The Visionary’s Resume

I read a resume today of a successful IT executive that was a little over top today with their claims.  The resume started with a Professional Qualifications sections with a half dozen bullets.  I’m going to share a couple of the bullets that went a little too far:

  • Technology and business visionary with executive and hands-on experience creating robust IT architectures with the proven ability to bring the benefits of IT to solve business issues while managing costs and risks.
  • Information Assurance Guru with experience establishing secure enterprise systems.

Referring to yourself as a visionary or a guru doesn’t make a good impression on me.  My first question is how did you earn these monikers?  This individual has a lot of accomplishments on their resume.  Unfortunately, they pretty much tell me what technologies were implemented and the size of the project.  This is the same information on the resumes fo other IT executives.  Without knowing the details, there’s no way of knowing if this individual is truly a visionary guru, or if they are just like everyone else.

The second problem with using language like this is that it raises the expectations of the hiring manager.  I expect a person that is a visionary to be clearly better than others with similar experience.  If they don’t stand out this way, I have to doubt the titles visionary and guru, and in turn, the rest of the claims on their resume.  There’s no need to create an expectation that is excessively high that you then need to meet.

One more reason I would stay away from language like this is that it gives a strong impression of arrogance.  Although it might not be a turn off for everyone, there are a lot of people that won’t like it. 

You might think that language like this is rare.  It’s certainly not on every resume, but I do see it from time to time.  I did a quick search of 350 resumes I’ve received recently and 12 had claims of being a visionary.  This was the only one in the group that said they were a guru, though.

Now lets look at a couple more of the bullets at the top of this resume.  They’re much better, and if the job seeker had stuck to just these, they would have made a better overall impression.

  • Extensive vendor relationship management and negotiations, facilitating a partnering relationship generating better vendor performance and overall company performance.
  • Proven Leader with over 15 years of significant, progressive experience in IT leadership.

These bullets aren’t very specific, but they convey a better tone.  They describe experience and accomplishment in a confident but not arrogant way. 

Now, here’s the tough part of this.  I’m sure the job seeker that wrote this resume was not trying to convey a sense of arrogance with first two bullets.  They may have been called visionary and guru by friends and didn’t think much of it.  The problem is being able see how your resume is going to be perceived by a wide audience.