If you’re an executive searching for your next opportunity in today’s hotly competitive market, you’ve probably found that the task of marketing yourself is unlike any other.

How DO you sum up a long, storied career in just a few paragraphs? What is the best way to differentiate yourself on paper–and to get others to focus on this value?

Standing out among the pack requires an intense emphasis on your natural leadership abilities, the impact you have on your employer’s businesses, the feedback you get from colleagues, and the hard skills that you bring to the table.

This information comprises what is known as a “personal brand,” and it has become the cornerstone of a successful executive resume in the employment arena.

Here are 5 insider tips that can help bring out your personal brand–and get your resume to open more doors for you:

1 – Hone Your Message.

Many executive resumes contain too much detail, which is quite understandable given the long tenure that many candidates possess.

However, it’s asking a lot of hiring authorities to wade through more than 2 or 3 pages of information.

My recommendation? Sharpen the intensity of your branding message by zeroing in on your top 3-5 main qualifiers, including success stories and keywords that back these up.

In addition, focus on one career goal and skill set at a time. This may mean that you will create one resume targeting a role as COO, and another that describes your skills for a VP of Sales position.

2 – Don’t Bury the Lead.

As we used to say in journalism, get your critical information all up front and ready for the reader to absorb.

Just started a high-level MBA program? Get it on the front page. Held roles of increasing scope that lead to your destination as CEO? Make it obvious.

Don’t bury this type of key information on page 2 of your resume. The top half of the first page is prime “resume real estate,” and your main qualifications deserve center stage here.

In addition, many executives benefit from a branding statement, which is a short sentence that serves as a marketing tagline. You can develop this sentence by jotting down some ideas on what you bring to the table, and how you achieve it.

A great branding tagline will tap into the heart of what you offer, such as these examples culled from the front-page position on executive resumes:

“COO Who Leverages Business Competencies to Create Profitable Ventures with Exceptional ROI”

“Strategic & Operational Leader for Real Estate Investment/Master Planning”

3 – Tell Your Story.

Most executives are able to spout figures and facts about their achievements, but it’s the story behind these accomplishments that will add weight to the resume.

Consider looking at your results in light of the C-A-R (Challenge-Action-Result) strategy, which asks you to describe the situation you faced at work (Challenge), what you did when faced with it (Action), and of course, the outcome (Result) that occurred.

The C-A-R formula is popular for a reason–these anecdotes can also form the basis for success stories that you can also use as a basis for your next executive interview.

4 – Carefully Format Your Presentation.

When creating an executive resume, it’s important to differentiate yourself from both your direct competition, plus distinguish yourself from lower-level applicants–and this means that it is best to make your document DIFFERENT from all the others.

Searching the Internet for executive resume samples will show you that there are many choices for font, format, and graphics that give flair to an executive resume presentation.

Above all, refrain from using the classic Microsoft Word template for your resume. Doing so will make your qualifications blend in rather than stand out, and lay the foundation for less-than-stellar results.

5 – Use Those Glowing References.

Got testimonials? If so, you’re in good shape, as these form a key part of a successful personal

Better yet, including this information on your executive resume will allow you to back up the stories you’ve told about your achievements.

Many executives are able to use a quote or letter of reference as a striking addition to their leadership resume, especially when it reflects what they’ve already noted about their skills and competencies.

If you don’t have access to this information, be sure to seek out colleagues, supervisors, customers, and even suppliers as a source of positive feedback. Then, take a shorter version of the most powerful testimonial to use as an endorsement.

As an example, a COO targeting a lateral move might be able to include a quote such as “Ted’s resourcefulness and ingenuity are without equal. I have witnessed his ability to grow a startup into a maturing business and develop a multimillion-dollar venture in a difficult economic environment,” from a corporate officer onto the executive resume–thereby verifying performance from a key reference source.

In summary, there ARE effective ways to develop a masterpiece executive resume. It’s important to ensure that hiring authorities can quickly cut to the heart of your qualifications–and consider you for prime opportunities that closely match your talents.