Leadership

Even CEOs struggle with resume writing—but this one simple question can help

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Crafting the perfect resume is a daunting task even for CEOs and C-suite execs. Like many applicants, they also struggle with aptly describing their prior work experience and explaining what they bring to a new employer, says executive resume writer Laura Smith-Proulx.

Getting this description right can be critical. Employers need to understand what you'll bring to an organization and how you compare to other applicants.

An effective way to tackle this section of the resume, says Smith-Proulx, is by answering this simple question: "What's my legacy?"

Posing this question as you re-read every bullet point and resume blurb can help you focus on the mark you have made at each company — and know if your description tells that story.

Perhaps, you were great at building consensus, spotting new market opportunities or leading a team. Whatever the case may be, your resume should explicitly state how you effected change and the reader should understand how your workplace changed with you in it. Be descriptive. Use numbers. "Really show those achievements through metrics," says Smith-Proulx.

To highlight your past results, try this three-step formula that's recommended by Google recruiters: "Accomplished X, as measured by Y, by doing Z."

For example, if you have a technical job, don't just list the tools or platforms you worked on. Explain the ways you made things better, saying things like: "I improved server query response time by 15 percent by restructuring our API."

You can also describe the situation before you took ownership of a project, to really drive home your impact. For instance, you might say "Launched our company's Instagram presence, growing followers from 1 to 300,000 in just one year."

If you're applying to a new job while a project is still in motion, Smith-Proulx advises mentioning the expected result.

"It could be as simple as, 'if we pursue these projected markets, we [forecast] this revenue,'" she explains. "Show that you're putting things in place that will have actionable results when executed."

Finally, although popular convention is to list work experience in reverse chronological order, Smith-Proulx warns her execs not to follow this format. Instead, "start with the coolest most impactful jobs," she says. "Don't bury the good."

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