Executive Resume Writing 101

5 Modern Rules of Executive Resume Writing

With the competition for senior-level positions hotter than ever, you need an executive resume that will attract interest from recruiters, CEOs, COOs, CFOs, and Board Members AND put you ahead of your competition. Before you get caught up in a plethora of antiquated resume writing rules and outdated advice, here are 5 modern tips you need to know before you start writing.

Applying these five modern executive resume writing tips will help position you for the leadership role you are targeting and generate more interviews.

First things first, make sure your contact information—name, email address, phone number(s) and LinkedIn profile URL—are easy to read and up to date. Although including your contact information should be straightforward, there are hundreds of resumes that are sent out without this key component or with incorrect contact information, leaving the recipient without a way to get in touch.

  1. Lead with Your Most Important Information

After your contact information, the next step is to identify the position you are targeting and then summarize your expertise and experiences that are in alignment with your industry + target employer’s needs.

The opening portion of your resume is valuable real estate and should provide the reader with a snapshot of your key qualifications while answering the employer’s question, “why are you the best CEO, COO, CFO, CTO for our organization?”

  • Create a Section that Highlights Your Top Achievements

One of the keys to a great executive resume is providing evidence of your ability to lead and make a difference. Where does the legacy you’ve left behind in your past roles intersect with your current target employer/industry needs?

Showcasing a few accomplishments at the top of your document will help market your unique skills and ignite interest from the reader.

Replace general statements (i.e. Highly visible leader skilled in overseeing operations and implementing robust processes) with quantifiable evidence of how your business acumen and leadership skills fixed the problem.

  • Delivered $4.5M in revenue growth, a 22% jump from previous year, after implementing new sales training processes for 50 business development leaders.

By framing the results you’ve delivered with context, you are giving the reader a more in-depth understanding of how you have overcome the challenges you’ve faced.

  • Focus Your Experience Section on Your Problem-Solving Abilities

The #1 mistake many executives make when writing their own resume is placing the focus on the bland details of their responsibilities rather than showcasing the impact their leadership prowess has made throughout their career.

Employers want to know what is in it for them … how your skills, leadership experience, industry expertise, problem-solving and decision-making skills are the answer to their problems.

To do that, optimize your experience section by highlighting the significant results you have delivered for each role that mirror the skills and qualifications needed for the position currently being pursued.

  • Content is King but Context Makes Your Resume Rock

Context is the connective tissue that conveys your value and solidifies your business and leadership acumen; therefore, your experience section needs to communicate how you have transformed vision into reality, maximized ROI, and implemented strategies that outpace the competition.

An accomplishment-rich resume rings hollow when the backdrop for the results delivered isn’t provided.  Each entry must champion your candidacy for the executive role you are pursuing and needs to tell the story of how you’ve delivered results against the odds.

  • Add Keywords + Action Verbs

Make your resume strong and memorable by using action verbs that communicate the value you’ve delivered to your current and past employers. Choose verbs that will resonate with your audience and immediately gives the reader a glimpse of what they can expect from you. Slashed $2M in Costs; Closed $12M in Sales; Increased Annual Revenues 24% all help the reader visualize your ability to deliver.

Mirroring keywords throughout your resume from a job posting you are targeting helps connect the dots between you and your audience by further demonstrating you have an in-depth understanding of your industry and its needs.  

  • Write Clearly + Concisely

At the executive level, you offer your next employer a wealth of experience but that doesn’t mean you should share your career history in its entirety. The length of your resume is driven by the experience you have gained in the past 15 years or so.

Positions that are aligned with your current career goal and further demonstrate your successes but are beyond the 15-year mark, can be highlighted in a ‘Prior Experience’ section that notes the titles held, company names and a brief highlight of your top accomplishment for that role.

These 5 tips will help set you apart from your competition and position you for a successful executive-level job search campaign.  

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