Career Advice

Five Must-Do’s For Executive Career Transition

A frequent situation I encounter is working with senior executives who are looking to make a career transition.

Some people are stepping down from a leadership role; others are planning a switch from a small private firm back into a large corporation; each situation presents special challenges. Changing industries adds further complexity. What’s a smart executive to do?

Highlight your strengths: If you own your own business and want to re-enter the corporate marketplace, it is advisable to highlight strengths that involve collaborating with others. I often use the word principal or partner, rather than owner. Oftentimes hiring managers will question why you want to work in what would be considered a more bureaucratic environment – especially if you have successfully run your own business. Should this come up during the interview, I recommend responding by indicating your desire to contribute in an environment where you can partner with others on larger scale projects or programs. Equally important, reference your previous experiences working in a corporate environment. You can share details of the work. Your enthusiasm and drive will help the hiring manager understand your desire to return to (possibly) a more structured environment.

Take advantage of a hybrid résumé. Hybrid resumes allow senior level executives to point out career achievements from relevant positions in the top portion of the résumé. Leveraging the hybrid format will allow you to quickly reference key accomplishments and make an immediate impact. The top third of the résumé is prime real estate! Use this area to make your point and grab the reader’s attention.

Think like the hiring manager. Remember, she is busy and wants to cut to the chase! Capitalize on the most relevant and successful things you have done in your career. You will not be able to reference everything; your résumé should be like a skirt: long enough to cover the topic, but short enough to keep things interesting! Do not reference information that is irrelevant to the role, or things that were done so long ago that they no longer make an impact. Don’t fill a four-page résumé with every detail of what you have lived and breathed for the past 20-30 years. Limit your content to information that will make a powerful statement to get your foot in the door. You can elaborate during the interview.

Consider Age. If you are a candidate who has had a lengthy career, be mindful of age discrimination. I wish it didn’t exist, but sadly this is not the case. There are some things better left unsaid. It is currently perfectly acceptable to leave college graduation dates off of your résumé, especially if they could detract from your marketability. The same goes for work history. Referencing positions you held in the 70s and 80s is ill advised unless there is some exceptional reason. Less is more – especially where your résumé is concerned.

Know how and when to abbreviate. If you do leave dates off of your résumé and the oldest position listed, references you as a Vice President, you can opt to add a section titled Additional Experience where you would list just the names of the companies and titles held.

Creating a compelling résumé for a candidate in transition is a complex process; each individual has a unique story. Using the basic principles above will help you create a high impact résumé that will generate the results you seek.

Your transition will require you to leverage your résumé, your network, and your ability to communicate your value in a new and compelling way. Capitalizing on your strengths – particularly in the content of your résumé will send the appropriate message to the audience you target.