Working Wounded: Executive Resumes

DEAR WOUNDED: I'm a C-level executive who never has written for career advice. But I've got a bet with my wife that a resume for someone in my position is a waste of time.

ANSWER: Your e-mail reminded me of the quote by hotel magnate Leona Helmsley, referring to who pays taxes: "It's only the little people."

Executives often feel the same way about resumes -- it's just the little people who have to mess with them. I strongly disagree.

Resumes should be a key part of everyone's arsenal for getting a job -- whether it's at the very top of an organization or in the shallow end of the corporate pool. I've included some key resume strategies specifically designed for the corner-office set, below. For more, check out Rachelle Canter's book, "Make the Right Career Move" (Wiley, 2007).

Do you assume resumes are unnecessary? This is a huge mistake. Chances are that even your best friends won't remember key bits of your background. Resumes will help your internal advocates sell you to their colleagues. They can create a buzz about the contributions that you'll be able to make and they'll open doors for you.

Do you tend to favor credentials over results? I've got a big bias about accomplishments -- mainly because so many people don't have any that they can point to. I'm not saying that credentials don't matter, just that they need to be balanced with things that you've actually accomplished.

Are you too long winded? The higher most people go in the corporate world, the more they seem to like to hear their own voices. How compact and strategic can you keep your resume? How concise can you be when answering questions in an interview?

Do you clearly state your career objective? If you've been around a while, it only makes sense that you know what you want to do with your career -- correct? That's why I think it's better for you to come up with your own career objective clearly stated on your resume rather than letting the people thinking about hiring you make guesses about where your career is pointed.

Do you come across as an arrogant SOB? Companies want to see confidence in the people they're considering for top management. But there is a line between confidence and arrogance. That's why it's important to have your resume reviewed by people who will give you honest feedback before you start to shop it around.

Do you settle for just a good resume? If you tend to view a resume as a necessary evil, you'll only do the absolute minimum. I'm a big believer that a resume is not a place to skimp or take a short cut. As they say, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Sure it takes time and effort, but aren't you worth it?

Follow these tips and you'll be in a better position to get a job with the big people at the top of an organization.

Online Ballot and Contest

Here are the results from a recent workingwounded.com/ABCNEWS.com online ballot:

Working Wounded/ABCNEWS.com online ballot question: Do you have trouble getting through to the people you need to talk to to do your job?

  • It's easier than it's ever been to get through to people, 14.7 percent
  • It's about the same, 39.3 percent
  • It's tough to get through to people today, 45.9 percent

Thought for the Week

"Business is like war in one respect. If its grand strategy is correct, any number of tactical errors can be made and yet the enterprise proves successful." -- General Robert E. Wood, President of Sears, Roebuck & Company

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