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The five biggest resume mistakes that financial executives make

The lists of Do’s and Don’ts for writing your executive resume, whether you are a chief financial officer, senior portfolio analyst, or a credit risk executive are well published. You have seen many lists that tell you the obvious points not to do in your executive resume: no spelling mistakes, no grammar errors, no abbreviations, no color paper and not too lengthy to name just a few. As a former recruiter and hiring manager, I outline these five additional ways you can ensure that your executive resume will end up in the trash:

1. Include the phrase “…. with over 25 years of experience…” in the beginning of your resume: When I read this statement, I picture a pigeon-chested, over-inflated executive resting on their laurels and looking backwards. Companies want to hire leaders, soaring eagles, that are looking forward, view their most recent accomplishments as a mere memory and are hot to move on to the next huge accomplishment. Don’t be the pigeon.

2. Call yourself a “seasoned executive”: I only like my French fries seasoned. Enough said here. Don’t do it.

3.Use an old resume format that reminds me of an over-padded suit jacket worn by Miami Vice’s Don Johnson or 90210’s Dylan McKay: aka using a dated format for your resume. You know the resume format you had when you graduated college in 1988 or 1998 that you keep adding on your most recent experience to? It is time to retire that format and utilize a contemporary format. Would you hire a financial planner today that still wore a skinny tie and his suit jacket collar up a-la-1980s? No, you wouldn’t. Does an applicant sporting Dylan’s hairstyle scream the “right choice” to you? No, it does not. Well, your resume will be thrown in the trash if it looks like it is not from this era. Include action driven achievements in your resume in a concise writing style.

4. Fail to include your email address: In today’s job marketplace, I dare to say that your email address is more important to have your resume than your home address. By excluding your email address, you might as well be screaming to the recruiter, “I just don’t get it.” You will get passed over.

5. Place an objective at the top of your resume: Resume objectives are the kiss of death. They speak of what you want and need. Frankly, most hiring managers really do not care of what you want and need—they want to know how your skills and experience add value and fix issues within their organization. If you are not employer-focused in your resume, your resume will be ignored.

Financial professionals that avoid these five errors will see their resume float to the top of the ‘yes, call this person’ pile and generate more interviews.

About the Author:

Lisa Rangel, the Managing Director of Chameleon Resumes, is,a former search firm recruiter, certified professional resume writer and holder of six additional job search certifications. She has been featured on, Investors Business Daily,, BBC,, LinkedIn, Monster, US News & World Report, Fox Business News and Good Morning America. She has authored six niche resume and job search ebooks, including 99 Free Job Search Tips from An Executive Recruiter.

AUTHORLisa Rangel Insider Comment
  • To
    Total Experience
    24 January 2014

    The point on experience seems a little difficult to digest.

    I have been forced to change 4 jobs (2 companies quit country) in the last 3 years. If I don't mention my total experience, I would be forcing the reader to calculate my experience across 5 organizations for a total of 7 years work experience.

    How to sort this out?

  • Pa
    23 January 2014

    The bottom line will always be that resumes are becoming useless in today's world. It's all about who you know and networking. I got a letter in the mail, thanking me for my interest in a job but after having lunch with a friend, I realized they know the ACTUAL hiring manager, NOT the HR person who got to be the most useless set of people on planet earth! I had coffee with the hiring manager and ended up having an offer and politely declined after their culture and my vision did not match.

  • CI
    23 January 2014

    I'm currently an Executive Search Consultant servicing the Financial Sector, and although I can agree with the last two points the first three need some work.

    1 & 2) Using someone's number of years as a selling point, or employing words like "seasoned" as a qualifier are perfectly acceptable so long as these are relative to the needs of the position. Obviously if the ideal candidate is going to have a minimum of two years of experience, someone with a distinguished background is not going to be a fit. If you need someone for a complicated project and don't want to hold their hand then "seasoned" might not be a bad thing.

    3) Resumes consisting primarily of "action driven achievement" bullet points are all the rage. The problem with this is that unless you take the time to describe your basic job function in that particular role the bullets won't have any context. Basic rules for resume format: keep it clean, concise, uncluttered, and make sure the information is laid out in a manner that it can be absorbed in about ten seconds... because that's all a hiring manager is going to give it.

    A good recruiter will never "throw out" your resume, but will do their best to keep you on file in case something relevant comes along.

  • Fr
    From the '80s
    23 January 2014

    Please share a link to a contemporary financial resume. I assumed the dated version was what was expected in the financial world and anything else would be less conservative.

  • ny
    23 January 2014

    Makes sense.......Forget his knowledge of what he does for a living, and worry about the color of his resume, or if their resume looks dated. The main problem here, is the recruiters are making the choice of who to send on the interview. They have no clue.......

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