Recruiters Say Executives Should Keep Resumes Short

October 23, 2003 ( - Executives striking out for their next career opportunity should be mindful of a resume that is not only free of mistakes, but also correct in length.

Executives looking to get their foot in the door for that all important face-to-face would be wise to keep their resume to two or three pages, the appropriate length for an executive-level summary. However, even though 20 years of spit and elbow grease may not fit on a single page, this does not mean executive resumes should read like an autobiography, according to the latest release of Korn/Ferry’s Executive Recruiter Index.

“W e get plenty of resumes with six, seven and even eight pages of rambling, which raises a huge red flag,” says Charles Wardell, Managing Director of Korn/Ferry’s Northeast Region.

Being too wordy is definitely an executive vita no-no, and comes in as the number one mistake candidates make on their resumes, according to 28% of the 300 Korn/Ferry consultants polled. Other gaffes include taking credit for something that was a team effort (25%), gaps in job experience (20%), a resume that is too short (18%) and typos (9%).

Assuming the vita passes the hiring manager’s muster, candidates will be expected to provide character traits not identified on the resume. None is more important than cultural fit/personality type (69%), followed by character and integrity (22%) and the reason for the transitions made throughout the executive’s career (9%), when looking beyond the resume figures and at the candidate.

The story does not end there though.After the pleasantries are exchanged, the resume is reviewed and the offer is being made, the deal may not match the expectations. More than half (51%) of the Korn/Ferry consultants said when companies are negotiating with a finalist candidate, the compensation package is usually the biggest culprit when it comes to breaking the deal. This was followed relocation issues for the spouse or partner (39%) and reporting relationship/scope of duties concerns (10%).