Resume Quick Tip: Senior Candidates, Write Your Resumes For Laypeople

February 6, 2018



At Argentus, we have the privilege of working on job searches for some of the heaviest hitters in Canada’s Supply Chain industry. (And if you’re a heavy hitter looking for a new opportunity who hasn’t worked with us, give us a shout!) We work with everyone from Procurement directors with public sector experience, to former VPs of Supply Chain at major manufacturers, to Operations and Logistics executives, and everyone in between.

This means that we present candidates for roles our clients need filled. Sometimes – if the candidate is senior enough, with enough of a track record of significant accomplishments— it means marketing them to a company, even if that company hasn’t worked with us before. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In every case, part of the work we do with these candidates is to help them buff up their resumes to maximize their chances of success for the job search.

It’s often true – especially in professions like Supply Chain Management and Procurement – that people spend more time being good at their jobs than branding themselves. If someone has been in a job for, say, 5 years, it’s common for them turn around at the beginning of a job search and find out that resume trends have completely reversed their polarity since the last time they were looking for a job. That’s where we step in, with personal branding and resume writing advice to help those who are back on the hunt – or suspect that they might be soon.

To that end, here’s a quick tip that occurred to us after a few recent resumes came in from executives:

If you’re a senior-level candidate, don’t assume that executives will be reading your resume when you apply for a role.

You should assume that your resume will be first read by junior HR employees and / or functionaries when you apply for a job – that is, if it isn’t read by a robot. What does this mean? Every so often, executive resumes come in that assume a high level of specific subject-matter expertise on the part of the reader.

An unfortunate fact of hiring is that the first resume read will often be done by a junior HR person, even if you’re applying for a high-level job. So if you fail to write about your experience in language that person will be able to understand, you jeopardize your chances of getting to the round where you can talk shop in a detailed way with subject matter experts.

When people get to senior leadership positions, they’ll have a wealth of varied cross-functional experience. They’ll have transferrable skills. But sometimes executives make the mistake of assuming that a junior HR person is going to understand and recognize those transferrable skills – when really, that person’s mandate is to look for certain keywords, and to avoid the risk of advancing a candidate who doesn’t have the required skills “on paper” even if that candidate has done the exact same job, but with a different job description.

In short: some SCM and Procurement professionals get to a point in their careers where they can truly do it all. But don’t assume that someone reading your resume at a company is going to pick up on that, even if you have done it all. So talk about how your experience fits for the current role. Rephrase and redefine your expertise to fit the language of the job posting. Be flexible, and try to write so that even a layperson – and not just a fellow SCM executive – can understand what you do.

We’re not suggesting that executives should “dumb down” their resumes. By all means, a resume should be specific. Quantifiable data and even technical jargon are both fair game. But you should avoid giving any HR or Hiring manager a chance to dismiss your resume before you get a chance to explain the breadth of your experience.  

Caveat: here’s where we toot the horn of specialized recruiters (you knew it was coming somewhere). When you submit to online job postings, you’re more likely to face the gatekeepers who don’t necessarily understand the complexity of the role they’re hiring for – or, if you’re unlucky, a faceless algorithm that might discard your resume because it can’t read an attachment. But recruiters tend to have the ear of hiring managers farther up the organizational chain, and recruiters who are specialized in your industry can argue for the value of your transferrable skills in a way that a resume just can’t. So there’s that. But if you’re writing or rewriting a resume, the above principles are good to keep in mind no matter how you go about applying for a job. 



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