Why A Lot Of Executive Resumes Get an “F”

Executive Resumes










ONE OF THE MOST COMMON MISTAKES that successful managers make in their job applications is their inability to tailor their resumes according to the hiring manager’s needs. VPs, directors, and C-suite executives expect that their advanced degrees and former job titles and responsibilities will do the job of convincing the employer that they are right for the job.

But how do you set yourself apart from dozens of other applicants, all with similar credentials, qualifications and career records? Senior job applicants expect the employer to extrapolate from their resume, the specific skills and qualifications that are necessary for the job role. But HR personnel aren’t always able to see how your work and education background translates into specific job skills that are critical to the job role.

An astute job applicant will expressly list out her skills and core competencies that the employer is looking for. Let’s say you have a job description for a senior operations director and one of the major requirements is for someone who is adept at dealing with dozens of team members, across different departments (and countries), including members of the public and government, and other stakeholders.

A job searcher who is sensitive to the needs of the hiring manager will state at the top of her resume, usually under the heading of “Summary of Skills” or “Core Competencies”, the following skills writ large:

Strong Team Collaborator: Excels in collaborating with team members on a cross-functional basis; proven track record in creating strong team engagement for large-scale infrastructure projects and operations; motivates team members to meet or exceed their operational targets.

Stakeholder Engagement: Proficient in creating strong relations with community and government leaders, and other stakeholders. Meets with, and resolves, concerns raised by stakeholders, and solicits input from team members, management, and stakeholders in advancing operational goals.   

If you know that team collaboration and stakeholder relations are key requirements for a position, why not just state, in an explicit manner, that you possess those competencies in spades? It is not unlike an ad that you see, where the product features describe a product that “cleans twice as fast”, “is safe for the environment”, and “costs less than the average cleaner”. There is a reason why most ads set out product features in enticing language: they’re persuasive and they generally do the job of selling the product.

So instead of having the hiring manager guess whether you have the necessary skill set for the job, be explicit in spelling it out. You’ll make it easier for the HR person screening the resumes and you’ll stand out from the competition in the process.

How to Write a Persuasive Cover Letter: Four Pointers

How to write a persuasive cover letterWriting a good cover letter doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Nor does it have to be a lengthy treatise cataloguing what you did in your former jobs (that’s what your resume is for). The cover letter is meant to be a brief note to the reader – preliminary remarks, if you will – before the reader starts going through your resume. Think of it as something similar to the Foreword section in a novel.

I always tell my clients that your cover letter shouldn’t simply re-hash what has already been said in your resume. Instead, use the cover letter as an opportunity to talk about something that hasn’t been properly addressed by your resume, or was not stated at all. This could include talking about any or all of the following:

1.  What are your proudest career achievements?

a.  This could be about a job promotion, or a series of promotions, and what you did to earn them.

b.  How you completed a project with minimal resources, or within an impossible dead line. How did you manage to do this? What were the results of the project? What did you learn from the experience?

c.  How you stepped into a new job role with minimal supervision. How did you manage? What did you learn?

2.  Why should the employer hire you, from a list of similarly-qualified candidates?

Here’s your chance to write your very own “sales brochure” by focusing on the following points:

a.  What do you do better than most other people in your line of work?

b.  What approach would you take to alleviate your employer’s biggest problems?

c.  How would you help your employer meet its objectives?

d.  What set of skills or qualifications makes you most suitable for this position?


The cover letter is meant to be a brief note to the reader – preliminary remarks, if you will – before the reader starts going through your resume.


3.  Is there something in your resume that deserves to be emphasized, or requires an explanation?

This might include the following:

a.  Perhaps there are courses or studies that you’ve taken which apply directly to the advertised role.

b.  You might want to mention how you completed a degree in less time than normal.

c.  You can draw attention to a particular job position that you previously held, and how the experience will help you in this role.

d.  Discuss how you were given more job responsibilities outside of your official duties, or filled in for someone in your department, while your employer was trying to hire additional head   count for an understaffed department.

e.  If you’ve spent only one year or less at a job, perhaps there are extenuating circumstances – e.g. your department was downsized; your spouse was relocated and you followed her; you were headhunted to a higher position at another company.

4.  Do you share a special or unique connection with the employer?

a.  Perhaps you know someone who has worked at the company for a while, and has said good things about the employer.

b.  The employer is a non-profit organization that advocates a certain cause, which you personally support, or have supported in some form.

c.  You’ve had prior dealings with the company (as a customer, supplier, affiliate, etc.), and your experience has been positive.

Keep your cover letter concise and to-the-point. There is no fixed word limit, but try to keep your cover letter down to a page. Watch your grammar, spell-check the document, and proofread twice. The employer is trying to get a sense of who you are as a person, and the only thing that she can go on is your cover letter and resume. So put your best foot forward by submitting a sincere, well-written cover letter.

What do you say when your job interviewer asks, “What is your expected salary?”

what is your expected salary?

Most job interviews end when the hiring manager takes one last look at your resume and asks, “What is your expected salary?”

Some people get uncomfortable around the discussion of money, but during the job interview process, you’ll need to get accustomed to talking about salary numbers.

My suggestion to my resume clients is to initially state that you’re willing to consider the industry rate for the role that’s being filled. Obviously, there is a salary range that corresponds to every job role, with a minimum salary figure at one end, and a maximum at the other. Your objective is to obtain the maximum.

The job interviewer’s objective is to screen out applicants whose salary expectation goes beyond their budget. He may then push you to provide some kind of figure. At this point, there are four possible ways to answer the question, depending on your circumstances:

1.   You are applying for a more senior role within your field.

You may tell the interviewer that you currently make $X in your current role, but are looking to move up to a role with greater responsibilities. Thus, you are looking for an increase in salary with this new role.

2.  You are applying for a similar position within your field, and you believe you are currently being underpaid.

You may tell the hiring manager that you currently make $X but believe the going rate for someone with your experience and qualifications is higher. Of course, you will need to do some salary research.

Your peers who work at other companies might be able to give you some useful salary stats. Headhunters who recruit in your field might be able to send you some salary charts. Colleges that train people in your sector will also be able to give you information on wages.


“Some people get uncomfortable around the discussion of money, but during the job interview process, you’ll need to get accustomed to talking about salary numbers.”


3.  You are applying for a similar position within your field, but would like a better compensation package.

You can tell the recruitment manager that you make $X, and are interested in moving because his company sounds like an exciting place to work. You can add that – and this is the critical part –  if the pay and benefits are better, you would consider moving over. This is a reasonable thing to say, and you won’t be the first person to switch jobs just because the money is better at another company.

4. You are currently out of work, and wish to obtain a similar job that you held before you left the workforce.

In this scenario, you might tell your interviewer that you used to earn $X and would be happy to earn a similar level of salary. Generally speaking, employers consider out-of-work applicants to be in a weaker bargaining position, so your chances of asking for higher pay will not be good. But if you were previously underpaid, you can inform the interviewer of this fact, and let them know that your research indicates the current salary level for this position is much higher.


At the end of the day, you want to be paid at a level that both your employer and you will be happy with. If you’ve done your salary research, and feel that asking for 10 – 20 percent above what you’re currently making is still within market range, then request for that increase. You can assume that the employer has already done its research and knows exactly what is the salary range of your position.

Remember that this is just the beginning of the interview process. There will be other things to discuss besides money: your actual job responsibilities, who you will report to, how much travel is expected, how much weekend and overtime work are expected, etc. Take your time to consider the employer’s offer carefully, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarifications.

Most important of all, trust your instincts, and if the new offer just doesn’t match up to what you currently have, don’t be afraid to stay put where you are.

Expert Resumes from a Professional Resume Writer

Don’t take a chance with a mediocre resume when applying to your dream job. In today’s competitive job market, you need to make sure that your resume showcases your greatest accomplishments and presents your education, qualifications and work experiences in the most positive way. Call this Vancouver resume writer to find out how you can get a professional resume and cover letter written up, elevating your chances of winning a job interview.

2015 CKNW Orphans’ Fund Pledge Drive a Success!

This year, I got to participate in the CKNW Orphans’ Fund Pledge Drive held at the Terminal City Club in downtown Vancouver. As a member of the Rotary Club of Vancouver, I was happy to volunteer to answer calls from donors making their pledges. The Rotary Club of Vancouver has long been a supporter of the CKNW Orphans’ Fund.

Back row: Gerry Glazier, Marlene Glazier, Rene Georges Abi-Rached, Milton Kiang Front Row: Myron Kuzych, Barbara Welsh, Bill Schulz

Back Row (from left): Gerry Glazier, Marlene Glazier, Rene Georges Abi-Rached, Milton Kiang
Front Row: Myron Kuzych, Barbara Welsh, Bill Schulz

This is the first time for me to answer phones in a pledge drive. I have seen on TV countless times telethon volunteers taking calls from outside donors, and always wondered what that must be like. When I was a kid, I thought the volunteers were just actors pretending to answer phones. But I was wrong.

The room was pretty noisy, and there was a lot of excitement among the volunteers, organizers, and staff. A choir outside the room sang Christmas carols, and inside the room, a stage was set up with a broadcaster’s table. A CKNW radio announcer broadcasted the activities live, and during one segment, interviewed Rotary Club President Terry Gunderson and Past-President & Rotary District 5040 Director Don Evans.

Interviewees: Left - Don Evans, Terry Gunderson

Interviewees: Left – Don Evans, Terry Gunderson

I was impressed by the generosity of the donors. By the end of the drive, $2M was raised for children with special needs. I took calls from people who donated sums ranging from $25 to $250. Those who donated a hundred dollars and over were entitled to a Sarah McLachlan Christmas CD.

Left: Marlene Glazier, Gerry Glazier, Milton Kiang

Left: Marlene Glazier, Gerry Glazier, Milton Kiang

Back at UBC after 25 Years!

I felt honoured to attend the UBC Fall 2015 graduation ceremony last Thursday Nov 26th as an Alumni Representative. The ceremony was held at the Chan Centre at 12.30pm. The weather was perfect with clear blue skies, and I saw dozens of proud and happy parents, grandparents, and siblings swarming around the new graduates. Their happiness rubbed off on you, and you couldn’t help but feel joyful yourself. I found myself wearing a happy grin by the end of the ceremony.

UBC Chancellor Lindsay Gordon at the Podium

UBC Chancellor Lindsay Gordon at the Podium

As a sat on the podium, I was inspired by the speeches given by Chancellor Lindsay Gordon and Acting President Martha Piper. In particular, I was moved by a talk given by Graduating Class Member,Tim Krupa, who said that no matter what station in life we attain, no matter how much material wealth we gain, the thing that truly matters is our relationships – our relationships with friends, family, and love ones. How true. We are social beings, first and foremost.

Inset, Milton Kiang

Inset, Milton Kiang, B.A. (’89) LL.B. (’93)

I never got to attend my own UBC graduation ceremony back in 1989. I feel that attending this session sort of makes up for it. I’d like to thank Christine Lee, Associate Director at UBC Development & Alumni Engagement, for extending this rare invitation to me. Also in attendance as a fellow Alumni Representative was Beatrice Gill, B.A.  Beatrice and I both serve as mentors in the UBC Faculty of Arts Tri-Mentoring Program.

UBC Alumni Reps Beatrice Gill, B.A. & Milton Kiang, B.A., LL.B.

UBC Alumni Reps Beatrice Gill, B.A. (Left) & Milton Kiang, B.A., LL.B.

Press Release: Read Here


Video of JET Program Career Night held Nov. 19th, 2015

On Nov, 19th, 2015, I gave a short talk on resume writing to participants of the 2014-15 Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program as part of JETAABC Career Night. In this presentation, I shared with the audience one of the best ways to get an employer to take immediate notice of your resume. I tell the audience that it’s important to list out, right at the top of their resume, three or four of the most important skill sets or qualifications that a prospective employer is looking for.

In advertising, they call it your best “selling features”. (Of course, I’m not saying you’re simply a product or commodity, but that’s not how an employer sees it. But that’s a philosophical discussion for another day!)

Doing it this way saves the employer time – he or she can simply zero-in on the top portion of your resume and quickly decide whether you have the requisite job requirements. It’s a very effective method of getting the reviewer to short-list your resume. Here is the presentation:

If you have any questions about this presentation, please give me a call at 604-838-1222 or email me at milton.kiang@gmail.com. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Career Night for Returning English Teachers in the JET Program

On Thurs. Nov.19th, I will be giving a talk to 2014-15 participants of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program at the JETAABC Career Night. I will be talking about one of the best ways you can make your resume compelling to an employer. Career Night will be held at the Alliance for Arts and Culture at 938 Howe St.,Vancouver, from 6.45 – 9pm. If you’re a returning JET participant or JET alumni, RSVP right now!

JET Reception

Second from left: Milton Kiang
Middle: Consul General Seiji Okada
Second to Right: Dr. Ross King, Head of UBC Asian Studies

I was also a participant of the JET Program. In 1989, I was assigned to the City of Yokohama, where I taught at an elementary school, three junior high schools, and one evening technical high school. I found the experience rewarding and picked up a lot of valuable life skills that later helped me in my career. In my talk, I will guide JET participants in taking stock of their greatest strengths and skill sets, and in learning how those skills can best serve a future employer.

On Nov.5th, I attended a reception held at the official residence of the Consul General of Japan, where returning JET participants were officially welcomed by Consul General Seiji Okada. Talks were also given by Dr. Ross King, Head of the UBC Asian Studies Dept. and Mike Dalley, president of JETAABC. More details about the event can be viewed here.


Need a LinkedIn Profile?

Nowadays, more and more professionals are being viewed by prospective employers, headhunters, and HR recruiters on LinkedIn and other social media websites. As a resume writer, I can write a professional LinkedIn profile that will highlight your greatest skill sets, qualifications and professional accomplishments. When you post a profile that can be viewed by potentially hundreds within your industry or sector, you don’t want to make a causal effort. Hire a professional resume writer today. Call Milton Kiang at 604 838 1222 or email him at milton.kiang@gmail.com.


For My Resume, Do I Need To Include Every Job I’ve Ever Had?

Resume tips

As a resume writer in Vancouver, this is a common question that I get asked, so I thought I’d address it in my blog. As you probably guessed, it’s not always necessary to state every job that you’ve had since the beginning of time! While your resume should set forth a fair and accurate biography of your work history, there are some exceptions.  Here are some exceptions that you can apply:

Summer and part-time work.

These are seasonal or part-time jobs that you took during your university and college years to help you pay for tuition. These might include working as a barista at a coffee shop, a server at a restaurant, or a sales clerk at a clothing store. You can leave them out unless you utilized and developed certain skills that are relevant to your future career.

For example, if you are aiming to start a career in sales, your summer job as a sales clerk at the Gap will be important. The job shows that you have learned how to provide customer service, how to handle customer complaints, and how to talk to customers about a company’s products.

Jobs that you’ve worked in before a career change.

Let’s say you worked as an accountant for 10 years before deciding to re-train to become a computer programmer. In that case, I would say that your previous employment record as an accountant wouldn’t be of interest to a future employer, and therefore can be either be deleted or significantly abridged.

As a computer programmer, you may also remove mentions of your accounting education, training and certifications; this won’t be relevant to an employer looking to hire a programmer.

If you’ve recently re-trained as a computer programmer, and you’re out looking for your first job, you won’t have any work history in your resume, other than your previous accounting jobs. In that case, do mention your accounting jobs in your resume, but pare back on the description of your job responsibilities.

Your prospective employer won’t be interested in reading in great detail about what you did as an accountant. But if you’ve ever been promoted, then you’ll definitely want to include that information because it demonstrates your potential to outperform your peers and handle greater responsibility. If you’ve ever hired, managed and trained subordinates, then, again, your employer will want to hear about that.

Jobs that have lasted for a short duration.

This will happen to most people at least once in their career: starting a job, and then later finding out it’s not the right fit. If you’ve left the job during the probationary period, or after a few weeks, I believe it’s fair game to leave that information out. Everyone deserves to make an honest job mistake at least once in their career.


The question I ask myself, in deciding whether certain information can be excluded, is this: “If I was the employer, what would I want to know about this employee in order to make an informed hiring decision?”


Temp jobs unrelated to your primary occupation.

In today’s world of retrenchments and mass staff layoffs in order to shore up the corporate bottom-line, it’s not uncommon to see even the most loyal and dedicated worker out of a job. We all have bills to pay and we sometimes need to take temp jobs at Home Depot or Starbucks until we find our next “real job”.

I believe it’s fair game to omit those jobs since they’re not related to your main occupation, provided that those jobs are temporary (i.e. less than one year). If asked by a prospective employer what you did during that period, you can be honest and say that you held a part-time or temp job while searching for work in your field.

There are probably other situations where, as a professional resume writer, I would say it’s fair to leave out certain job information. The question I ask myself, in deciding whether certain information can be excluded, is this: “If I was the employer, what would I want to know about this employee in order to make an informed hiring decision?”

Obviously, not everything about an employee would be of interest to an employer. As mentioned above, it’s up to an employee to use her discretion, and to give a fair and accurate picture of her work and education history, while keeping her resume on-point, succinct, and relevant.

Do you have a resume that’s out of date?

It can be a daunting task to re-write your resume, trying to record everything that you’ve done during the last 10 or 20 years. As a professional resume writer, I can help you capture that information on paper in a way that underscores your strongest skill sets and talents and would impress a future employer. I can also help you with your LinkedIn profile, since more and more employers use social media to find new talent.

Call me today at 604 838 1222 or email me at milton.kiang@gmail.com to see how I can make this process much easier.

Resume Writer Milton Kiang Joins UBC Tri-Mentoring Program

UBC Tri-Art Mentoring ProgramIf you’ve read my earlier blog concerning the value of a Humanities degree, then you will know that I support the UBC Faculty of Arts Tri-Mentoring Program. Last Tuesday night (Oct. 20th) was the kick-off event, where I got to meet other Arts alumni and my two mentees. Christine Lee, an associate director of alumni engagement, together with her team, hosted the event. Lee spoke about the program’s objectives, describing areas that worked well, and others that might need improvement. She talked about the ways mentors can help their students, and how mentors themselves can benefit from the program.

One insight that I learned was that the relationship forged between mentor and mentee is unlike that which a student normally shares with his parents or teachers. Perhaps for the first time, students can interact with adults in a way that’s different from their parents and teachers.  Mentees value the relationship they have with their mentors, and from my observation, they are eager to learn as much as they can, and want to be prepared for their working life once they leave university.

For those of you who’ve left university for several years, and are thinking of ways to give back to their alma mater, participating in a similar mentorship program that your university runs is a great way to achieve this goal.

Here is a recent press release talking about my support of the program.


Need a Resume Writer?

One of the most difficult things about writing your resume, is that it is awfully difficult to be objective about your strengths and talents. Talking to a professional resume writer is a good way for you to identify areas that you are good at, and to recognize ways you can add value to an employer. Unlike other resume writing services, I actually meet with all my clients so that I can personally assess their strengths and key skill sets. Call me today at 604-838-1222 and find out how I can help you create professional resume.






5 Simple Resume Mistakes to Avoid!

Vancouver resume mistakes to avoid. September seems to be a busy month for Vancouver resume writers like myself. With kids going back to school, and the summer being over, I guess people want to try applying for new jobs. September feels like the beginning of a new year, so why not start a new job?

Before sending out your resume, quickly review your resume and make sure you avoid these common errors found in resumes. (If you’re planning on re-writing your entire resume, try following these guidelines that I put together in an earlier blog.)

1.  Typos and Spelling Errors.

Every time someone asks me what are the most common mistakes I find in resumes, I tell them they are typos, spelling and grammatical errors.

Make sure you print out your resume and proofread the hard copy.  I find that once you print your written work in hard copy, it is far easier to spot the errors. The reason for this, according to a  2014 Wired article, is that our brains already know what meaning you want to convey from your work. Therefore, when you reproduce your work in a form that is unfamiliar to you – such using a different font or printing it on paper – then the errors become easier to spot. And remember: spell check everything.

2.  Your Resume Isn’t Tailored for the Specific Job.

Many job applicants don’t spend enough time tailoring and modifying their resume to fit the job they are applying for. What they need to do is re-read their “Career Profile” or “Career Objectives” section at the top of their resume, and make sure those sections are consistent with what the employer is looking for.    


Let’s say you’re a marketing manager, and you currently handle online marketing, as well as events marketing. If the position calls for an Events Marketer, then you want to emphasize your events marketing skills above everything else. Your “Career Profile” section might start off looking like this:

“Senior marketing manager specializing in events marketing, including the planning and organization of conferences, galas, exhibitions, luncheon and evening events, covering venues for 50 to 1,000 attendees.”    

3.  Your Most Relevant Job Skills Aren’t Emphasized.

This relates to my earlier point about one’s resume not being tailored for the job application. As you go through the “Employment History” section, elaborate in detail your skills, experiences, and accomplishments that are directly relevant to the job opening. Cut back or delete information that is not directly relevant to the job description. Start with your current or most recent job, because that is where the employer would first look at.

4. Consistency.

(a) Employment Dates: If you’ve given the month and year of when you’ve started and ended previous jobs, make sure you follow through in giving both the month and year of every job that you’ve worked at.

(b) Periods: If you’ve ended a sentence with a period, make sure you follow through in ending every sentence with a period. (As a matter of grammar and style, every sentence should end with a period!)

5.  Proper Email Address.

Use an email address that is professional in appearance (e.g. john.smith@gmail.com). Avoid using cute or clever addresses like tweetybird604@hotmail.com.


Keep these five common mistakes in mind, each and every time you review your resume, and especially before you fire off your resume for a job that you’re dying to apply for.


Do you have an outdated resume, or a resume that needs a lot of improvement?

Consult with a Vancouver resume writer who can help you create a professional resume that will dramatically improve your chances of getting a job interview. See why numerous satisfied Vancouver job applicants recommend Channel Resume to help them create a first-class resume. Call 604 838 1222 or email me at milton.kiang@gmail.com