Executive Resumes, Personal Branding & Executive Job Search

Executive Resume Checklist: 15 Criteria to Meet

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Jan 16, 2012 4:34:00 PM

 Executive resume checklist

Executive Resume Checklist

Unsure what you need to do to capture the attention of both search engines and recruiters and hiring authorities? This executive resume checklist will show you what you need to do with your resume to stand out in a competitive field of applicants.

Your personal / career brand and your value proposition

1. The reader can grasp a "reason to hire you" inside of 3 seconds.

2. The recruiter or hiring authority can get a sense of your career brand, that is, what makes you YOU professionally and distinguishes you from the competition.

3. The recruiter or hiring authority can find out precisely what your value proposition is - of supreme importance to the company.

4. Any other credentials relevant to your job such as certifications, multiple languages, global experience, big awards etc. can be found here.

5. You used a headline rather than a career objective unless you are targeting a significantly different career.

6. You customized your resume to the position you are targeting.

7. You matched your career brand and value proposition to the needs of the organization you are applying to.

8. You include any unusual and impressive non-work-related outside activities, community contributions, or skills, because perceived performance excellence in one area transfers to the work arena and this information will make you even more memorable.

Proving your value proposition in the body of your executive resume

9. Your accomplishments are expressed, as much as possible, in quantifiable terms in the body of the resume.

10. Your accomplishments are presented in context, so their proper significance can be understood.

11. Your 5 to 7 chief accomplishments over the last decade (one for each position) stand out visually so they can be viewed in a 3-second scan, with the sub-accomplishments under each of them.

Getting the formatting right

12. Your resume can be read easily across media, including on paper, on a laptop or desktop computer, on a tablet device, and on a smart phone.

13. Your resume uses the appropriate keywords for your function and your industry along with the critical obscure, rarer keywords customized to the position you are targeting.

14. You use common headings for the resume sections so that applicant tracking software will correctly read what's under them, i.e. Professional Summary, Professional Experience, and Education.

15. You have different versions of your resume for electronic and for human processing.

If, when you review your executive resume, you can check off all of these, you will be in a good position to capture interviews for the positions you are targeting!


Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, technology executive resumes, executive resume writing, executive resume, IT executive resume

The Yin Yang of Personal Branding

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Dec 30, 2011 10:14:00 AM

The yin yang of personal branding

There are two sides to every coin and two halves to every whole. Yin needs yang as black needs white and light needs the darkness. We are a universe of perceived dualities. Personal branding also depends on the relationship of two parts.

What are the two parts of personal branding?

  1. Your unique promise of value coupled with the attributes, passions, and skills that you bring to the table. So why can't your personal brand stand alone? What else does it need?
  2. The pain or challenge of an organization that you uniquely solve. Your personal brand depends on / requires / is shaped by THE NEED IN THE MARKETPLACE. For instance, what is it that you do particularly well or in a way that's particularly helpful in enabling an organization meet its strategic goals?
The answer to that question may become clearer if you assess your impact on: growing revenues / profit / profit share, cutting costs, streamlining processes, producing efficiencies, increasing teamwork, inspiring peak performance, enabling high growth etc. These are among the common strategic goals of an organization. Select one or more that is enhanced by your contributions and what gifts you have that make that possible.
When you figure out what your unique "ying" is in relation to a particular "yang," you will have a powerful message to communicate in your executive resume, personal branding, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, other web profiles, and interviewing. 

Topics: LinkedIn, personal branding, executive resumes, executive resume, personal brands

How to Answer the Age Question in a Job Interview

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Dec 13, 2011 3:39:00 PM

Counter the Age Question in a Job Interview

It's the elephant in the room. Employers aren't allowed to ask how old you are, but some interviewers try to get at your age indirectly by asking in what year you graduated or how old your children are. If you are sensing that your age is subtly or not so subtly being raised, try to deflect it by taking Scott Berry's approach: answer with another question. Instead of "I'm 54" try "How old is the demographic you are targeting?" If that doesn't work, here's another response that addresses the question directly and head-on (assume this interview is for a technology sales job):

"I'm glad you asked about age. I've given this some thought, and there are 6 distinct advantages I bring to the table directly relating to my having worked more than just a few years:

  1. I would be a low-risk hire. As you can see from my resume, my career has progressed steadily, demonstrating that I have been highly valued by all of my employers and exceeded expectations in every position. That's a good predictor of what you can expect from me.
  2. I can help you meet your numbers. Six months down the road, you can be pretty sure that your top- and bottom-line will be improving. (Show resume, spreadsheet, portfolio, graphs etc. demonstrating sales productivity.)
  3. Hiring me rather than a relatively untested candidate will save you the possible costs, delays, and hassle of another recruiting effort. 
  4. I've got street cred - I know what I'm talking about. I've been a player in the industry and know your target market's current technology solutions and their drawbacks. My ability to be agile and quick to grasp new technology solutions and where the market is trending gives me an advantage over less experienced sales reps.
  5. I know my way around all kinds of people. This can come only from experience in the trenches. I've got the kind of good instincts that it takes to build relationships and adjust my approach to people in different roles and levels in the company. 
  6. I'm a sales pro. I know what works in sales. I know how to get to the close and then deliver the sale.

In short, my ROI is a sure thing you can take to the bank. Are there any other concerns you might have?"

If you list these six points  in a confident, upbeat way, you can avoid sounding defensive. And listing them will at the very least flush out hidden age biases the interviewer may not even be aware s/he has and counter them.

We are a youth culture, and tech especially is seen as a young person's game. But, like other not-so-wise common wisdom, this bias can be overcome by your confidence and a demonstrated ability to help the company reach its strategic objectives and/or solve its pain.


Topics: job search, executive resume, IT executive resume, job interview, age discrimination

Why You Need a Photo on Your LinkedIn Profile

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Dec 5, 2011 2:41:00 PM

 Photos on LinkedIn

In a relentlessly competitive job search environment, a good photo accompanying your LinkedIn profile can help differentiate you from other candidates. While your resume and credentials can boost your hiring potential, a photo allows the employer to put a face to a name.

Personalizing Your Potential

So why should you add a great photo to your LinkedIn profile?

• A photo builds a more personal connection and increases your social appeal.

• The photo of you reassures recruiters and hiring managers. In a recent survey, one potential employer conveyed his suspicion of LinkedIn users who do not have a photo on their profile, asking, “What is he trying to hide?”

• A photo can help market your personal brand. Outgoing? Determined? Warm? Dignified? Authoritative? Leader-like? Compassionate? Strong? Confident? Congenial? Bold? Your expression can convey some of your key attributes.

• How you are dressed in the photo can indicate the level of work you are interested in. For instance, if you are applying for an executive position, you should probably wear a suit and tie. If you're a hands-on technologist, you may want to dress in business casual. If you are looking for an opening in a tattoo parlor, feel free to spice up your look and get creative!  

• A photo reassures a potential employer that you are ready to work. Regardless of age, you can project a youthful and energetic appearance.

So, you’ve got the right amount of experience, education, and training. Add a Linkedin photo, and you increase your chances of getting interviews.

Cross-posted at Career Hub Blog



Topics: executive resumes, executive resume, career management, LinkedIn profile, LinkedIn photo

What Kind of Photo Should I Use on My LinkedIn Profile?

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Dec 5, 2011 9:11:00 AM

Image headshot

Photo courtesy of Mat Robinson of Enduring Images Studio

Having the right kind of photo on your LinkedIn profile can create a more personal connection with the employer or recruiter who views it. Even your executive resume will will be read with more interest if the reader has a mental picture of you. A properly lit, well-dressed photo of you can enhance your written profile and assuage any concerns that might arise if you don't have a profile! 

  • You'll want to use a professional quality headshot, not an angled picture that you snapped with your cell phone in front of the bathroom mirror, and not a Facebook profile picture of you out on the town. If you can't afford a professional, then find a friend with a digital camera who knows how to point and click. 
  • Use good lighting. After all, the place you will be working in will have proper lighting, so your picture should show a fair representation of what you look like.
  • Use a neutral background with solid colors. You don’t want to have a photo with too much background noise or cutoff heads floating around.
  • Dress for success. If you are applying for an executive or managerial position, have your collar pressed and your tie straight. 
  • Have the photographer try to capture some of your personal brand attributes in your expression. They may include one or more of the following: leader-like, sincere, assertive, strong, charismatic, steady, creative, humorous, outgoing, confident, etc. 
  • If you are worried about age discrimination, then feel free to touch up the gray hairs and use a healthy layer of foundation for a youthful and energetic appearance. 
  • Finally, try to look as up-to-date as possible. This means having your hair style and your clothing style current. 

See how great a professional headshot can be by viewing the image in this blog post. If you are in the New Jersey/New York area, contact Mat. Otherwise, try to find someone whose work looks great close to home.

Having a high quality photo for your LinkedIn profile can draw the viewer in and prompt a contact with a recruiter or hiring authority. 


Topics: executive resumes, executive resume, LinkedIn profile, LinkedIn photo career management

Interview Follow-up: 10 Things to Do Right

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Nov 28, 2011 12:46:00 PM


A good first impression can be squandered without an equally good follow-up. It's important to follow up with the employer in a way that shows your continued interest and helps your candidacy. Here are 10 tips:

  1. Send a thank-you note on the same day as the interview. Make it handwritten, sincere, and appreciative of the interviewer's time. This gesture alone differentiates you from the competition who often don't send thank-you notes.
  2. Don't just thank them for their time. Clarify any points that you failed to communicate well in the interview. Expand on some of your answers to more clearly demonstrate how you can add value. 
  3. Write a brief email with key achievements you didn't have time to mention, such as how you increased productivity, cut costs, or expanded the client base at your previous job.
  4. Use a range of different media for follow up: phone, fax, email, snail mail.
  5. If you've got an idea about how to help the company achieve its financial and strategic goals, don't be afraid to mention it along with a brief Challenge-Action-Results verbal snapshot about how you helped your employers in the past.
  6. Show the employer that you made their company a priority by keeping up with their business news. Attach to an email a news article citing the company's entry into a new market, adoption of an emerging technology, upcoming acquisition, etc. Make an intelligent comment about that news.
  7. Have a professional reference call your interviewer to really drive home the point that you are the right person for the job.
  8. Before following up, make it a point to do some research on company culture. Ask an employee what it is like to work there and what it takes to be successful at the company. If you're lucky, your interest may get passed along up the office chain of command.
  9. Be patient. The hiring process can take longer than you might think. Regular follow-up once every two weeks or so makes sense.
  10. Be persistent in terms of getting through to the hiring manager. If you have something of value to convey, make 10 or 11 attempts (an average number required to reach a busy executive!)

An assertive follow-up effort can make you a more attractive candidate. So, put your thank-you card in the mail, pick up the phone, and improve your odds of getting a second interview.




Topics: job search, executive resumes, interviewing, interview style, executive resume, CIO resumes, Get a Job, Job Interviews, job interview

10 Ways NOT to Follow Up after Job Interviews

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Nov 28, 2011 9:12:00 AM

job interviews, interviewing, job search

Job interviews are like first dates. The follow-up can make or break you. Let's say you've clinched the job interview and left the employer with a firm handshake and a good impression. You don't want them to think you weren't that interested in the job, so get ready to plan your next meeting. Your getting hired may well depend on how you choose to follow up with that employer.

When following up after an interview, you don't have to appear to be "the desperate job seeker." In fact, the real truth is that the employer needs YOU. So be prepared to show them some value that you bring to the table. You are the one with the skills, background, and expertise to help that employer solve some pain the company is having or jumpstart growth. But it's easy to make a mistake in the follow up. So, heed these tips:

  1. Don't call just to follow up. After all, how does your following up benefit your potential employer? Call with something meaningful to say. 
  2. Don't send your resume again. They already have it. Doing so will only clutter their inbox.
  3. Don't call back the same day. The interview process takes a while and they are likely to be interviewing other candidates.
  4. Don't leave long-winded voicemails inquiring about the hiring process.
  5. Don't send emails about the voicemails that you left. Overdoing it can be a turnoff to the employer
  6. Don't sound frustrated or annoyed on the phone if they are not responding in the way you would have liked.
  7. Don't go over the head of your interviewer. If your interview is with the senior program manager, don't try to contact the CIO.
  8. Don't skip the follow-up phone call altogether. This makes you appear uninterested.
  9. Don't miss their next phone call. Make time right then to speak with them or set a firm appointment for another time when you are free.
  10. Don't let them forget about you. Send a thank-you note after your interview. Then get in touch with them in some of the ways listed in my next blog post.

So, find a happy medium between stalker and slacker when following up after an interview. The goal is to help the interviewer remember you and want to engage with you further.




Topics: job search, executive resumes, interviewing, executive resume, executive job search, Job Interviews, job interview

In a Job Search, Who Gets Hired? The MBA or Certified Technologist?

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Nov 18, 2011 4:48:00 PM

Image teamleadImage courtesy of jscreationszs

Let's get real. In business, the guy with the Ivy League MBA usually gets hired first, for IT management positions.  Companies want to hire a graduate of a nationally ranked Business Management program that has been awarded high praise by Business Week or The Economist. However, in today's innovation economy, the MBA has a rival for some management positions: the IT Certified Technologist. 

In terms of cost and time efficiencies, IT certifications yield fairly high value for a lower investment of time and money.  So, while MBA graduates have spent anywhere between one and three years earning their advanced degree, an IT specialist has had the chance to earn certifications in multiple, specialized fields in a more condensed period of time.  

MBA graduates, especially those who come from a top-ranked program, develop business acument through studying finance, marketing, and entrepreneurism. MBA graduates have often studied under the leading professors in their field, endured the rigors of academia, and demonstrated their business savvy through varied internships. 

An IT Certified Technologist, on the other hand, has had intense training in technologies that may give a competitive advantage to the employer. With options ranging from Global Information Assurance Certification, Cisco Certified Security Professional Certification, Certified Information Systems Auditor, and CompTIA Security Certification, IT specialists bring a lot to the table. 

Not only have IT certifications proven to be valuable indicators of field mastery, they also correlate with wage increases, promotions, and new employment opportunities. In a study of 700 network professionals, conducted by Network World and SolarWinds, over two-thirds of the respondents reported that an IT Certification had earned them a new job. Almost one-third of the Certified Technologists surveyed said that professional certifications earned them promotions and salary increases. The evidence from this study suggests that IT certifications improve the employment prospects and earning potential of IT professionals. 

Perhaps it comes down to how critical technical mastery is to increasing profits and driving sales. In the balance, does business acumen trump technical knowledge? It appears that the greater the level of authority, the more critical is the business skill set. Certified Technologists who really "get" how to leverage contemporary and emerging technology to advantage their company have a valuable role to play. If they add business management skills to the mix, they are increasingly competitive for the top jobs.   


Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, technology executive resumes, interviewing, executive resume writing, executive resume, CIO resumes, career management, career planning, executive job search, Get a Job, career services, career brand, IT resumes

3 Very Easy Shortcuts to Getting a Personal Brand

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Nov 4, 2011 7:30:00 PM

personal brand

When people first hear that they need a "personal brand" to get a job, they often can't relate. First they think, "I am not a consumer product. The whole idea of branding myself turns me off!" And then they worry about how they are going to get this foreign thing, this personal brand, so that they can compete in the job market. They assume that their personal brand is going to be hard to figure out on their own.

There is a shortcut to going through a long process of personal branding. (Please note here that I am a Certified Personal Branding Strategist and have seen the incredible benefits that come when an individual goes through an in-depth process of self-discovery with a strategist!) But it isn't for everyone.

This personal branding shortcut is for people who are short on time, money, and/or interest and who just want to be as competitive as they can be in looking for their next job.

Here's what to do. Answer the following three questions and then use those answers in your resume, both in the Summary section at the top of the resume and in the body of the resume itself. And Voila! you'll have a personal brand that will serve you well.

1. What do people value you for most at work? What would they miss the most, in terms of getting work done, if you weren't there? What do people turn to you for?

2. What is your value proposition? Define this in terms of your ability to contribute to reducing costs, adding revenue, increasing profit margins, streamlining processes, reducing time-to-market, improving internal and external client satisfaction, enhancing user experience, innovating to add new functionality or revenue streams, amping up team performance, reducing risk etc.

3. What five adjectives would people use to describe you? Things like leader like, entrepreneurial, smart, creative, international etc. Pick the ones that have particular bearing on helping you be successful at work.

Then, at the top of your resume, after your name and contact information, center your title - that is, your job or the job you are seeking. Underneath your title write a sentence about how you typically add value to an organization, your answer to #2. Center it and put it in bold. This is the most important piece of a brand to an employer, for obvious reasons.

Then, in a brief summary paragraph or set of bullet points in the top third of page one, include answers to #1 and #3, along with your other credentials.

Then be sure that you demonstrate your value proposition (#2) in the achievements you talk about in your resume.

If you can't think of the answers to any of the three questions above, ask your co-workers for their take on what makes you special, unique, and valuable to an organization.

This quick start guide to do-it-yourself personal branding may be sufficient to accurately and authentically differentiate you from your competition and help you get your next job! Good luck with it - and let me know how it goes!


Topics: LinkedIn, personal branding, executive resumes, technology executive resumes, interviewing, executive resume writing, executive resume, technology resumes, career management, executive job search, Get a Job, Job Interviews, personal brands, LinkedIn Profiles, career brand, reputation management

7 Tips: Land Mines to Avoid in Your CIO Executive Resume

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Oct 31, 2011 4:54:00 PM

Get Your Next NIf you are vying for  the top technology job in an organization, your resume has to follow best practices for writing executive resumes. But CIOs potentially face land mines that other C-level execs don't have to worry about. Here are seven of them:

  1. Don't Blow the Title. The top technology executive in an organization can have a different title depending on the company: CIO, CTO, VP of IT, or some of the other emerging names that converge technology and a functional business specialty (such as Executive VP of Marketing Applications). You want to be sure you capture the most common ones if you’re not going to tailor your resume to each job (the best idea). That way your keywords will help you show up in a search. If you are targeting a specific job, use that title.

  2. Don't Describe the Wrong Job. The top technology leader in an organization can have a scope of responsibility that varies widely from company to company. Try to provide as close a match as possible to the requirements of the specific position. This is another reason to tailor your resume. If you don’t tailor, be sure you include the primary competencies that a CIO is expected to have in a range of environments.

  3. Don't, Whatever You Do, Lead with Your Technology Skill Set! The technology leader is not, unless the company is a startup or a very small firm, usually the person who does the coding! So don’t write your resume emphasizing the exhaustive technical skill set you bring to the table! For the top job, people will be interested in you for your executive leadership, strategy, and technology visioning skills.  

  4. Don't Be Fooled into Thinking that the Top Job is Just about Technology. Think like a business-side C-level executive. Do not convey your major contributions and accomplishments in technology terms alone. Always be thinking about impact on top and bottom lines, considered broadly.                                                                         

  5. Don't Just Put in Your Accomplishments! That's so nineties. Sure, translate your accomplishments into quantifiable results. BUT, take the next step of putting them in context in order to convey the significance of the achievement – this single step alone will put you ahead of most of your competition.                           

  6. Don't Miss Out on Conveying your Brand. Articulate your career brand and value proposition so powerfully that you become the candidate of choice. There are a lot of great technology leaders out there with strong records. Don't come across as just capable. 

  7. Don't Write a Resume that Looks Like the Ones in Most of the Resume Books! Make your value prop pop out visually, so that the reader, whether viewing your resume on a smart phone, computer, or hard copy, will be able to grasp what you uniquely bring to the table inside of 3 seconds! Forget 20 seconds. We're talking 3.

Because CIO resumes are different from other C-suite resume and require very sophisticated handling,  be sure to pay attention to the above tips. Be as strategic in your executive resume writing as you will be in the job you aspire too - and good luck!


Image courtesy of jscreationzs





Topics: executive resumes, executive resume writing, executive resume, CIO resumes, executive job search, Get a Job, career brand

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Tyrone Norwood