Can Resume Templates Work in the Senior Executive Job Search Arena?
The executive resume has been declared dead so many times over the years and in that time we have seen the advent of various supporting career marketing materials spanning personal websites, video bios and even interviewing software.
However, none of those new contenders have even come close to replacing the executive resume.
In fact, today just as decades ago, as soon as senior executives find themselves in job search mode and start reaching out to their network and recruiters, the first question they typically encounter is: Can you send me your resume?
Creating a sharp and branded executive resume is thus one of the vital first steps when getting ready to launch an effective executive job search campaign.
Hiring a Pro or DIY?
Hiring a resume pro with years of experience in properly positioning executives in job search mode, is obviously a good idea, particularly if you struggle to brag about yourself or if just thinking about creating and formatting your own resume gives you the chills.
But what about if you simply prefer to work on the document on your own but would need some structural help? Can resume templates and DIY solutions be a good idea?
We have all seen ritzy looking Windows resume templates or those cool looking graphic resumes posted by “Open to Work” candidates on LinkedIn.
But do they work?
Be Aware of Applicant Tracking Systems
Admittedly in the senior executive arena the preferred way of job hunting is via effectively tapping into the hidden job market, but you want to nevertheless be prepared for online application and recruiter database upload scenarios.
In such scenarios, your resume will get parsed by Applicant Tracking Systems (“ATS”) and quite a few of the ritzy looking templates you can find on Word or Etsy were not created with the functioning of ATS in mind.
Content Needs to King
Another point to bear in mind when contemplating a resume template solution is that quite a few of the available free templates were created with mere visual appeal in mind.
While visual appeal is certainly a crucial factor in creating a top-notch executive resume, the visual appeal should not go so far as to compromise content and written information flow.
The greatest initial visual appeal will not carry you through various rounds of executive interviewing when the actual message doesn’t pack enough of a punch.
So, if you want to create your own executive resume and career marketing materials with the help of templates, you should make sure to use templates that were created with an ATS as well “content is king” approach in mind.
My trusted fellow Job Search Strategist Sarah Johnston of the Briefcase Coach recently co-founded a new job search marketplace, the Job Search Journey, aimed at helping job seekers who prefer to create their own career marketing materials.
So, if you are considering creating your executive resume rather than hiring an executive resume writer, you should check out Sarah’s platform to ensure you start working with a solid and well-designed template www.jobsearchjourney.com.
A template created by actual job search specialists, vs. for example graphic designers, will empower you to create engaging content to persuade your target audience that you are the right fit candidate.
Still not sure how to go about creating your executive resume? Feel free to shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most executives that I speak to have worked with recruiters in the past. However, the expectations on the candidate end regarding timing and recruiter responsiveness are often not aligned with how the processes at global recruiting agencies actually work.
Jason Starr, Group CEO of Dillistone Group and Director of GatedTalent, a platform connecting executives to executive recruiters, has done an outstanding job to shed some light on how executive search firms actually work and how you get on their radar: here.
Optimizing your General Counsel and Attorney Resume
Quite a few attorney and general counsel resumes I have reviewed and subsequently re-written this year suffered initially from what I like to call “career neglect” or “career outgrew resume.” While the actual career of many general counsels has grown significantly over the years in terms of responsibilities and achievements, that growth is often not reflected in their legal resumes.
I believe the two main reasons for this common scenario are that 1) early in a legal career the focus seems to be mainly on graduating from a prestigious law school and snatching a job with a big law firm and 2) career marketing does seem to come somewhat unnatural to legal executives.
Let’s look at those two reasons in a bit more detail now.
I. Early Legal Career Focus
Typically, you earn your first stripes in the legal field as an attorney in law firms and private practices. At this stage, a law degree from a top school might be enough to serve as your door opener. Once you get your foot in with a top law firm, the combination of your law school and top firm will frequently carry enough weight to land your new opportunity easily and without too much “resume hassle.”
However, once you make the transition to in-house positions, and you are making a move to General Counsel or Vice President of Legal Affairs, the need for a sophisticated and optimized resume increases drastically. At this stage, quite a few non-legal professionals will review and screen your resume, and your achievements must be “translated” for the business side of things. In other words, the classic “bear bones” attorney resume you might have received as a template from your law school 20 years ago won’t cut it anymore.
II. Career Marketing Might Feel Unnatural to Legal Executives
Legal counsel management, leading major negotiations, and defending the intellectual property of your employer and clients are all things that come quite naturally to you as a general counsel or private practice attorney. Ideally, you enjoy doing those things quite a bit.
But tooting your own horn? Usually, not so much. Most of my legal executive clients will say that they are good at writing about a plethora of legal problems but feel less comfortable drafting their own career materials.
And this only makes sense. Drafting legal documents with potentially an unlimited available amount of words and pages with other legal professionals in mind is quite different from jam-packing your entire career on a 2- or 3- page resume format that must pass a 10-second legal recruiter “scan.”
III. What do you do?
The first step to catapulting your resume to 2019 is to become aware that the resume is essentially a marketing document which will receive very little initial attention; be it from a recipient of an application or another law firm that you might be targeting for potential referrals.
In other words, this is non-billable time for your resume and CV recipient too (except for a legal recruiter that is), so they will not take 30 minutes out of their daily schedule to thoroughly go through your document line by line. Your resume and CV has to deliver rapidly to make an impact. Contrary to legal writing, you will have to limit yourself to stressing your most crucial career highlights to communicate the benefit that you bring to the table. Everything that looks like “too much work to go through” bears the risk of not getting read, and that is obviously what you are trying to achieve. That’s why I recommend limiting attorney and general counsel resumes that target employment to 2 to 3 pages.
But what about resumes and CV that you want to utilize to target other law firms for referrals? Well, in that case, I usually recommend a tiered approach. You could provide your recipients with options that vary in length and detail.
So, for example, you could send them a folder/attachment with a short/introductory one-page bio, two-page resume, and a full-blown academic CV with all speaking engagements and publications.
That way, you put your potential reader in full control of how much they want to “digest” about you and your achievements.
Full-reader control is your way to success for your legal resume in 2019!
If you have any questions about your attorney or general counsel resume, feel free to send me an email: email@example.com
Following up with interviewers after you've had an executive interview is common courtesy. However, following up “the right way” provides you with opportunities beyond simply showing that you are a polite and polished person. You can read the whole post on Forbes here.
Going repeatedly through several rounds of interviewing and not getting the job offer can be very frustrating. The question then becomes, is it your interviewing or something else? I have dealt with this question in my latest Forbes contribution here.