If you ask Google (or now ChatGPT) for the top 10 resume mistakes tech executives make, you’ll get a list something like this:
- Focusing too much on technical skills and not enough on leadership abilities and business acumen.
- Not tailoring the resume to the specific job they are applying for.
- Including irrelevant information or experiences.
- Using jargon or technical language that non-technical recruiters or hiring managers may not understand.
- Failing to highlight achievements and accomplishments, listing only job responsibilities.
- Not using metrics or quantifiable data to demonstrate impact and success.
- Having a resume that is too long or too short, not following standard formatting guidelines.
- Failing to proofread and correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.
- Not including a clear, concise summary or objective statement at the top of the resume.
- Using an outdated or unprofessional email address or contact information.
True enough, these are all mistakes tech executives should avoid making on their resumes.
However, avoiding them only means you have a decent resume. It doesn’t guarantee you’re not making resume mistakes that can cost your epic next job.
Less Obvious (But Critical!) Resume Mistakes to Avoid
This list exposes some of the less obvious (but critical!) mistakes I see tech executives make on their resumes. Any of these could cost your epic next job, so let’s go over each and make sure you know how to avoid them!
1. Assuming things are obvious to the reader or system and not being clear: You assume that certain things are obvious to the reader or the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and, therefore, don’t provide enough clarity in your resume. For example, you may use technical jargon or acronyms that are only familiar to those in your field without explaining what they mean. This can cause recruiters or hiring managers who may not be familiar with those terms to reject your resume in favor of others that are clear.
2. Not targeted to a specific role: A common mistake is not tailoring the resume to the job they are applying for. A title is not a role, so it’s essential to clearly state what you want to do, contribute, and impact. This includes specifying the industry, sector, and size of the organization you want to work for.
3. Not focusing on your IMPACT and VALUE to the business: Tech executives often focus too much on their technical skills and not enough on their impact and value to the business. Value is measured in money (saved, earned), time (productivity, time to market, time to delivery), customer satisfaction (growth, market share, retention), and impact is about what changed as a result of the work you did. Highlight achievements and accomplishments using metrics and quantifiable data to demonstrate your value and impact.
4. No tech stack: A tech stack is a list of technologies, tools, and programming languages that a tech executive is proficient in. Not including a tech stack in their resume can be a mistake, as it can help recruiters and hiring managers quickly understand their technical skills and expertise.
5. Worried about length instead of readability and content: Tech executives often worry about the length of their resume, but it’s more important to focus on readability and content. A resume should be easy to read and understand, with clear headings and bullet points that highlight key skills and experiences.
6. Not understanding how people scan: People scan in an F pattern, skipping over dense sentences and blocks of text. Recruiters and hiring managers often scan resumes quickly, looking for specific keywords and phrases that match the job description. Therefore, it’s essential to format the resume in a way that makes it easy to scan, with clear headings, bullet points, and keywords in bold text. Don’t bury the important points, lead with them!
7. Too focused on keywords: While it’s important to include relevant keywords in the resume, it’s also important not to overdo it. Using too many keywords can make the resume look spammy and can turn off recruiters and hiring managers who are looking for genuine candidates with relevant skills and experiences.
8. Not understanding who is reading your resume: You need to understand that your resume will be read by different people, including ATS systems, junior recruiters who may not know the job, senior recruiters or HR who may not understand today’s technology, and hiring managers who may have a deep understanding of the role and technology. Your resume must be accessible to all readers with clear and concise language that anyone can easily understand so everyone can get the information they need. This is the most challenging part…creating one document that meets each reader’s needs at each step in the hiring process.
As a tech executive, it’s vital to recognize the potential pitfalls in crafting your resume. Any of these mistakes could cost you your next career opportunity. Navigating the intricacies of finding your epic next job can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone.
As an executive career coach, I can help you create an effective resume that accurately reflects your values, skills, and personality. Together, we’ll establish you as an authority in your field and find and position you as the best candidate for your epic next job.