Applying for and landing a job is not always as easy for executives as one might think.

As an executive, you have a ton of experience.

So when it comes down to highlighting these experiences on your resume, it’s possible to make serious mistakes.

These mistakes can be fatal to your chances of getting an interview, so you must avoid them at all costs.

Here are the eight biggest resume mistakes that executives make: 

  1. Having an objective instead of a resume summary 
  2. Not using targeted keywords
  3. Lack of quantifiable achievements
  4. Not optimizing the correct skills
  5. Including irrelevant information 
  6. Simple formatting mistakes
  7. Compromised readability 
  8. Resume is too long

We’ll address each of these issues and provide you with valuable advice on how to avoid them.


1. Having an Objective Instead of a Resume Summary

One of the biggest resume mistakes to avoid is using objective statements instead of resume summaries. 

Besides being out-of-date and losing popularity in modern resumes, resume objectives may come off as narcissistic, as they’re solely focused on you and your needs.

Employers are more interested in team players and contributors.

So, using objective statements can do you more harm than good.

How to avoid this resume mistake: 

Recruiters are more interested in what you can offer them rather than what personal goals you’re looking to fulfill. 

Ditch the “I want tos” and replace them with highlights of your accomplishments, relevant skills, and experiences.

Let recruiters know what you bring to their table and how you can help them.

Start your summary with a key adjective instead of a personal pronoun. Provide a concise overview of your professional experience while making use of power words that make you sound confident.


2. Not Using Targeted Keywords

Not using resume keywords tailored specifically for the job you are applying for can be disastrous.

Here’s why…

Hiring managers often receive dozens of resumes per day.

That’s why they use ATS software to narrow down the list of applicants by identifying resumes that contain specific keywords that match the job description.

So, if your resume doesn’t target the relevant keywords, it may be ignored.

How to avoid this resume mistake

First of all, you should research the job post to find job-specific keywords.

Include the keywords you find in strategic sections of your resume. 

These sections are your resume headline, summary, skills and experience sections, job titles, and other prominent places.

Also, be mindful about incorporating the keywords. Going overboard could make your sentences clunky and unnatural.

In addition, avoid the use of overly complex words, technical jargon, pie charts, tables, and the like, as they often get left out by the ATS.


Lack of Quantifiable Achievements

One easy way to show that you are the right person for the job is to prove it. 

Simply listing your accomplishments without backing them up with sufficient data and quantitative examples is another common resume mistake executives make.

It is easy to claim that you have boosted sales or saved money; however, not providing evidence to support your claims fails to induce the desired effect in your would-be employer.

How to avoid this resume mistake: 

Talk about your accomplishments with numeric details. 

Make use of numbers, percentages, or statistics to accentuate the impact you made.

Do your research and include results with a timeframe and specific context relevant to the job. Show the exact scope of what you achieved. 

Ensure that you include the most important achievements in your resume summary.

Then add the rest of your quantifiable accomplishments to your experience section.

For instance, instead of saying “I increased sales,” you can say…

Designed an effective system that turned around under-performing company, increasing annual sales by 20%.


4. Not Optimizing the Correct Skills

When working on their resume, one common resume mistake executives often make is to focus solely on their responsibilities rather than the strategic thinking and leadership skills they bring to the table.

As an executive, you should always highlight the high-level skills that are most relevant to the job you are applying for.

You also need to show off your strengths as a leader.

If you do not feature your executive strengths, you stand the risk of being classified as just another regular job-seeker.

How to avoid this resume mistake

Executive resumes demand executive-level skills.

Conduct research on the job position you are applying for and include your skills that are most relevant to it.

Also, be sure to highlight your leadership skills.

Finally, place your key skills in strategic spots on your resume. 

You can include them in your headline, resume summary, skills, and experience sections. 


5. Including Irrelevant Information

As an executive, it’s hard to pick and choose the correct information to include on your resume.

However, your employer does not need to know every detail when you’re applying for a CFO position.

Listing unnecessary information such as personal hobbies, unrelated volunteering experiences, and outdated skills is a common resume mistake.

It also makes your resume unnecessarily long and cluttered with information that mars, rather than boosts, your chances of getting an interview. 

How to avoid this resume mistake: 

In your executive resume, only include skills, experiences, and information that are relevant to the position you’re applying for.

Adding that you’re good at photoshop or singing (or any other irrelevant information) would only take up valuable space.

Instead, seek to fully understand the job you’re aiming for, and review your professionally acquired skills and experiences to handpick the ones most suited for the job.

Also, going over your resume again and again should help you eliminate irrelevant details and fine-tune the relevancy of your resume.


6. Simple Formatting Mistakes

Poor formatting is one of the most common resume mistakes that executives make.

When your resume contains irregular spacing, inappropriate or too many font types, crazy colors, or you fail to optimize your resume for ATS compatibility, it makes you look as unprofessional as your resume.

How to avoid this resume mistake:

The short answer is to practice attention to detail.

You can do this by using professional resume formatting and being consistent in your use of design elements. 

For example, if you have used font size 14 for a section header, all the other headers should have the same size.

Also, when trying to call attention to particular keywords, put them in bold or underline them instead of using a different color.

You should also keep your resume formatting simple so that the applicant tracking software (ATS) can read and process them. 

On this note, avoid using file types like PNG or JPEG, and try to avoid using Microsoft Word’s built-in header and Word Art. Sometimes ATS cannot read or scan them.


7. Compromised Readability

Small margins, cluttered words, inconsistent spacing, fancy fonts, etc. make your resume difficult to read or skim. 

Hiring managers love to skim before they read; your task is to make doing both as easy as possible.  

Lengthy paragraphs or sentences, improper styling, poor design, and a lack of bullet points make your resume an eyesore and render it unattractive to the human eye.

How to avoid this resume mistake: 

Make use of whitespace, bullet lists, paragraphs, and other formatting elements appropriately.

You can also use simple fonts for better readability.

Keeping your paragraphs as concise as possible is another way to boost readability.

Read and reread your resume to ensure that your design is professional and that your sentences flow naturally.

Finally, do not overuse bullet lists or paragraphs. Instead, balance the usage of both.


8. Resume Is Too Long

As an executive, you have tons of skills, experiences, and achievements.

You may make the mistake of including every single one in your resume.

However, highlighting all your skills, experiences, and achievements would simply make your resume way too long.

A lengthy resume prevents the hiring manager from realizing your true value, as your relevant qualifications would be lost in a mass of unnecessary information.

How to avoid this resume mistake: 

The typical executive resume is no longer than two pages. Some, in special circumstances, can be up to three pages.

Anything more may be viewed as bulky and containing unnecessary information.

Try to compress your resume so it does not exceed two pages.

If you’re finding it difficult to do this, then you may have provided too many details.

In such a case, it’d be best for you to remove anything that is not directly related to the job and might be deemed superfluous by the recruiter.


Key Takeaways

Writing a perfect executive resume can be challenging.

Use this guide to avoid these common mistakes on your resume.

If you are still not seeing results after making these changes, there is no substitute for professional executive resume writing assistance.

If you’d like help writing your resume, consider Find My Profession’s executive resume writing services.

We only hire the highest-quality resume writers. Our writers create effective, executive-level resumes that land interviews!