cover letters

Top 5 mistakes on executive resumes

June 3, 2011: 10:30 AM ET

If you haven't updated your resume in a while, you may be surprised by some of the changes in what recruiters and employers want to see.

By Anne Fisher, contributor

FORTUNE -- Dear Annie: So far in my 27-year career, I've always gotten new jobs either through promotions or through headhunters who were already so familiar with my track record that they didn't ask me for a formal resume. Now, however, I'm job hunting and trying to write a resume, and I'm confused about a few things.

First, in my current position (where I sometimes hire junior managers), I see resumes that start with an "objective statement" at the top, briefly noting what kind of position the person is seeking, but these are mostly hot air. Should I include one on my resume anyway? Second, do I need to squeeze my experience of nearly three decades onto one page? And third, is a cover letter always necessary, or can I let the resume speak for itself? — Winging It

Dear Winging It: It's no wonder you're a bit mystified, since there really is no one-size-fits-all formula for constructing a winning resume. Moreover, fads and fashions come and go.

Those "objective statements" you've seen, for instance, were recommended for years by professional resume writers and coaches -- until recruiters and hiring managers began to deride them as mostly fluff. You'd do far better now to start off your resume with a succinct "executive summary." More about that in a minute.

As for your question about cover letters, these documents seem to have lost a lot of ground in the current economy, due to the simple fact that no one has time to read them. Indeed, your resume itself may get no more than a cursory glance. More

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