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

Linkedin's Accept All Invites: Career Disaster or Career Deliverance?

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Jan 12, 2012 9:22:00 AM

Image linkedin button

You hear it from every direction. From LinkedIn, for starters, and from bloggers like Tim's Strategy. We are exhorted to limit our connections to only people we know, like, and trust. To strive for quality in our networking relationships on LinkedIn. To build our network strategically and nurture it carefully.

I can see that. I really can. I think, "Wouldn't it be great to be in contact with a couple of hundred professionals with whom I touch base now and then - so that we can benefit each other in meangingful ways?" Who am I kidding?? I barely have time to keep up with the daily demands of my work, much less nurture such a quality network!

I admire people who can develop an extensive high-quality network! But in advising my clients - technology executives in transition - do I advise them to work to build out such a high-touch network? Let me tell you what I tell them.

"If you want to leverage LinkedIn to get your next job and for long-term career advancement, connect with everybody who touches on your industry space as well as all the recruiters you can." Why?

Recruiters and hiring authorities are on LinkedIn often, if not constantly! Although many of the Fortune 100 firms are able to pay for unlimited access to the full network, many other companies are taking advantage of the free membership option. That means they are limited to searches within their own networks. Let me say that another way. If you have a relatively small network (one populated with people you know or know of), your chances of being included in the universe of profiles that that person searches in are small.

From where I sit, if you are counting on a passive presence on LI to get you a job and you haven't built out a large network, your chances of being found are slim.

The same holds true if you want to do a search for recruiters or hiring authorities and explore job opportunities. With a free membership, you are only able to search among your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree connections. That's a whole lot of possible job connections you will miss out on if you have a small network.

There are ways on LI to connect with LIONs (LinkedIn Open Networkers) in your industry (software, telecom, etc.) or area of functional specialty (i.e., IT, finance, sales & marketing etc.). LIONs usually have 500+ connections. By connecting with them, you will be expanding your network exponentially. Your chances of being included in a search go up. So does your ability to identify job possibilities within your own, now-much-wider network.

The job search benefit you gain from accepting all invites and proactively linking with LIONs in your space is very real. But that doesn't make the decision to explode your LI network a slam/dunk. That's because some people, including LI, frown on these practices. You may be concerned that people will think less of you if you don't have a carefully curated list of connections. Yes, there's a chance that will work against you - or even be a career disaster.

But I encourage my clients to take the risk of growing their networks beyond people known to them, because the upside long-term for their careers can be great. And if you are able to capture in your profile the keywords hiring authorities and recruiters are likely to search for, you have a much higher chance of being included in the resumes reviewed. And therefore a much higher chance of getting in the door. Don't forget to make your executive resumes agree in brand and content with your LinkedIn profile.

It strikes me as somewhat "precious" on the part of LI to expect people to disdain such an obvious opportunity. As a professional network, LI is all about work and career. Job search is an inevitableout to more recruiters, why is that so wrong? Makes sense to me. What do you think? I'd love to know! And...I accept all invites! So feel free to contact me on LI!


Topics: job search, executive resumes, technology executive resumes, LinkedIn accept all invites

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

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

Is Your Resume at Risk? ATS Pitfalls to Avoid

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Dec 1, 2011 11:28:00 AM

Image Keywords

I spent an enlightening hour attending a webinar offered by Jonathan Ciampi, a former executive at an ATS (applicant tracking system) company. He has started a new business, Preptel, to help job seekers increase their odds of success. He talked about how ATS works and implications for your resume.

Putting his input together with other information about ATS, I've compiled the most important things to avoid in order to optimize your resume for search.

1. Format: Do not submit a highly formatted resume electronically. Stick to a simple format or save your highly formatted resume as a .txt (ASCII) file. Most ATS will scramble tables, graphs, and graphics, defeating your purpose in presenting them. Take your beautiful, creative resume to the interview.

2. Keywords: Don't assume that it is enough to include the common keywords for your position, level, function, and industry or the ones in a job posting! Many ATS will identify as keywords the uncommon, unique-to-the-job-posting words or phrases in the job ad. This practice cuts down dramatically on the number of resumes retrieved for consideration by the hiring authority or recruiter.

3. Headings: Most ATS will only recognize the common headings: Work Experience or Professional Experience, Education, and sometimes Professional Summary. Eliminate creative headings such as "Career Highlights." 

4. Sections: Extra sections - that is, those that don't have the common titles listed in #3 - won't be stored. So if you have information essential to your application, such as certifications, community activities, publications etc., I suggest you include it under the Education heading.

5. Contact Information: Leave it out of the Header and Footer sections. Put it at the top of page one. And do include both home and mobile phone numbers if you have them.

6. Process: Don't paste your resume into a field online. Rather, upload it if given the opportunity. Chances are better that the formatting will remain intact with this method.

7. Acronyms & Abbreviations: Don't rely on acronyms alone. Include the full language. For instance, don't use USPs for "unique selling points." ATS should process common acronyms correctly, such as BA, MA, and MBA, but may not process other tech and business acronyms right.

8. Keyword Use: Newer ATS recognizes keywords in proper context within a sentence or word group. Don't rely solely on a keyword list. Let the job ad be your guide about which keywords to use in context. You may still want to provide a keyword list at the end of your resume under "Education" to cover the bases.

9. Source: Don't neglect to indicate where you heard about the job. ATS tracks sources and ranks some more highly than others, such as employee referrals over the big job boards.

10. Job Description: Don't forget that the ATS software will be searching for the descriptions of your jobs. Many people have been leaving that out in favor of just achievements. Time to put them back in!

If you are like a lot of people, you probably wish that the resume you worked so hard on to make visually attractive and easy to grasp would be seen on the first pass. Unfortunately, it isn't even seen on the second pass. The resume you submit to most large companies and many small-to-mid-sized ones gets mined for data that then populates fields on a form that the HR employee or recruiter sees (not your resume). Your resume may in fact only be seen at the time of an interview.

One further thought on length. If you need to go longer to adequately communicate what you've done and integrate keywords into context, go ahead. The software doesn't care!



Topics: executive resumes, ATS, applicant tracking software, resume, resumes, IT executive resume, keywords

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

On-the-job Praise Leads to Cheating?? Job Search Hints

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Nov 10, 2011 9:29:00 AM

Image focus2510j9cb5zn8jt

(Beautiful image by Federico Stevanin)

What?? Here we've always been told that giving positive feedback is important. And we've always felt it helps improve behavior (of our co-workers, direct reports, spouse, kids!) So what does the new study on the subject suggest for job seekers in particular?

A Harvard Business Review blog post by David Rock, Praise Leads to Cheating, suggests some provocative conclusions. A Carol Dweck study presented at the NeuroLeadership Summit in 2011 finds that praising someone's talent, intelligence, or some other quality viewed to be "inborn" makes the person more inclined to lie about their performance (3x more likely) and less likely to take risks.

Those whose work is praised are more likely to take learning risks and be truthful about their performance. The critical distinction here is between praising someone for a static trait s/he is born with and for a work product that is the result of effort. Dweck is quoted as saying:  "trusting in the value of hard work and effort is not just a stronger predictor of success, but a much more powerful motivator."

She contrasts the "fixed" mindset of people in the "inborn quality" camp and the dynamic, willing-to-take risks-and-learn-new-things attitude of those who believe that their hard work will produce results - she calls it a belief in the neutroplasticity of the brain.

What does this mean for job seekers? Job search involves large elements of learning new behaviors and information and taking significant risks. If you can prime yourself with the belief that you can, by hard work and trying new things, be successful at getting a job, you will be much more likely to acheve your goals.

Let go of any ideas such as "more talented people than I are getting the jobs," or "you have to be really smart to do that," or "I'm not as good as the rest" or any other belief in the fixed quality of your traits. 

Focus instead on your ability to make something great happen for yourself through dint of hard work and taking risks. Risks would include networking boldly and actively and directly approaching hiring managers. They would also include becoming more active in online conversations (LinkedIn, Twitter). It's within YOUR power!



Topics: job search, executive resumes, CIO resumes, career management, career planning, executive job search

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Tyrone Norwood