Dear Dave Column: Resume Writing for the Executive

Apr 12, 2002

CIO Update Staff

Dear Dave:

I'm stuck. I don't know where to begin or end in writing my resume. I've had a great career for the past 22 years but when I attempt to put it down on paper the results are long and boring. My resume would put you to sleep. Resume reviewers have given some helpful guidance but I feel like I need to start over. Any suggestions would be welcome.

Larry P.

Dear Larry:

Many professionals would sympathize with your resume writing frustration as it's not easy to package yourself in two pages - especially when preoccupied by the thought of a pending job search.

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Dealing with Unresponsive Recruiters : How to handle recruiters who don't know how to communicate.

Prepare Now For Your Next Career Move : Five tips to follow to prepare you for finding a new job.

Keep in mind that a resume is not just a tool to get your foot in the door, it is also a key component in the process of reviewing your background, responsibilities, knowledge, skills, and successes. Drafting a resume can help you identify and clarify how you can solve an employer's problems - a critical question that often separates candidates during the interview process.

Over the past 10 years, senior-level resumes have evolved to focus primarily on accomplishments. Judy Rosemarin, president of Sense-Able Strategies Inc., and a facilitator for our networking meetings in New York City, reminds us that "executives often limit themselves by climbing into and staying inside career trenches that typically have a functional job description attached to them."

According to Judy, "It is more productive for an executive to understand what particular problems one is good at solving. Often, you can then explain to a prospective employer your value to the new organization. Focusing on these problems enables you to take a P-A-R approach. Here was the Problem (or situation). Here was the Action we took. Here was the Result. Focusing on problem solving abilities in the resume process rather than on a job description also enables you to begin to realize how these abilities can enable you to cross into other functions, industries, and business arenas where these skills may be of value."

It's not easy to compose accomplishment statements because most of us are not used to thinking and writing about ourselves in sales and marketing terms, which is just one of the reasons why I would recommend you work with a professional resume writer rather than trying to prepare the resume yourself.

However, whether you write the resume yourself or with the help of a professional, the time you invest in identifying, clarifying, articulating, and quantifying your accomplishments will pay off throughout your search.

Good luck!

Dave Opton is CEO and founder of ExecuNet, an online career services center for executives. For more information on executive career management visit Questions can be sent to him at Although he can't answer each individually but look for yours in an upcoming column.


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