The Power of Your Resume

You're at the top of your game professionally, yet your resume is not fully reflective of your career progression. To successfully realize your goal to secure a new executive position, you must tailor your resume to present yourself in a certain light. The challenge in writing an executive resume requires more than just presenting your qualifications and experience; it also necessitates that you highlight that you’re on top of your personal branding game as well!

Senior leadership resumes are different because executive-level roles demand managerial experience. Executive experience requires executive exposure. Being in the right place at the right time is key; opportunity comes knocking only when you have already built up enough knowledge and skill to capitalize on it. Successful resumes will include all the information needed to make it clear that you deserve the position and convey that you can be trusted with making senior decisions.

In terms of first impressions, your resume will be all that they have to determine if you are a fit for an interview.

What is an Executive Summary?

An executive summary is a great way to introduce the framework of your professional experience. The key is to be genuine and summarize your strengths with the goal of convincing your reader that you have a demonstrated capability to manage people effectively. However, at the same time try not to use industry-specific jargon or acronyms, as most executives do not know these codes.

Another key element in writing an excellent summary is to be straightforward about your goals. By positioning a clear career objective at the top of your resume you will be noticed as someone who understands what they want—which executive recruiters will be sure to appreciate.

"When writing executive summaries for executive resumes, it is important that you are 100 percent honest," said Josh Howarth, co-founder of Resume Go Round. "Never exaggerate or stretch the truth because you think it will help get you to the next selection stage."

Executive Resume Formatting: Organization and Flow

  • Most executive resumes follow a three-part structure: an executive summary, professional experience, and educational background. The executive summary should be no more than one page in length and highlight your main skills and achievements.
  • There are four common executive resume formats, the chronological resume, the functional resume, the targeted executive resume, or the combination executive resume. Different industries will also call for more diverse formatting styles, so be sure to research what the appropriate formatting style is for your industry.
  • Make it is easy to read. Executive resumes tend to have a lot of information; remember that being concise is key.
    • Use subheadings to make your resume easier for executive recruiters to go through, only list the number of years of experience you have in each job (not each month or year).
    • Ensure that there are no spelling or grammatical errors - executive readers will notice these immediately.

How to Make Your Resume Stand out Like a CEO

It's not enough for executive-level professionals to list their titles and dates of employment; they need a professional document that fully showcases their executive accomplishments.

An executive resume is a powerful tool used to showcase executive experience and abilities. Senior executive resumes are meant to give the employer an overview of your professional experience, achievements, and knowledge acquired during your career. Seek out high-visibility projects that can speak to your abilities required by the positions, such as leading meetings, collaborative projects, managing large marketing budgets, or closing major deals. These are all better suited for different formats of resumes.

You must provide clear evidence of management potential in order to be effective at landing executive jobs. If your potential doesn’t accomplish this objective, then it's unlikely to get you invited for an executive interview. An effective strategy to build an executive career progression section is to highlight your successes with numbers, percentages, and dollar amounts wherever possible. Quantitatively presenting your success is compelling because there is no ambiguity over proven financial data, in other words, the recruiters will get an indisputable sense of how you lead projects to financial betterment.

Successful professional experience entails identifying transferable skills that will be of value in other employment settings. If there are gaps in your career timeline it's best not to try explaining them away but instead focus on what you've achieved since then.


Build an Executive Resume That Will Achieve Your Aims

There are concrete steps that successful professionals can take to make themselves known for what they do best, get noticed by senior management, and get snapped up by companies who need their expertise. Here are some tips to help you stand out from the crowd:

1. Use Keywords Strategically

When building executive resumes, place emphasis on certain keywords in key positions throughout the document to make sure your skills and professional experience come across loud and clear. The right words could land your resume at the top of a recruiter's list—but if they're used too much (or in the wrong context), they'll instead lead to your application being disregarded or even deleted before it's even read!

Keywords also act as pillars when browsing executive resumes. Recruiters are usually time-constrained, so they'll prioritize ones that include the right keywords in the executive summary and career history sections when applications are similar.

Are you a strong leader with excellent communication skills? Mention this in your executive resume using words like "led," "managed" or "supervised." You could also use phrases such as "appointed team leader" if you've been given executive responsibility for a specific area.

Do you have extensive experience with market strategies? Emphasize this by including relevant words throughout your executive resume—just be sure to do it tastefully!

2. Focus on Presenting Achievements in a Favorable Manner

Successful executive resumes should focus on professional achievements rather than day-to-day work activities. List in detail, including dollar amounts saved/earned, key people managed, or other relevant information. When describing executive responsibilities, employers want to know what you've achieved on the job. For example, instead of simply saying "managed new product launch," explain how you pulled this off successfully. Provide them with metrics with measurable outcomes.

3. Proofread your Executive Resume Carefully

When executive employers review executive resumes, they're looking for reasons to cut the stack down. This means that typos and grammatical errors will immediately mark you out as a less-than-professional candidate, so take great care to proofread your executive resume before submission.

Join BlueSteps to get connected to our network of advisors and resume writers to ensure that your resume is as professional and cohesive as needed to assist you in landing your future role.

4. Customize Each Executive Resume for Individual Applications

Personalize your executive resume to showcase executive achievements. The first step in drafting an executive resume is to determine which roles you want it to apply to. The varied responsibilities of executive roles mean that executive resumes follow different standards, depending on the industry and executive level. Create a list of potential employers and match your experience, accordingly, focusing on what skills you've developed in each position.

Although certain elements should remain consistent throughout (such as executive summary, career history, and contact information), you should also tailor other sections to reflect the demands of each target position. It may also be helpful to make a list of soft and technical skills that the role will benefit from to set yourself apart from competitors.

Personal Branding

It is important to be mindful of the fact that employers search for candidates' social media profiles before setting up an interview. This means, as a prospective employee you must be cognizant about what is on your Facebook page and LinkedIn account!

Social media has become an important tool in today's job search. 90% of employers search for candidates' social networks before setting up interviews, and it is likely this trend will continue as technology advances.

Use social media to your advantage. Create thought leadership posts and add value to the conversations in your industry. By adding knowledge to a specific topic, you can present yourself as a leader in your field. Be sure to optimize your profile with keywords.

With the demand for career portfolios on an upward trajectory, it's not surprising that many companies are offering this option. In a study conducted by Hover in 2017 they found out 86% of key decision-makers will review your work if you provide one and 71% said how well-designed or impressive these documents were when deciding whom to hire! The data speaks for itself—it’s important to have a career portfolio ready.

Final Thoughts

For executive-level professionals, an executive resume is necessary to create a competitive edge. The executive resume should be elegant and concise—it represents the executive as a whole and must communicate his or her value proposition (what makes them unique and what they can offer) and experience in a way that contributes to their success.

As an executive, your presentation of your professional experience will be the key to getting you where you want to go. Your career progression needs to be evident in your executive-level resume. By following these tips when building executive resumes, you'll be able to ensure that recruiters see the best possible version of yourself. Good luck with your job search!


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