How to Improve Your Response Rate

In this highly competitive market, it’s critical that your resume and cover letter be specifically geared toward a specific opportunity. One size does not fit all! Customized marketing documents are crucial for senior-level executives.

Following are several areas that will need to be customized:

Function – It’s critical to target your resume to the functional role you’re pursuing. Recruiters are looking for a specific candidate. Portraying yourself too broadly sends a message that you are desperate. While broad and diverse functional experience across all phases of the business can be an asset, it is important to target your resume for the opportunity you are currently pursuing.

  • If you are pursuing multiple job titles (for example, COO, CFO, CIO, and/or general manager), you need more than one version of your resume. In this competitive environment, you need one resume for each function unless the position description specifically requires a combination of two functions (for example, CFO/COO). While you shouldn’t eliminate all the information about the other functional areas, you should emphasize one function more prevalently than the others.
  • If you have extensive experience in just one function, focus on the depth and breadth of your experience. Within your profile, position yourself as an expert in your function.

Industry – Executive search consultants and corporate recruiters look for candidates with industry experience. Within your profile, list your industry experience as it relates to a particular opportunity.

  • If you are changing industries, research each industry in which you have an interest and create a resume for each industry. Familiarize yourself with their lexicon of buzzwords, lingo, expressions and terminology, as well as their unique concerns, challenges and trends. Explore the industry’s trade associations, publications and conferences. Note the topics being addressed as these will be related to the challenges and concerns the industry is facing as well as the trends and direction in which the industry is headed. Translate your experience and qualifications to fit the target industry.
  • If you have industry experience, focus on depth and breadth of your experience.

Size of company – Executive search consultants and recruiters search for candidates who have worked in a company whose size compares to the size of the company they are representing. Make sure your resume includes the company size.

  • If you have worked in corporations that are significantly larger than the target corporation, consider omitting the size of the entire company and focus on the size of a division or business unit that would be more relevant to the size of the target corporation.
  • If you have worked in companies that are considerably smaller than the target company, perhaps you could focus on the size of the larger parent company, if applicable. If that’s not an option, you may want to focus more on their industry ranking, competitive intelligence, ground-breaking efforts, or other areas that may be appealing to the target company.

Profit & Loss or Budget Size – Recruiters look for candidates who have held financial responsibility similar to that of the position they are filling. If you have not defined the size of the profit and loss responsibility you have held or the size of the budget you have managed, consider adding that information.

  • If you have managed P&Ls and budgets much larger than the recruiter’s company, consider leaving out the size of the financials for the entire company and instead focus on the financial figures of a division, business unit, group or project in which you were involved.
  • If you have managed P&Ls and budgets smaller than the recruiter’s company, consider focusing on how the P&L and budget has grown during your tenure to demonstrate that you manage growth or consider focusing on your participation in the parent company’s budget, if applicable.

Staff Size – Recruiters look for candidates who have led and managed teams similar in size to the company they are representing.

  • If you have led and managed teams much larger than the company is requiring, you may want to mention your number of direct reports versus the total size of the team.
  • If you have not managed teams of a similar size, you could include the number of people impacted by your role or the number of people you influence despite the fact that they don’t directly report to you.

Local, National, International Experience – Recruiters scan your resume to see if you have worked at companies with a similar geographic focus.

  • If the recruiter is representing a regional or national company, you should tweak your resume to reflect the same type of geographical territory.
  • If your resume focuses heavily on international experience, you may want to tone down the international experience by eliminating a few references to other countries.

Other comparisons recruiters consider include the company’s customer classification, industry ranking, company culture, products and services.

The goal is to create a resume that aligns with as many of the company’s requirements as you can. In some instances you may need to tone down the resume so you don’t appear over qualified and in other instances you may need to up-scale your resume to match the requirements.

While this is a great deal of work, you will eventually develop a portfolio of targeted resumes that you can use repeatedly for similar types of positions.

The bottom line: It will increase your response rate.

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Beverly Harvey, an executive career coach and job search strategist for senior-level and C-level executives, is passionate about identifying her clients’ unique talents, crystallizing their brand, articulating their value proposition, and creating dynamic marketing materials and job search strategies to achieve a successful landing.

Beverly is the author of the book “Landing An Executive Position” and has contributed to 23 career books.

In business since 1991 … and on the web since 1998, Beverly has worked with executives from global Fortune 500 corporations, small- and medium-size enterprises, privately held companies, family owned businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations.

Certifications include:

* Credentialed Career Manager
* Certified Career Management Coach
* Certified Job & Career Transition Coach
* Reach Certified Personal Branding Strategist
* Reach Certified Social Branding Analyst
* Certified 360Reach Analyst
* Certified Executive & Leadership Development Coach
* Certified Job Search Strategist
* Certified Social Media Career Strategist
* Certified On-line Identity Manager
* Master Resume Writer
* Certified Professional Resume Writer

Beverly completed Coach training through The Academies and the Career Planning and Adult Development Network. She studied personal branding under the international personal branding guru, William Arruda.

Beverly is the Director of Job Search Academy and Instructor for the Certified Job Search Strategist training program for career coaches.

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