I work with a lot of high-level professionals, from senior leaders through the C-suite. Regardless of the position, these high-level roles are never simple in scope. No senior leader or executive is ever responsible for just one minor, very straightforward part of the enterprise. This fact can make it very challenging for high-level professionals to concisely communicate the scope of their roles on a resume.
Given that, it is not surprising to me when I start working with an executive who has a three or four-page resume that includes a laundry list of responsibilities. What is surprising is that these very same executives will almost always emphatically agree to a concise new resume. They’ll often respond with some version of:
“I don’t have time myself to read anything more than two pages and I certainly don’t need to be told what a VP of Operations does…I’m the one hiring for the position.”
Think about that. People don’t want to read long resumes and they feel slightly put off at the idea of someone going into too much detail about the role they are hiring for. Yet their own resume is a litany of responsibilities and a detailed explanation of each role.
How can these two things be true?
Many people – despite their own feelings about reading resumes and personal experience with hiring – believe that readers want to know everything about their experience. That belief is fortified by a fear that not providing lots of details will be perceived as a lack of qualifications. But that is just not the case. Additionally, it is very challenging to view one’s own experience objectively, which makes it really difficult to thoughtfully curate experience and achievements on a resume.
Here’s a quick example. A CTO I recently worked with shared an exhaustive list of responsibilities associated with his role. The list could easily be summed up as “managing the entire enterprise IT function.” So that – with a brief outline of the scope of the business for context – is all we listed as an overview of the position. I learned shortly after wrapping up the project that he had several interviews immediately after sending this resume out and that people specifically commented on how much they appreciated his concise resume.
So, in the spirit of concision, let me summarize this post into one sentence.
Trust your readers and create the concise resume that you would want to read.
You’ll be surprised at how effective it will be.