How do you describe your qualifications for a position at the VP, CCO level when what matters are the intangibles? (#6 in the Series)

Judith Cushman All Posts by Date, Effective Resumes 0 Comments

judith cushman associates career development recruiting resumesAnswer:  You can list all your skills but every candidate can do the same. If you over-emphasize the tactics at the start of the resume, you will not get past the first round.

The qualifications for the head of a function are about leadership, adding value to company officers and their direct reports. It is also about original problem solving, winning consensus for solutions and getting the work done. Building a team of excellent performers and having a visceral, instinctive sense about the culture of the organization that can be communicated to employees and stakeholders are essential capabilities but not often stated.  Here is #6 in the series about current trends that affect how you craft your resume along with the common mistakes to avoid.

One of the most frequent errors I see is describing tactical experience since the job description lists a series of tactical requirements. A job-seeking VP, Communications relies too heavily on the job description as an accurate portrayal of the opportunity. Meanwhile, corporate thinking about writing a job description is that it should nail down the details of the position so there can be no confusion about what the company is seeking. There is a sense from the HR side that the more clarity that you can bring to a description, the less risk there is when making a hire and the company will also avoid being sued for misrepresenting the role.

What happens is a job description then becomes a list of tactics after the opening statement which usually makes some remark about the “strategic role.”   The truth of the matter is the job description is written by tactical thinkers. I’ve seen candidates check off the list of qualifications and feel completely confident that they should be finalists for a role. I remind them that every other candidate is doing the same thing and all this is – is a base line that all qualified candidates will meet.

It does no good to say in the resume that you were in a leadership role. It does have an impact if you can give an example where senior officers relied on you to create a plan of action to meet their objectives and you succeeded. If there were community issues and you developed an integrated approach, becoming a “good neighbor” where senior officers participated, that would be an example of a strategic contribution.

Aligning communications programs to meet corporate strategy where you explained how your solution was successful, brings home the point that you proactively contributed to outcomes. Explaining the scope of the solution, and the impact on the organization tells the reader that you can contribute at a scale that allows him/her to realize you “fit” the scale and scope of their organization.

The point is, all the credentials you have don’t tell the hiring organization that you can do the job they are filling. Once they are convinced you are qualified, those credentials confirm their decision. What convinces them that you are qualified in the first place is telling them in a very practical way that you have been on the firing line, been tested and succeeded. Tell those stories in a resume after giving a great deal of thought to what your most powerful examples are, and your resume will stand out for all the right reasons.

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