your achievements.  We want to know what was the situation, what did you do and what was the outcome?  Keep your answers succinct based on facts and figures….your referees will back up your claims and will tell us how wonderful you are.

3. Your truth & buzz

Don’t lie and tell me what you think I want to hear.  I want to know about you, your story, your drivers, what makes you leap out of bed in the morning and enables you to thrive?

This process involves easily being able to articulate why you want this role and why you want to work for this organisation, including why I should employ you. Inspire me! Tell me about jobs you have loved, leaders that have brought out the best in you, where you have felt stifled and what factors would make you want to flee.  Motivation is at the core of everything. When your rational and emotional motivators are satisfied, you will perform, feel ultimate job satisfaction and stay!

The interview is a two-way street where you need to be true to yourself and recognise what you need out of the employment relationship.  It’s just as important that you find the right job, culture and leader for you.  Being steadfast on ‘winning’ the interview rather than really listening and conversing to find out if this is the right move, could see you succeeding in the process, but ultimately losing sight of your bigger picture career goals and job satisfaction.

Leave the robotics and exaggerated self at home, breathe, smile and come in feeling positive, let’s get to know each other and discover whether this is a true match for all parties.

7 Tips to Write a Cracker Cover Letter

By | Recruitment, Results

There is lots of competition for jobs right now. On average, we receive 150 applications per vacancy. There are fewer opportunities available and people are still looking to progress their careers. There is great talent in the market; it’s a good time to hire.

With such a high volume of applications and less than 5% being chosen for interview, it is absolutely critical that your cover letter stands out from the crowd.

It is surprisingly rare to read a cover letter that gets straight to the point, engages me or gives me a wow.  Why is that? I believe that the majority of applicants are over-thinking it, making it too formal and are talking more about themselves rather than about the company, role and opportunity.

What I’m looking for:

  1. Brief & Succinct – one page is sufficient.  You should be able to address the main points in a concise manner that gets straight to the point. When competition is strong, you had better get to the good stuff and quick!
  2. Skills & Experience – this makes it easy for the reader to make an immediate link and match as to why you are suitable for the role and they will keep reading. For example, I have a management degree and 10 years work experience in this particular industry. I’m looking for quick facts.
  3. Motivation – be clear on why you are applying for this job and not every other job advertised.  This motivation for applying can be the make or break reason for getting into the yes or no pile! It is the most essential piece of information I am looking for in a cover letter or when I ring someone to discuss their application – why were you motivated to apply for this job?
  4. Wow – state something upfront that will give the reader a WOW feeling about why you have applied. If there is a common interest, link or value match, it can be an instant rapport winner to get you in front. A letter I received last week, stated that they had applied for the role because this organisation had inspired them 10 years earlier to kick start their career in the health sector and major in health management with their MBA. It gave me an instant wow.
  5. Get Creative – don’t send me a tea bag and tell me to grab a cup of tea while I read your CV (a very old and cheesy gimmick in my opinion), but think about how your letter can stand out. Colour, a relevant graphic, a quote you live by, mention something about the organisation or industry that inspires you.
  6. Why them – the story you should tell is why you’re interested in this company and this particular role (it’s all about them).  Phrase your letter in terms of how you can help them and what you can bring to the role rather than just what’s in it for you and your career.
  7. Why you – in a letter you can reveal more about your personality, values and motivation (not so easy to do in a resume, which is more factual). Be clear on how you can contribute and potentially solve the organisation’s problems or challenges.

Remember 95% of applicants are being rejected due to poor cover letters and resumes including incorrect spelling, generic “to whom it may concern”, long winded, lengthy and irrelevant information that doesn’t demonstrate any motivation for the role. Never use a standard cover letter that lacks specific detail related to this company and this role – we can spot them a mile away and it is an automatic indication of laziness and a genuine lack of interest.

If you really want to get to the front of the line – simple, honest and genuine communication that represents motivation, careful thought and a unique proposition. A cracker cover letters involves being real, telling a story and demonstrating desire. Come on …. give me a WOW!

 

 

 

10 ways to get your CV noticed

By | Attraction, Recruitment

Over the past few months I have been giving advice on executive CV’s and how to improve them. What I’ve learnt is that just because you earn a six-figure salary shouldn’t assume you have a great resume – in fact in some cases, these have been the worst!

The resume is a sales tool – it is a preview document with the aim of winning an interview so you can provide more information, demonstrate competencies and ultimately win the job.  The resume is not a document to tell the interviewer everything about you.  It’s a preview, a summary and a taste of what you have to offer.

My quick tips to a winning CV include:

  1. Short & sweet – maximum 5 pages in my opinion is enough to demonstrate skills, experience, competencies and achievements. Anything longer tends to suggest waffle and giving away too much information ie: there is no reason left to interview you as you have already told us everything! Use a crisp font size and type, use dot points and short sentences.
  2. Sections – a good resume will be divided into key areas such as personal details, career statement/overview, career summary, experience and achievements, qualifications and awards.  Avoid long narratives and going back to your very first job – keep it relevant and current.
  3. Dates – a resume without specific dates (months and years) is frustrating, as we can’t determine length of service in each role.  Being clear about employment dates and gaps is critical in producing an honest and up to date document.
  4. Achievements – including key achievements in each role demonstrates you have performed well in the role and what you contributed in your time there. Where possible use as many facts and figures as possible such as sales results, cost savings etc.
  5. Company descriptions – not everyone has worked with high profile brand names like Coca Cola or Google so I always recommend 2 – 3 sentences saying who the company is, the turnover of the organisation, the industry, number of staff etc. Any information that makes it easy for the reader to make a connection and understand the type of organisation that you have worked for.
  6. Referees – to include or not to include? You will get different advice on this one, but in my opinion you don’t need to include them as I always ask for them at the interview.  You could always have them on a separate piece of paper and bring them to the interview.  The referees are not always relevant and I like to be more specific about who I would like to talk to eg: direct reports or team members or clients, depending on the role and the requirements.
  7. Reasons for leaving – including these explanations at the end of each role can give some context to career moves and also demonstrates motivations for particular changes.  It also gives you an opportunity to explain shorter stints or unfavourable roles (just remember not to be negative).
  8.  Covering letter – is essential, even if an advertisement says ‘send your CV’ not an application letter.  Most Recruiters will read a covering letter first and we look for simple things like have you addressed it correctly to us by name (and spelt correctly!) and why you have applied for this job and not the other 100 in the market.  This motivation for applying can be a make or break reason for getting through to first round interview.
  9. Opinion vs. fact – try and avoid as much opinion as possible in a CV. For example saying you are a great communicator, you have fantastic attention to detail and you are a gun negotiator can come across as self-promoting. Of course you are going to say these things about yourself – prove it in facts instead.  For example, list a significant negotiation that you won and what was the outcome or quote a referee.  This way you are still demonstrating your success and competency without the ego attached to it.
  10. Positions – remember that titles are funny things and in different organisations they do describe different roles.  Helping to clarify levels and seniority can be achieved through showing your direct report eg: Reported to: Chief Executive Officer and also showing who reports to you eg: 6 Team Managers, 32 staff.

Remember that just by looking at a piece of paper, we can’t tell exactly what your strengths, weaknesses, significant competencies and motivations are. The resume has to give us a taste so we pick up the phone to invite you for a face to face where you can then demonstrate these in a verbal context. Too often resumes become versions of war and peace and you loose the reader by confusing them with too much irrelevant data and information that takes away from your core skills, experience and achievements.

Getting your CV noticed is like hearing someone speak at a conference – you want it to be concise, informative, entertaining and relevant with real stories and information.