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When It Comes To Writing Your Executive Resume, Start With What You Don't Want To Do

Many senior professionals can often have a hard time separating what they can do from what they truly want to do when looking at their next step.

Senior professionals and executives with 20-30 years of experience often have a treasure trove of achievements to bring to a potential employer. These richly experienced people have found themselves in situations ranging from visible and positive to those situations that are unexpected and loathsome. But these individuals typically take it all in stride, like the professionals they were trained to be, and work through these situations most often triumphantly and with dignity.

What often happens, though, is these executives and senior professionals have a massive list of achievements. Some of the achievements came naturally and brought great joy. Others took a lot of learning and hard work, but still brought a great reward of satisfaction. And still some accomplishments were difficult to obtain and often are those they do not want to experience again. However, many people in this position can often have a hard time separating what they can do from what they truly want to do when looking at their next step.

In my experience working with executives for 20-plus years, I’ve found that many people in the over 40 years of age range have been raised with the idea of “if you can do it, you should do it.” And I disagree.

Yes, we get to a certain point in our careers where we have accomplished a lot and we can actually do a wide variety of tasks, both strategically at a high level and operationally tactically. Being adept and agile is how we often rose up the ranks, after all. And it worked well until it didn’t anymore.

Fortunately, we still have a choice on what we get to do next. You don’t have to keep doing what you may be good at but are miserable doing. In fact, if you find yourself burned out after this stream of continuous accomplishments, it could be because you are continuing to do what you don’t enjoy — even if you are good at it.

When some of our executive job-seeking clients are struggling with what achievements should be put in a resume, we will often ask them, “Well, what jobs do you not want to do anymore?” Even if a job used to make you happy, things can change. And the associated tasks might have changed as well.

So, for some clients, instead of focusing on what they want to do — because they know — we start by focusing on what they don’t ever want to do again. This eventually leads us back to the list of activities they do want to do that will make them happy. And that’s where we want to be.

I find starting here, outlining what one doesn’t want to do, is a great place to start a resume. It helps so you don’t end up having a resume that attracts what you really ultimately aren’t interested in.

Do a gut check. Are you getting calls from recruiters for jobs that aren’t inspiring to you? Or for jobs that you are left feeling “meh” about after the recruiter described the opportunity? Is it because you listed everything you ever did on your resume and/or profile and now those achievements reflect what you don’t want to do and therefore are attracting the jobs you really don’t want?

This might be happening to you and you don’t even realize it. If so, I suggest going back and asking yourself, “What jobs do I not want to do anymore?” Answer this question as frankly and unabashedly as you can for yourself. Next, remove these bullets from your resume and then start your editing and adjusting from there.

This is the first step to creating a document that attracts what you can do and what you want. The best part? You will see how exciting it can be to go after your dream job again and to see that it’s still in the cards for you to accomplish! Make 2021 the year you go after a job that brings you joy, challenges you and maybe even leads to a little extra dough.

By Lisa Range l Forbes Councils Member l First published on https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2021/02/04/when-it-comes-to-writing-your-executive-resume-start-with-what-you-dont-want-to-do/?sh=3497c1dc38b5 February 4, 2021