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8 Resume Success Factors to Get Noticed!

8 Resume Success Factors to Get Noticed!

Resume success factorsI get asked every day about resume best practices and resume success factors.

People want to know where to start, what to believe, and how to write a strong resume if: “I don’t have anything awesome to share”.

Trust me; everyone has plenty of awesome things to share in their resume as addressed in this post: How to Add Achievements into Your Resume.



Other common resume questions I field:

One page, two pages, or three pages❓

Graphics or no graphics❓

Which keywords to include or avoid❓

How far back do I go with my work history❓

The answer to ALL of the above is ‘it depends’. You are unique; therefore, your resume will be unique as well.

Unfortunately, I don’t have one magic resume formula that works for every job seeker, but for me, all great resumes stem from the same 8 success factors. The following points summarize the key areas I feel should be carefully considered to create a successful resume:


1. Write your resume with your audience top of mind

Yes, the resume may be all about you but it isn’t meant FOR you. Have a clearly defined target picked out so content can be shaped more specifically and speak more directly to each reader’s needs.  General resumes don’t work.

2. Keep content relevant; tailor details

Similar to the point above, the more specific the content in a resume = the better. One, single stagnant resume can not possibly address every job’s requirements and nuances.  Customize your resume content in just a few simple steps for each application.

3. Share real-life examples of success; not generalized details or superlative statements

Fluffy details like ‘excellent people-person’ or ‘strong team leader’ don’t provide enough context. Instill confidence in the reader with specific stories and concrete examples of achievement.

4. Provide proof. Back up claims with results  

Context without results is like a story without an ending. Employers need a way to measure ability and impact. Quantitative details help support your level of success, so be sure to share ‘how many, how much, and how often’. Proof of ability often lies within results. 

5. Strive for quality of content versus quantity

In a resume, more can be less. The file is not meant to act as a complete career chronology of everything you’ve ever done.  A resume is a marketing tool that must summarize your top-selling points succinctly.

6. Stay authentic

Never feel pressured to write your resume like someone else. Your skill sets are unique, your experiences are unique, and your value is all your own. You can’t box every single person’s career story into one type of resume format. Ensure your resume embraces your true self and shares details both uniquely and authentically.

7. Make the resume as long as you need to convey the above and not one word more

Depending on your career length, experiences, and job target, your resume length will vary. Average resume length is 1-3 pages – pick what works best for YOU; no need to conform to page length myths.

8. Emphasize your value

All of the above points must center around the value you bring to the table. Identify the pain points of each application/organization/employer and position yourself as their problem solver. To accomplish this, you need to first know thyself.  What do you have that your competitors do not? How can you positively impact the organization in question?


If you are struggling to write a resume on your own, incorporating these 8 resume success factors, reach out. My personal executive resume writing process is comprehensive and customized.  It is caring and collaborative.  It is also strategic and supportive.

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3 Quick Ways to Update Your Executive Resume

3 quick ways to update your executive resume

Professional man cheering with his hands up while looking at a computer as he updates his executive resume

Your dream job jumped out of nowhere, and you need an updated executive resume in a pinch? If it’s been some time since you’ve dusted off your file and need it NOW, here are 3 quick ways to update your executive resume and get it noticed.

  1. Find Your Focus

Winning executive resumes have a clear focus. What is it that you do best? How do you want potential employers to see you and your career story?

Having a clear job target ensures you can position yourself as the perfect fit. It’s much easier to sell yourself to employers when you develop a personal brand that showcases specific career highlights and accomplishments.

Pinpoint what you can do for an employer – what’s the one big problem you can solve? How do your skillsets, qualifications, and experience help an organization excel? Once you know your value proposition, be sure every point on your resume supports it.

Know what they need.

To truly position yourself as the one for this role, you need to know precisely what this company needs. Spending a little time upfront to research the company gives you an area of focus, so you can highlight the specifics they are looking for. Even skimming company literature and job postings is a great place to start. Pay particular attention to the keywords and phrases you see repeatedly (and mirror their language back at them!)

Showcase your achievements.

Boring job descriptions blend in with the crowd – but hard-hitting business facts and results jump off the page and demand attention! Employers want to see what you have achieved as a top leader. The best executive resumes include proof to back up the claims.

Use action words and phrases with numbers, percentages, or comparisons to describe your positions.


  1. Make ruthless cuts.

You only have a couple of pages to make a significant impact—every word matters. Recruiters and employers will spend approximately 6-7 seconds on the first pass of a file. Be sure the essential points don’t get lost in a sea of unnecessary words.

Edit your file and delete unnecessary content, outdated phrases, and overused words.

While your resume is about you, it should focus on what you can do for a company, not what YOU like to see on the file. Keep all points relevant to the value you offer.

Typically, executive resumes only detail work history from the last 10-15 years and run 2-3 pages in length. Ensure every role has a brief overview (what you stepped into and where you took things) and bullet your accomplishment statements.

Delete any overused words that will show up on every other file (detail-oriented, team player, outstanding communication skills). Rather than SAYING these things, give examples that SHOW how you put these skills to work to achieve results.

Be sure to leave off outdated phrases such as “references available on request” (they know and will ask if they want them). And cut any unnecessary words – can you say it in 1 word instead of 3? Do it!


  1. Clean up the format.

Readability is your number one goal. Most recruiters and hiring managers prefer a clean, easy-to-read format. Simple is better, with clearly defined sections, standard fonts, and lots of white space.

  • Use a format that adds interest while highlighting the specifics you want to jump OUT.
  • Use keywords to your advantage – there may be certain words or phrases you include on your file to get better noticed as a match, but your #1 priority is to optimize for the human eye. Make sure your reader’s eye is drawn to key points.
  • Add interest to your file with colour, bold text, or italics (used sparingly and strategically).
  • Avoid lengthy paragraphs or text-heavy bullet points. Make sure details are easy to skim and scan.
  • Use titled sections to organize and make it easy for your reader to find the info they seek.
  • Use numerals instead of writing out numbers and the % or $ signs instead of the words.
  • Keep the style consistent throughout.
  • Lead with results (meaning, start the statement with the result) versus burying results far within the text. Remember that readers scan left to right, so placing results near the left side of the page will make it easier to pick them out.


While I always recommend being prepared with an updated file on hand. When time is of the essence, these 3 quick ways to update your executive resume can help get your file into interviewers’ hands!

For more tips on crafting an outstanding executive resume, check out 7 Must-Haves for an Impactful Executive Resume.

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7 Must-Haves for an Impactful Executive Resume

7 Must-Haves

As an executive looking for your next leadership challenge, you need your executive resume to make an impact and stand out from the crowd! A dry autobiography with a list of qualifications and job tasks isn’t going to achieve that for you.

Ensure your executive resume does not read as a history of your career (looking back) but as a marketing document (looking forward) that sells a specific product (you!) to a defined target market (your dream company).

Here are 7 must-haves to create an impactful executive resume that gets you noticed for top jobs.


7 Must-Haves for an Impactful Executive Resume

  1. Quantifiable results.

What details are unique only to you? What information can you share in your resume that no one else can? Your results.

A list of qualifications and generic responsibilities can be found on many executive resumes. But stories, accomplishments, and challenges unique to your leadership story will help you stand out from the crowd.

Give specific examples of how you cut costs, increased revenues, or saved time (give numbers, even if they are approximate). Share about times that you overcame obstacles to achieve success, directed teams to great outcomes, or turned around operations/situations/finances.

Emphasize relevant results to the particular company you’re applying to.

Use a storytelling formula to share your results:

  • Implemented new procedures that saved the company $40K over 3 months.
  • Led a team of 12 to increase sales by 30% over the previous year.


  1. Leadership skills

Unique to executive-level resumes, employers want to see what you can do and how you can lead and develop a team, a division, or a business to drive results. Demonstrate your ability to manage, find, and develop talent. Speak to your ability to direct processes and budgets.

Results-driven scenarios are a great start, but executive resumes also need to highlight leadership savvy. How have you mentored, guided, or helped lead a team to success? What is your leadership style and how has that benefited others? How have your decisions improved an organization?


  1. Modern format with white space

We are visual creatures and make quick decisions. Your executive resume might get skipped over if you have an outdated format crammed with big blocks of text.  If the file is hard to read, key content may never be seen or read!

Recruiters and hiring managers often begin with a quick scan, spending only a few seconds on the first pass. A modern format that quickly displays key areas ensures the essentials are easy to spot. A clean format also makes it easy for a reader to track through the file and pick out big wins and relatable details.

Use an accessible format that draws attention to the most crucial information, is pleasing to the eye, includes appropriate white space, and visually sets you up as the senior professional that you are.


  1. An eye-catching start (professional summary)

The top one-third of your resume is prime real estate – you want to capture attention early to get your readers engaged. Start strong with a clear headline that states intent (Executive Leader ….Chief Executive Officer….or EVP of Operations are examples). Next, ensure the opening shares an obvious benefit – how can you make an impact? What are you best known for?

This is not a ‘save the best for last’ type situation – if you don’t grab attention early, readers may not stick around to read to the end.

Make the start of your executive resume easy to read with a benefit statement and 4-5 bullet points of your career highlights (with quantifiable results). Mine up some of your best and most impactful successes near the start of the file. Feed the reader the really good stuff, first!


  1. Core proficiencies section

Soft skills and core proficiencies should focus on executive-level skillsets like change management, people development, risk mitigation, emotional intelligence, adaptability, financial stewardship, optimization, or innovation.

Target this section of your resume to each position. Think of the essential skills recruiters or hiring committees are looking to check off their list. Aim for critical proficiencies (both hard and soft) unique to your industry (rather than generic skills like ‘team player’ or ‘detailed oriented’).


  1. Keywords and phrases

Although I’m sure you are also networking, using LinkedIn, and working with recruiters, there may also be times when your executive resume needs to pass through an applicant tracking system.

Write for both humans (first and foremost) but also consider the system. Both ‘readers’ need to see alignment in resume content. Consider the keywords and phrases in the target job to address in your executive resume to improve file performance.

Use the job posting as a guide. The posting includes all the words and key phrases to consider. Integrate select words and phrases organically and truthfully throughout the file.


  1. Work History

This seems obvious, but I must mention it….an executive resume needs more than a history of your work and a list of responsibilities. The goal is to show how each role and company contributes to your career story. How can you highlight your value and impact? Can you provide the proof?

Tell a story about your career history, but do it succinctly. Heavy detail is not as important as quality facts.

Avoid a list of duties beginning with “I was responsible for”. Instead, start points with action words such as innovated, developed, motivated, helmed, generated, or directed.

Aim for reverse chronological order and focus heavily on your last 10-15 years of experience. If you have earlier experience that is VERY relevant, there are ways to position big impacts from earlier times in the file without having to go into great depth.


You only have one chance to make a first impression. Be sure your executive-level resume grabs attention, engages your readers, and gives an obvious benefit, demonstrating the value and impact you have to offer a company.

For more tips and resources on crafting an impactful executive resume, visit my blog or review a list of my award-winning executive resume writing services.


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Executive Resume Phrases to Avoid – Say THIS, not THAT

Say this not that

As an executive, I’m sure you’ve had a resume or two come across your desk filled with cliches and overused buzz words. When we hear the same executive resume phrases and claims over and over, we begin to tune them out, and all the resumes blend together.

There are times in life when we want to follow the crowd and times in life when we want to STAND OUT, rise above, and position ourselves as unique individuals. (Like when you’re fighting with hundreds of other qualified job applicants for only ONE coveted leadership position).

To truly stand out with a memorable executive resume, you want to ditch the cliched phrases, overused buzzwords, and weak language.

Keep in mind that buzzwords are different from keywords. Keywords that actively describe essential qualifications should be left in to help your resume demonstrate clear alignment with the target job.  Just be sure to add supporting evidence to back keywords up.


Phrases to Avoid on Your Executive Resume  


  1. Overused catchphrases that hiring managers and recruiters see day after day.

Once they’ve heard the same thing hundreds of times from hundreds of candidates, the words lose all meaning and feel inauthentic and redundant. (Which certainly won’t help you stand out among a sea of competitors).

Leave these common phrases off your resume:

  • Superior communication skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Exceeded expectations
  • Proven track record of success

While these phrases may describe YOU, they can also very easily describe just about everyone who is applying for the job. Instead of falling back on old favourites, provide proof! Rather than tell what you’re good at, how can you show what you’re good at?

Be specific and provide examples. Rather than say you have superior communication skills, show how the skill helped you achieve great things for the organization. Are you an excellent presenter who delivers regular business reports to the board or is called upon to share thought leadership at conferences? Do you engage staff through regular communication touchpoints? What did these communications tactics achieve? That’s the info you want to share.

Instead of saying you exceeded expectations, share how and give concrete examples of success. Perhaps you directed the implementation of a national operating strategy, which was projected to save the company $500K. Well, maybe your leadership promoted a heightened culture of continuous improvement that reduced inefficiencies well beyond initial goals, generating $1.2M in annual cost savings. Now that’s an example of exceeding expectations!

To stand out from the crowd, executive resumes need metrics!



  1. Weak verbs.

Use strong language on your executive resume. Avoid repetitive common verbs such as managed, helped, managed, supported, managed (you see the negative pattern here?). You have limited space to prove yourself, so make every word count. Leverage high-action language to enforce your high-level abilities.

Swap out weak verbs:

  • “Responsible for” – to: oversaw, spearheaded, launched
  • “Organized” –to: executed, monitored, established
  • “Assisted”- try: facilitated, collaborated, or partnered with
  • “Managed” – to: championed, directed, drove

Looking for more inspiration? Here are 60 executive resume action words to consider.


  1. Fluff and fillers that aren’t pulling their weight.

Be ruthless with your editing to ensure you don’t have any redundant content or unnecessary information. Start strong to grab attention and give resume readers only the good stuff! Ensure details align with the target job and demonstrate value.

  • Forget the career objective statement. Consider a branding statement or short and succinct Summary that defines your differentiators.
  • Provide only relevant job experience within the last 10 – 15 years. Only share earlier history if required or extremely related.
  • Eliminate “references upon request” (it’s unnecessary – employers know they can ask).
  • Ensure every detail relates to THIS job – some accomplishments and experience will be more relevant than others.
  • Skip the basics and focus on your higher-level skills and accomplishments. Don’t default to sharing duties; emphasize leadership impacts and results.
  • Read the job description carefully and curate resume statements based on the qualifications and outcomes for each specific role.


Replace overused phrases with specific examples that demonstrate how you put those skills to work to achieve great things! Use concrete metrics that only you have to set yourself apart and rise above the competition. When reading your executive resume, pause on each point and ask yourself:

  • “So what?”. Why does this point matter? Does it demonstrate specific skills?
  • Is this point unique to me, or is this something anyone could share?
  • Am I using active language that aligns with my career level?
  • Can I strengthen this content with more specifics or metrics (think: how many, how much, how often?).
  • Does this statement matter to THIS audience?


If you found this helpful, check out 22 Resume Tips for 2022. Visit me online to learn more about my executive resume writing services for top professionals across North America.

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How to Start Strong & Capture Attention Early in an Executive Resume

Start strong

The start of an executive resume (top 1/3) is prime real estate. Gone are the days when you opened with a career objective. Instead, start the file with an impactful brand statement or powerful executive summary that aligns value offering with job requirements.

You have only seconds to capture attention and keep your readers interested. Employers spend 11 seconds (on average) on the first pass of your resume before deciding whether to keep reading or move on to the next.

Start strong and give them a reason to keep reading!


The Start of an Executive Resume – Put Your Best Foot Forward

Because the top of your file is the most read, you want to lead with pertinent information and give your reader an obvious benefit. How are you going to help THEM solve problems and reach THEIR goals?

Aim to highlight your core leadership skills and accomplishments, positioning yourself as the perfect fit for the role.

Think of the top of your executive resume as a trailer for a movie – pique interest, and hiring managers will lean in to say, “tell me more!”


Lead with an obvious benefit to the reader

What is a significant benefit you can give potential employers? What are your core strengths as they relate to the target job? What have been some of your significant exposures, impacts, or top skills?

Consider a strong resume header that folds together related strengths and shares a few high-impact successes or provides clear scope and oversight metrics — that matter to the reader! Examples:


Chief Operating Officer

$2Bn P&L | 850 Employees | International Operations | 60% Company Growth in 10 Years


Chief Commerical Officer

High-Growth Strategies | Product & Service Innovations | Brand & Business Development

P&L: $125M | Revenue Growth: $0 to $100M | Weekly Sales Growth: 150%


Chief Executive Officer

$14B in P&L ~ 2,000 Employees ~ International Operations ~ Multiple Industries



Keep them reading with your brand statement and summary

Your brand story summarizes what you are known for in just a few sentences. The goal is to succinctly relay who you are as a professional, the results you can achieve, and what separates you from your competition.

Potential points to cover in your brand statement or summary:

  • Title and industry
  • Core competencies
  • Main areas of expertise and experience
  • Key accomplishments
  • Relevant years of experience (not always necessary to lead with this, but it could be a benefit)

Try using a format such as WHO, WHY, and HOW to build a brand statement:

‘Output oriented leader (who) who drives revenue and profit growth (why) through continuous improvement and strategic change (how).’

Keep your brand statement clear and concise. If you include a summary make it easy for hiring managers and potential employers to skim and scan. Use short statements to make the most pertinent information pop.


Examples of brand statements and short summaries:



Grows and develops profitable businesses through ambitious strategy and rigorous execution.

Orchestrated turnaround strategies within large, global public companies and across manufacturing, consumer goods, financial services, and technology sectors. Executed 100+ transactions – valued at $22B+ – in financing, IPOs, and mergers and acquisitions across North America and Europe. Managed stakeholder and investor relations.



Scales and grows organizations by building healthy and well-aligned teams and leveraging individual and organizational strengths to effect change.

Transformation catalyst who combines visionary leadership, people development, and innovative thinking to turn around struggling operations, create strong cultures, and grow revenues. 20+ years of experience leading human service programs and non-profit operations rooted in research and learning.  Championed operational and financial transformations and turnarounds, doubling one agency’s growth and expanding budgets by as much as $9M.




Bring it home with bullet points

Bullet points are a great way to quickly highlight core skills and most significant accomplishments in an easy-to-digest format that leaves white space to make your file visually appealing. Now that you have gotten a reader’s attention with a benefit line / brand statement and a summary, continue the story with more detail.

  • Mention significant accomplishments (including metrics for proof)
  • Use action/benefit statements such as “Created and executed sales strategies which escalated profits and revenue, exceeded sales targets, and overachieved organizational goals.”
  • Start each bullet point with a strong verb: created, developed, implemented, or expanded.
  • Lead with results (Added $36M in net profit over 3 years by developing a differentiated product line which decreased service time for end-users).


Example of tying together a headline, brand statement, summary, and bullet points in the opening of an executive resume:



Transforms Corporate Objectives into Bottom-Line Growth. Achieved 60% Profitability Margins and Grew Revenue 400%.

Built fledgling scientific software company into current industry leader. Achieved consistent multimillion-dollar YOY revenue growth and high EBITDA margins. Established worldwide operations, aligning sales and technical teams to improve profitability and growth.

  • Delivered gross revenue 5% above budget and normalized 60% EBITDA margins over last 5 years.
  • Achieved 23% historic revenue growth, with new business across USA and Europe representing 55% of expansion.



The top portion of your executive resume needs to capture and keep the reader’s attention. The goal of the start of the file is to engage the reader and get them wanting more. To achieve this, content must be aligned to job requirements and share value fast!

Start strong and make it easy for hiring managers and potential employers to find the keywords, skills, and ROI they are searching for. If they can easily spot key leadership criteria near the start of the file, the greater the chances they will keep reading.

My professional resume samples can help you master the top of your executive resume or reach out and let’s partner together on a file that gets you noticed for top jobs!

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22 Resume Tips for 2022

22 Resume Tips for 2022

Looking to take your executive resume or job search to the next level to land your next job faster and increase your earning power? I can help! Visit me online at to learn more about my award-winning resume writing, LinkedIn writing, and job search strategies for top professionals and executives located across Canada and the USA.
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Should I use a template for my resume? Do resume templates work?

Should I use a template for my resume? Do resume templates work?

As an executive resume writer, savvy professionals hire me to help them with their resumes for various reasons.

Some people are short on time, some professionals need support unearthing their achievements and positioning their career stories, and other individuals don’t have a good grasp on Word formatting.

All of these top professionals recognize that writing a resume takes more strategy than just ‘filling-in-the-blanks’.

Yet, some people have a good grasp on their brand and related achievements and using a resume template has been effective in getting them interviews.



As a person who writes executive resumes for a living (from scratch), it may seem odd that I am writing on the topic of resume templates.

Yet, I want to shine a light on one of the most widely searched — and used — career files on the internet. Resume templates brought up 151,000,000 results when I searched for them on Google

Resume templates are everywhere. Not all are created equal.


I hear from job seekers that they aren’t always sure what template would work best for them. Some templates are lovely to look at but hard to use. Is a resume template even work trying?

To start, it’s essential to focus on the file’s content if you decide to use a resume template. Not just the design.

What the resume looks like is secondary to what the resume shares (content).

If you buy or download a resume template and still don’t populate it with strong, related content — it doesn’t matter how pretty, fancy, or colourful the file is — it may never get read.

Let’s explore the pros and cons of resume templates in more detail.


Reasons Resume Templates Can be Helpful


They can save time.

There is nothing worse than stumbling across a posting for your dream job but not having a resume on hand. Downloading a resume template can make it faster to put this critical career file together.


The formatting is done for you.

Good resume templates are formatted for you, so if you are not strong with designing a file in Word – that is easy to read and pleasant to look at – then a template can be a lifesaver. They often have sections already determined, so you don’t forget to add the necessary details.


They can help you look more professional.

Resume templates are typically more eye-catching and professional versus a basic black and white typed Word file. They can help you raise your image and better guide a reader’s eye.


Reasons Resume Templates Don’t Always Work


They may not be ATS-Friendly.

I’ve come across a few resume templates that only download as PDFs or image files once complete or include text boxes, all of which may not allow resume content to be properly parsed in ATS (applicant tracking system). 

If you are uploading your resume to an online posting – you want to ensure your resume is formatted in a way that can be effectively scanned by both the system and the eventual human reader.


The design may be distracting.

Some templates are over the top, really busy or excessively bold. Instead of helping you look more professional, these heavily designed files can have the opposite effect. 

Choose a format that is easy to follow, keeping in mind that if a reader struggles to read it, it may not get read at all.

Fancier isn’t better. Consider the appropriateness of the design for your industry and target audience. 


They don’t account for personal strategy.

You are unique; therefore, your career and offerings are unique as well. Some career histories can not conform to a resume template. You may need a unique and distinct strategy to present you as the best candidate for a role.

For example, career changers may want to highlight earlier or more related history strategically near the start of the file. Students may need to spotlight project work or education differently than an experienced professional.

Some resume templates are rigid and don’t enable people to move content around in a way that works best for them and their careers.



Reasons to Use a Resume Template


You are short on time = you need a resume ASAP.

Templates are quick to download. Simply plug and play.


You don’t have a lot of money to spend on a resume.

Many good templates are very inexpensive.


You have a clear job target in mind. 

An absolute must! General resumes don’t work. 


You have specifics, metrics, and achievements ready to share.

The only way the resume will work is if you have the right content and examples to share in it.


You know your personal brand and how it aligns with the role’s pain points.

It is imperative to understand what you are ‘selling’.


You feel confident in your writing ability.

You can write light and tight – saying a lot in a short amount of space, in a way that resonates with each reader. This includes using the right language and keywords.


You do not have a unique career situation. 

Templates don’t always account for different strategies. 




Reasons to Partner with a Professional Resume Writer


You want to invest in a completely customized career file.

Resume writers work to create unique career files that marry your best content into the best format. 


You have time and funds. 

Most top writers book several weeks out and take several days to write a stand-out executive resume from scratch, which costs top dollar.


You need assistance unearthing related career achievements.

Professional resume writers know what questions to ask to help you identify key metrics and specifics. 


You are not completely clear on your personal brand.

A good writer can identify your career theme in relation to a target job.


You need help powerfully telling your career story.

An experienced resume writer is more than just a typist. They write career stories.


You want to take your resume to the next level.

A strong writer knows how to transform a resume from a basic ‘here’s what I’ve done’ to ‘next-level personal marketing tool that presents you as the clear candidate of choice.’


You have a clear job target in mind!

Again, having a clear job target in mind is an absolute must. General resumes don’t work and top writers don’t write them.


You are not confident in your resume writing skills.

A good resume involves strategy: what content to include and leave off, what keywords to integrate, and what language and terminology to employ. How to write tight, create strong statements, work within space requirements, and utilize design components to guide the reader’s eye.

A resume writer can own the entire process for you, collaborating with you closely to learn who you are, how your skills align to the target role, and building a file that delivers on all levels. 



I’m curious, have you ever used a resume template successfully (gotten an interview)? 

I took this question to LinkedIn and asked it in a poll. Below are the poll results. It was a fairly close race, with 40% of respondents having luck with resume templates and 43% not having any luck.



Comments in the poll ranged just as much as the results:

“I went to Etsy and found a design for 7 bucks. And boom, interview on Wednesday.” – Michael Kurilla

“…there are tons of resume templates on Etsy. A very, very large percentage of them are an absolute usability nightmare, but there are some nice ones!” – Diana Alt

” I have yet to find the perfect template which is also ATS friendly.” – Haneen Ayash

“I’ve been using a template with no success, even for positions for which I am perfectly qualified or overqualified.”  – Josh Talbert

“It’s not the flash on your resume that gets noticed but the value you have on offer and once you workaround that you’ll notice the shift to your job applications.” – Varshaa RT


One of my favourite comments is this one from Bogdan Zlatkov:

I love the above comment because he stresses that a resume template is a good option for resume building, but the file needs great content added to it for it to really work.

If you are interested in reading more responses, check out the post.


Trusted Resume Templates

If you are on the hunt for a trusted template, I strongly recommend the diverse resume templates at Job Search Journey (JSJ).

Top resume writing professionals have put together the resume templates on this site – many with recruiting and hiring backgrounds.

Some of the templates on JSJ come with guides to help you strategize on the content for the provided template design and the resume templates are ATS-friendly, easy to use, and have generated positive feedback from job seekers.

Remember to populate your resume template with good, related content and clear examples of success. Resumes that are generic, general, fluffy, or hard to read = rarely get read.


How Much for Resume Writing?

Many job seekers are not aware of the cost of investing in a professional resume written by a professional resume writer. With the average resume taking 8-12 hours of research and writing time – costs typically run in the high hundreds of dollars into the thousands of dollars. A great resume takes a lot of strategy to create.

Experienced resume writers understand modern resume trends and formats. They also identify why the resume is required, who the target audience is, and they work closely with job seekers to understand their unique offerings, value, and achievements. The writer decides on the best resume strategy and how the resume is prepared.


How Much for Resume Templates?

Resume templates on the other hand are very affordable as these are true DIY, plug-and-play files. Prices for really good resume templates typically run around $10-$25.


Final Resume Templates Tip!

Here’s the thing. If you don’t have a good grasp of the 3 KNOWS, I recommend working through these BEFORE putting ‘pen to paper’, or filling in a resume template.

You need to KNOW yourself, KNOW your audience, and KNOW what matters most to effectively position yourself as the top candidate of choice in a resume. Again, a professional resume writer can help you with these 3 requirements. 

For help with the 3 stages above, check out the workbooks I have for sale in my shop. 

Finally, if you are a manager, director, VP, or C-suite professional who would prefer to partner with a resume expert on the creation of a custom resume – reach out and let’s discuss! 

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ATS Resume Checklist – Career Impressions

Writing your resume can be tricky, at the best of times. 

Here is a quick reference checklist to help support ATS resume success:


Is your resume saved in an approved format (.docx, PDF, txt)? Read application instructions for preferred format type as it may differ across systems.

 Is the resume designed with both audiences in mind: ATS-optimized with human-friendly components and considerations?

✔ Have you included clearly defined sections with common titles: Summary, Work Experience, and Education?

✔ Are images or graphics negatively impacting the formatting or ability for words to be ‘seen’. For example, do not overlay important text over an image; it may not be read.

✔ Have you applied appropriate contrast with colours (yes, you can use colours but ensure the font is easy to read if colours overlap (white text on dark blue is a good example).

✔ Did you remember to keep important contact information out of the headers or footers of the document? You can still place content in these areas, but only for the human reader.

✔ Has the file been thoroughly edited and spellchecked to ensure there are no errors?

✔ Did you use the full, spelled-out version of a term in addition to abbreviations and acronyms [i.e: Certified Public Accountant (CPA)]?

✔ Have you incorporated relevant, targeted keywords and phrases for the type of position being sought (with variations — i.e., “Photoshop” and “image-editing software”)?

✔ Has it been customized for the position being sought? “One-size-fits-all” does not work with applicant tracking systems as a person may be searching the system for related experience.



** Thank you to Career Professionals of Canada and BeaResumeWriter for providing ATS insights and guidelines for this post.

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Does Your Executive Resume Have a Red Flag?


People often ask me to review their resume and note any potential red flags that they should address. Although I’m not able to review the majority of resumes that are sent to me (I simply do not have the capacity!), here are some of the most common red flags that I personally come across (and how to fix them):

Task-Heavy Content

Copying and pasting job descriptions into your resume provides zero value to the reader. Emphasize results instead. Share pertinent content from your career that demonstrates proof of ability in alignment with job requirements.


An Objective Statement

Hiring managers want to know WIIFM “What’s In It For Me”; NOT what your personal end-goal is. Ditch the objective and share a value-based headline/tagline that aligns offerings with needs.


Loooong Length

Extremely long resumes are rarely read in full – or appreciated. Think quality of content versus quantity. Distill details down to what matters most, letting value dictate an appropriate length while keeping content focused and succinct.


When I posted this topic on LinkedIn and asked resume writers and career experts to weigh in with their thoughts on resume red flags, responses centered around several common themes.  Here is the link to the entire thread but I’ve gone ahead and captured a few of the responses below for your reading pleasure:


Lack of Focus at the Start

Kelly Gadzinski (Career Coach/Resume Writer): Lacking a bold headline and opening summary that effectively showcases personal brand in an unique and eye-catching way.

Skye Berry-Burke (Career Coach/Resume Writer): For me the key is in the branding Headline/ Tagline. If I can’t determine what your target or industry is from the start, my motivation to continue reading is challenged.

Jessica Hernandez (Executive Resume Writer): I agree with Skye. I think the branding headline/position title at the top really sets the stage for the entire resume. If this is missing it cripples the entire resume and leaves the potential employer with a big question mark. I’m a big believer in the importance of clarity on a resume and a clear branding headline/position title is critical for that clarity.


Overpopulated Information

Kamara Toffolo (Resume Writer): Bullet Barf. Listing every single detail with a bullet or bullets that are actually paragraphs. Max 2 lines per bullet please.

Virginia Franco (Executive Career Storyteller): Dense text is my biggest beef — when something is too long, too verbose, or doesn’t get to the point — you run the risk that the reader will skip it altogether.

Ana Lokotkova (Career Search Advisor): If it’s a bullet, it means it needs to be short and sweet and not a 5-line long paragraph.


Deficient Customization

Omar Osmani (Recruiter): Lack of customization, using the same resume to apply for all positions. Take the time to review and understand the Job Description. Then customize your resume to help show the potential employer how you are a great fit for the role.


Missing Results 

Erin Kennedy (Executive Resume Writer): Not backing up your value with actual accomplishments. Just saying you are a “business development rockstar” isn’t enough. Prove it. What did you actually do to give yourself that title? The reader wants to know!

Jamie Chapman (Career Coach / Recruiter): I second several of the previous comments about backing up your “brag” items with your experience… it’s not congruent to say “I’m awesome at managing budgets” and then never drop a single dollar figure in your resume.

Scott Leishman (Assistant Director Career Services): Resumes should have specific numbers that show the scope of the candidate’s responsibility and achievements that relate to the position they are going after. Dollar signs are much more powerful and precise than percentages.

Tom Adam (Recruiter): People need to list concrete, measurable achievements, whether it’s performance against sales quotas, up-time maintained in complex IT systems, number of new customers obtained, etc. Listing your duties alone isn’t a resume — it’s a job description. Whether you were an accountant, a sales rep, or a software engineer, we know what you did. What we want to know, however, if is you were any good at it.


Weak Attention to Detail

Jeff Lipschultz (Speaker/Trainer/Facilitator): Errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. If you cannot proof your own resume, what kind of attention-to-detail do you possess?

Javier Vinsome (Career & Adversity Advisor/Resume Writer): Repetitive action words. Overuse of “Responsible for…”. Employment with no dates.Sarah Johnston (Job Search Expert): I’ll add font sizes under 10! The reader should not need to squint to read your resume.

Laura Smith-Proulx (Executive Resume Writer): Information shown in bold for no good reason – when it’s detrimental to the candidate. If you’ve job-hopped, don’t put dates in bold or right-justify them. If your positions date back to 1979, don’t put them in bold (and of course, eliminate some of these positions). If your job titles don’t do you justice because you really held a higher-ranking level of authority, don’t put the job title in bold. Quit showcasing data that doesn’t do you any favors. Highlight distinguishing qualifications, keywords, and achievements that you want employers to spot!


Other Considerations

Kerri Twigg (Career Coach/Speaker): When it looks like it came from a resume book. They should look like living documents with heart. You can do this by using words you normally use (and will use at the interview) and not playing it too safe.

Michelle Precourt (Career Coach/ Recruiter): Recruiter bias happens…if we are honest, we are all biased. To mitigate this, create a gmail account with your name. It’s simple but effective. Hotmail accounts could imply an older job seeker and a university email could imply someone inexperienced.


Thank you career experts and resume writers for sharing your insights!

I’ve captured the 6 resume red flags which I feel need the most attention, by all levels of job seekers, in the infographic below:



Looking to take your resume to the next level?  Try these posts:


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How Long Should My Executive Resume Be?

Ideal resume length. Career Impressions. _ (002)

As a professional resume writer, one of the questions clients ask me most often is, “How long should my executive resume be?”

My answer is that ideal resume length is often up for debate. I suggest you aim for quality over quantity. At an executive level, it is challenging to fit all accomplishments on just one page. Stick to 2-3 pages, targeting every detail to the specific job you are applying for.

Sticking to one page is a resume myth that is not feasible at an executive level. While you do not want to detail every task and accomplishment, you’ll need more space to highlight your level of experience and value correctly. Do not sell yourself short by sticking to one page!

Your resume is a marketing document; it should highlight your value proposition and develop your brand, to position you as the perfect fit for the role.

How to Choose Your Ideal Resume Length  

Always keep your audience in mind

Look at every point in the mindset of a potential employer and ask, “What’s in it for me?”. Only include information relevant to the specific job. What are the essential points and critical skills that this potential employer is seeking?


Cut unnecessary information

Lose weak or stand-alone soft skills like team-player, organized, and responsible. Instead, show, rather than tell, with specific details and metrics.

If a point in your resume is not relevant to the target job, update it or replace it.


Be succinct. Write tight

Say what you need to say in as few words as possible. Use strong language and action words that have an impact. Eliminate extra filler words like “the or a”.

Avoid rambling in long-winded, dense paragraphs.


Start strong

Leave out the objective statement that lets readers know you are looking for a challenging position. Instead, grab attention with a knock-out executive summary that pique’s your reader’s interest.

Display your value proposition and personal brand as they align to the target role. If the gets engaged in your writing (they can clearly see the value you would add), they will be more likely to continue down the page and read more!


Write visually

Make sure key content pops off the page. Don’t make readers hunt to identify your best or most notable impacts. Bold select words, use shading, or include design components (boxes or charts) to help showcase your best details.

Leave white space, use clean fonts, and ensure the format is easy to read and scan. If someone has to work really hard to read your resume, they may not read it at all.

You want your resume to be easy to skim and scan because the average recruiter spends 6 seconds on the first read. Make sure you pass the skim test!


 Focus on results

Executive resumes need metrics and numbers as proof of the claims you are making. Give specific results so potential employers can envision you achieving the same wins for them.

Aim to answer how many, how much, and how often in your content.


Questions to Ask When Cutting Info from Your Resume

  1. Are these details relevant to this position?
  2. Is this a current qualification?
  3. Does this piece of info show rather than tell?
  4. Am I stating the obvious? (If you went to college, you graduated from high school).
  5. Am I using unnecessary words or fluff?
  6. Have I made this point more than once?
  7. Is this personal info (hobbies, volunteer work, board memberships) relevant?
  8. Have I added any sections or info just because I felt I should?
  9. Are these skills everyone has listed – detail-oriented, task-focused, progressive leader?
  10. If I was hiring for this position, would this piece of info influence my decision?


Everyone has their own opinion on ideal resume length. But one thing all resume experts seem to agree on is that content is the driving factor.

Potential employers will read a resume as long as the information is engaging and relevant to the position they are seeking to fill (within reason of course).

When crafting your executive resume, keep the question in your mind, “Does this add to the value I will bring to this specific company within this particular role?

For more information on resume length, check on the following posts:

Ask Adrienne: What is an Average Resume Length?

What Resume Length is Best?