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Monday, May 21, 2007
What DOES NOT Go on an Executive Resume
I recently read an article by an “expert” in resume writing that touted inclusion of hobbies on an executive resume. The author suggested including hobbies that are related in some way, however vaguely, to the executive’s career. I’m sorry, but this is WRONG advice.

Hobbies do not appear on an executive resume. While inclusion of related hobbies might be relevant to a new graduate’s objective of landing an interview, they simply waste space on an executive resume. An executive candidate has much more important information--information that might actually contribute to winning the interview--to include in the resume without wasting space including information about coaching youth baseball or fly fishing.

Another issue that I’ve seen touted as a “must” on executive resumes is including the dates of education. Again, that may not be advisable for some executives. Age discrimination, while not rampant, is alive and well. If an executive graduated with a four-year degree in 1968, what benefit does listing that date on the resume bring to the goal of winning an interview? None. The only possibility is that it will contribute to the candidate being eliminated. Try to never include any information on a resume that has only negative potential.

Some writers, and I’ve seen this on many resume templates used by the big boards, have a Career Achievements section or similar at the top. The separation of this information from the individual jobs in which they were accomplished takes what would otherwise be terrific information totally out of context for the reader. Because of being pulled out of context, the wording loses impact. Let me give you an example. Here’s a typical achievement that someone might pull out to include in a Career Achievements section:

- Won largest account ever in company history, increasing market share by 15%

That sounds impressive and would be justified in being included in a Career Achievements section. Its meaning is in the connotation. If the person worked for IBM, that would be huge! If the person worked for Joe’s Tire Shack, it would have a different connotation. The numbers would be significantly different for these two situations. The connotation would have more power when linked with the appropriate position rather than pulled out separately.

References never appear on any resume, especially executive resumes. The old “References upon request” tag line is no longer used either. Ditto for objectives. These are old resume tactics that have passed from use and are not longer part of an up-to-date job search.

Pictures or images don’t belong on an executive resume. I am continually amazed when people include their pictures on their resumes. This is something that has not been done on a resume in thirty years – not since discrimination in hiring lawsuits has gained traction. Pictures can cause the resume to be eliminated immediately so don’t even go there.

You are an executive. You have spent years and countless amounts of investment in building your career. Why consider making a misstep on advice that does not apply to someone at your level?

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