Executive resumes aren’t what they used to be.

Now considered career marketing documents, resumes have evolved into a presentation of ROI, complete with metrics, success stories, keywords, and formatting elements that showcase leadership experience.

If you’re still adding to a mid-career (obituary-style) resume, other leaders WILL edge you out in the race for choice opportunities. Mundane details and responsibilities won’t cut it for a leadership role.

Consider taking these steps to brand your expertise and prove your readiness for that next executive role:

1 – Turn Your Success Stories Into Metrics-Driven Achievements.

Quantifiable results, cost savings, team size, and budget authority are important elements in an executive resume. There’s often no better way to demonstrate how you’ll make an impact than to show it in specific figures.

No matter your role, you can still add metrics critical to your message. For example, a CIO can show cost savings from vendor negotiation or hardware leasing (“Trimmed 45% off annual contracts by establishing new vendor relationships,” for example). The COO can focus on improvements across sales revenue. A VP of Engineering should be able to offer R&D figures showing efficiencies in product development.

To start, put a list of all project budgets, costs, operational and CAPEX figures, and similar metrics into your resume.

Then, as you’re recalling success stories, make a note to quantify savings, employee retention, or increases in profit as part of these achievements. (Your competition will be doing exactly that!)

2 – Switch Up Your Resume Presentation.

If you still see color on executive resumes as trendy, you’ll need to adjust your thinking. The best use of color is to help emphasize the right information in your document.

When judiciously placed, color can highlight the words you want employers to notice, or visually separate text to “add” more space. This is especially important if your document seems crowded.

This Sales Director resume shows how a dash of color can delineate key points (Sales Eminence awards at Oracle)—employing color as both a backdrop and a text enhancement.

Be sure the color you select is in alignment with your industry. 

Neon green, for example, would not work well when viewed by a conservative audience.

3 – Add Context to Demonstrate Executive Leadership & Decision-Making.

Employers need to understand your leadership style and the methods you use to drive results. By writing out your achievements in C-A-R (Challenge-Action-Result) format before building your executive resume, you’ll start to see patterns that represent your personal brand value.

You can also use the S-T-A-R formula representing Situation, Task, Action, and Result for each success story; what’s important is extracting the high points of your career.

As an example of context, this CEO executive resume shows how the candidate turned around growth challenges and worked closely with private equity firms to generate new profits. 

In the same manner, this CEO and COO resume demonstrates how pursuing government and NGO clients helped turn around the business.


In summary, remember that employers won’t realize the value of your strategic perspective and business acumen unless you illustrate it for them!

To stand out, you’ll need to show both the results you generate AND the leadership style you bring to the company.