Friday, May 01, 2015

Pitfalls of Copying Content from Online Executive Resume Samples

The Internet is replete with sample executive resumes and format examples. All you have to do is perform a Google search for "executive resumes" or "executive resume sample" and you'll see what I mean. 

There are a number of organizations whose business it is to provide plug-and-play templates for resumes, many of which provide boilerplate text designed for different industries and occupations. Many executive resume services also provide example resumes on their websites, in an effort to provide reassurance to their prospective clients of the quality of their work. (My executive resume service, Creative Keystrokes, does this as well.)

So, the next question might be: Why not just copy and paste content from executive resume samples found on the Web to create your own resume? 

The answer is that anyone who does this deceives him or herself if they think they have successfully "cheated the system" by using someone else's work. Rather the executive has inevitably shortchanged him or herself.

Why is this so? The important fact to bear in mind is that no two executives' backgrounds are the same, and no two executives possess the identical set of experiences, business/interpersonal skills, industry-specific knowledge, or functional area subject matter expertise. Each person's UVP (Unique Value Proposition) and brand are different from all others, and thus treatment for each person's career needs to be unique as well. The format and content of sample executive resumes and other career documents--no matter how impressive--will without exception NOT represent a blueprint for your resume, even if your job title and general background are similar.

So, whether you decide to research how to write an executive resume and attempt to develop it yourself, or opt to engage the assistance of a qualified executive resume writer, the last thing you want to do is copy and paste from another individual's resume. You will be doing yourself a great disservice, as that resume content was written for a specific individual and cannot possibly do you justice.

Lastly, would you really want to be faced at an interview with embarrassing questions about why the content of your resume duplicates that found in another candidate's resume? I think not.


Labels: , ,

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Is Your Ultimate Goal CEO? Pathways to Get There

MBA Central ( has recently developed a fascinating infographic about how to become a CEO.

Many of my clients who are not yet in that category do aspire to get there. Thus, they are building the requisite skill set and exposure to the many functional areas involved in a successful business: Operations, marketing, strategy, finance, creating company culture, human resources, recruitment/talent development, regulatory compliance, sales, PR, and so on. According to the infographic, each of these comes under the umbrella of responsibility for a CEO.

How important is education level? Well many of the CEO's of top companies do have Ivy League degrees, including Meg Whitman (HP), Jeffery Immelt (GE), Jamie Dimon (JPMorganChase), Roberto Goizueta (Coca-Cola)--65% of them hail from Harvard. And indeed, 97% of CEOs have attained their Bachelor Degree, 29% their MBA. Only 2.4% have no degree at all.

It can be done without that degree, though. For example, these dropouts seem to have done all right: Mark Zuckerburg (Facebook), Larry Ellison (Oracle), and Richard Branson (Virgin).

What about age? The average starting age for a CEO in Fortune 500 companies is 52.

Executives and entry level employees alike can take heart in that most CEO's started from humble beginnings like you, for example: Anne Mulcahy of Xerox (sales rep), Eric Schmidt of Google (Bell Labs Researcher), and Jack Welch of GE (engineer).

And what can one expect once they've grabbed the brass ring? That varies wildly, but in a big company the compensation is big also--well into 8 figures. Oracle's CEO compensation (cash, stock, options included) tops out at $78.4 Million.

What are characteristics of successful CEO's? These include Honor, Patience, Financial Savvy, Perseverance, Leadership, Realism, Perspective, Courage, Expertise, and Ability to Pitch and Close. Selection of future CEO's will increasingly focus on qualities like Flexibility, Transparency, Collaboration, and Empowerment.

If you are looking to position yourself for a CEO role, you'll need to make sure that your executive resume and LinkedIn profile emphasize the broad range of functional skills listed in this infographic. In addition, your executive resume and LinkedIn profile need to convey that you possess the soft skills mentioned above--not just by listing them, but by demonstrating them through your performance in roles to date.

To view these and additional insights on How to Become a CEO, you can access the infographic at:

How to Become a CEO


Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Infographic Vividly Shows Stats and Consequences of Lying on Resumes

A site called has created an infographic that vividly shows the numerous ways that everyone from entry level workers to senior executives lie, exaggerate, or embellish their resumes--potentially endangering their current job or even their careers. It's well worth a look. 

For an unknown reason, the graphic displays either too large or too small when included below, so I have provided a link that will take you to the original.

The Lies We Tell on Resumes

The consequences can be dire: 51% of employers indicated that they would dismiss a candidate if they caught a lie on their executive resume. I have written on this topic before, but think it is well worth revisiting. Remember always that it is legitimate to effectively communicate your capabilities and achievements on your executive resume, but is is definitely not OK to lie!


Labels: , ,

Monday, March 30, 2015

Be Found on LinkedIn: Are You Eliminating Yourself from Consideration without Realizing It?

In completing another LinkedIn strategies seminar last week, I garnered numerous insights and takeaways. Following are a few standouts.

There are five primary reasons that a candidate's profile is either never viewed by a recruiter using LinkedIn's "Recruiter Corporate" app, or if it is viewed, it doesn't make the initial cut: 
  • Your profile was not found (not complete and optimized for keywords, so it did not appear in the search results).
  • Your "snapshot" mini-profile that shows on the search results page didn't attract the recruiter enough to make them click through to your full profile. (You didn't make sure that what they see in that little slice is relevant and compelling.)
  • Your full profile wasn't viewable (because you were not in their network).
  • Your profile didn't demonstrate the applicability of your qualifications and capabilities for the position at hand.
  • You weren't easily reachable (contact information readily accessible).
So, what can you do to avoid these five eliminators?
  1. Make sure LinkedIn deems your profile "100% Complete" and that it is rich in the appropriate keywords for your profession.
  1. Optimize these items which appear in the Recruiter Corporate app search results "Snapshot":
  • Photo (professional and appealing)
  • FirstName LastName and Credentials (shows your name and any variations by which you might be known)
  • Relationship (You want to be a 1st or 2nd level connection, so this means expanding your network.)
  • # of Direct Connections You Have (the more, the better)
  • Headline (a keyword rich and compelling tag line)
  • Geographic Location (hopefully within 25-50 miles of position)
  • Industry (Look at others' profiles to make sure you pick the most relevant.)
  • Current Company and Title (These are more flexible and can provide more information than you might think, but that's a topic for another post.)
  • Past Roles
  • Education
  • KEYWORDS (A snippet from your summary shows, and the first 100 characters are critical.)
  1. Continually work on expanding your network so that it is more likely you will be in the recruiter's network at first or second level.
  1. Hone the entire content of your profile to "make the sale" once the recruiter does click through--demonstrate how your qualifications and capabilities make you a match for your desired role.
  1. Include contact information to make it as easy and quick as possible to reach you. Recruiters do NOT want to have to use InMail to make contact, as they have a small number of in-mails they can send to out-of-network contacts as part of their Corporate account. Make sure your Public Profile is set to be available to "everyone" so that a recruiter out of network can see it. Most recruiters prefer initial contact by phone, so provide your number (preferably not a work or home phone)!
External and corporate recruiters were spending upwards of $1.2B on LinkedIn's Talent Solutions (including Recruiter Corporate) as early as 2013 and well over 97% of recruiters were using LinkedIn as a primary sourcing tool (estimates run as has as 99%+ now). So coming up in their search results, and then surviving and advancing through each step of the process as they winnow out those of little interest and select those candidates they wish to pursue further is a must to be competitive in your executive job search.

And by the way, the executive resume you uploaded as a document attachment to your profile will not be seen by the recruiter using the Recruiter Corporate app, nor will it be scanned for keywords in his search. This makes it all the more important for your LinkedIn content to be compelling on its own.

There are of course a number of reasons why you may not wish to have your executive resume so widely available, which is why many executives opt not to include it with the LinkedIn profile. 

If you do wish for recruiters to be able to view your executive resume when using their Recruiter Corporate account, it is suggested to insert a link to a Slideshare version of it as one of your "websites" in the Contact Info section of your profile. 


Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Putting Your Best Foot Forward: Executive Job Search Etiquette

A recent entry on U.S. News & World Report's Careers Blog provides some excellent tips on how to enhance your reputation and professional image while conducting a job search, through some basic etiquette rules.

No matter how powerful your executive resume and no matter how eminently qualified you may be for a potential executive opportunity, putting forth a less-than-totally professional or rude impression will reduce or even possibly eliminate your chances of winning the job offer.

As a successful executive, you wouldn't likely have risen to this level in your career without a professional and courteous demeanor, but some of these strategies are well worth a reminder:

* Being courteous to everyone, everywhere, ALL the time: We all witnessed the news stories in just the last month about the interviewee who insulted the interviewer in the subway on the way to his job interview!

* Avoiding becoming a pest: Following up is OK; following up to excess is not.

* Listen CAREFULLY to what your interviewer tells you about the position or the company, to avoid looking like a rude fool when you ask a question that reveals you were not paying attention.

* Send a note of appreciation following all interviews. My advice is a dual approach on this: Send an email thank-you the same or following day, and SNAIL MAIL a short, handwritten note as well. The anecdotes about hiring managers and executives for whom the handwritten thank-you note tipped the scales in a candidate's favor are numerous.

For the complete list of job search etiquette tips, see:

7 Key Etiquette Tips for Your Job Search


Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Don't Let the Background Check be a Stumbling Block to Your Next Job

Even some of the most successful executives may have one or more mistakes in their pasts that can create problems in today's especially rigorous and scrutinizing hiring process. A rebellious period in your youth can haunt you for many years to come. An astounding statistic is that nearly a third of Americans have been arrested at least once by the time they turn 23. Everyone knows that a felony can count against you big time, but even misdemeanors can trip you up pretty badly.

So what can you expect in terms of background checks/screening before you garner that wonderful executive job offer? A criminal record may disqualify you out of hand, but if addressed honestly and proactively, in many instances you may still be able to win the offer.

Equally important to preparation of a powerful executive resume and LinkedIn profile, proactive connections with recruiters, colleagues, and hiring managers, and thorough research on the companies that interest you is researching yourself. Run all of the background checks that the hiring company will be likely to do, have any inaccuracies corrected as quickly as possible, and be prepared to address any issues head-on when they come up--better yet, before they knock you down.

Here are the types of checks that may be run on you:

* Law Enforcement and Court Records Report: $65 will get you a copy of your "rap sheet" in any state. Although your potential employer will not actually look at this, they will be looking at convictions and any pending cases against you. Any charges that occurred when you were under age or that have been dismissed are candidates for you to request they be sealed or expunged.

* Your Credit History: Nearly  half of companies will check your credit report (except for in 9 states where it is banned), as your financial behavior is considered a strong indicator of your level of responsibility and honesty (particularly for positions with any kind of financial or fiduciary responsibility). You can get free credit reports annually from all three major credit reporting agencies. Go through them carefully and request correction of any inaccuracies.

* Your DMV Record: Pulled almost certainly if the position you are applying for entails driving, your DMV record may also be pulled because it is considered an indicator of personal responsibility and compliance with laws. You can ask for a copy so you will know what they are going to see, although there's not much you can do to change it. For  instance, DUI's can be sealed, but any license suspension will still appear as a red flag.

* Employment History Checks: It is easy for a potential employer to verify the accuracy of the work history information you provide on your executive resume, so think twice about changing your beginning/ending dates of employment, skipping significant jobs, or worse yet making up jobs.

* Academic Background: We've all read or seen on TV the horror stories of people summarily dismissed from jobs of long-standing due to fabricated education information provided in the hiring process. Just don't do it. And if you ran into trouble at college, be sure to request and review a copy of your academic records and ask them to correct anything inaccurate or perhaps even if the incident can be expunged. You can also ask them specifically what kinds of information they provide when an employer inquiry is made so you can be prepared.

If you do have any significant criminal history, your best strategy is to confront it up front in the interview with your potential employer, when you have their attention and can explain, versus being dismissed out of hand based on a report with no opportunity to defend yourself. Speak as positively about it as you can, first impressing them with your experience and expertise, and then bringing to their attention what happened, what you learned from it, and why you are a different person today.

You may wonder what prompted me to write this particular blog entry. I rarely run into this situation, but worked recently with a highly accomplished and talented executive who had actually served prison time. He has gone on to great success by proactively addressing the issue.


Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Executive Salary Negotiation: When It's Time to "Show Me the Money"

You might think that the salary requirements question would be an easy one to answer, and that every executive looking for that next great opportunity would have a firm idea in mind of what the expected compensation package should look like. 

You might also think that determining an appropriate salary/compensation offer for an executive candidate would be a simple matter for the employer--based on the candidate's executive resume, references, and interview performance. But things are not quite that simple.

One of the priority elements in your job search plan should be researching the "going rate" for executives with your level of experience and capability. One method of doing this research is consulting websites such as:
The Riley Guide Salary Guides & Guidance
Bureau of Labor and Statistics 

Occupational Outlook Handbook 
U.S. Office of Personnel Management Salaries & Wages
JobSmart Salary Surveys


You might also Google salary data using a search phrase such as "average salary for (your desired or current job title)."

Once armed with real-world information on what employers are paying, it is important to play your cards well. Timing is everything in salary negotiation, and the first one to speak loses.

Let the potential employer bring the subject up, and try to avoid stating a number or range first. There is really no upside if you do. If your figure is too low, you may have just doomed yourself to a lowball offer--or worse yet, make them think you are a candidate of lower caliber than they had thought. If your figure is too high, you may have priced yourself out of the market for that employer, before you have them so convinced of your phenomenal value that they are willing to go to bat with top management to get you the salary you deserve.

If asked about your salary requirements, turn around and ask them what range they have in mind. You can then tell them if that's in the ballpark.

If they will not answer the question and you do find it necessary to be the one who states a range, be sure your answer includes "plus insurance and other benefits"--with the bottom of the range being the minimum you would accept, and the top based on what your market research indicated.

My favorite guru on the salary topic, Jack Chapman, gives a great tip: When the employer gives you a range they have in mind, respond with "hmmm" instead of "okay."  "Okay" indicates acceptance; "hmmm" is noncommittal and leaves you room to negotiate.

That dynamite executive resume and LinkedIn profile you prepared positioned you at an advantage--as someone an employer is eager to talk to about what you can bring to their organization. Your well-honed interviewing skills have vividly demonstrated the value you bring to the table. So take care that the third leg of the job-winning process--salary negotiation--takes you the rest of the way toward the job offer of your dreams.

For an in-depth look at executive salary negotiation strategy, I highly recommend Jack Chapman's book, Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1,000 a Minute, now in its seventh edition. Jack is one of a handful of folks I recommend to provide extra support to my clients, and I’m an enthusiastic affiliate of his services.


Labels: , ,