Dusting off your old executive resume for an update?
Hold that thought.
Your previous resume was probably written 5 or 10 years ago, using a different tone, formatting, and keyword content – all designed for a lower-level role!
At the executive level, you’ll need a fresh approach – with a unique type of storytelling and presentation to ensure your brand stands out. To write an effective and powerfully targeted executive resume, you’ll need to do more than just add newer job titles and dates.
Here’s how to rethink your executive resume content, update your resume, and take the RIGHT steps to reach that coveted corner office:
1 – Start by writing down your accomplishments from scratch.
While this may sound daunting, it’s also the only way to unravel your personal brand value and extract a consistent message of leadership.
Jot down answers to these questions as a first step:
- What specific job / title will you pursue?
- What credentials and expertise make you qualified to step into this role?
- What makes you a unique candidate among other contenders?
- What do others say about the quality and consistency of your work?
By identifying the leadership qualities and expertise critical to the executive role you want (as described in 5 Executive Resume Writing Secrets Used by Experts), you’ll be able to use this information to update your resume summary of qualifications.
For example, a revenue executive might answer the questions with:
- Chief Revenue Officer in tech firm.
- Fast revenue turnarounds at technology companies and new teams built to handle competitive markets.
- Peak revenue results of up to 186% in almost every role against economic downturns; likes to stay hands-on; identifies global growth capabilities; maintains technical knowledge on a variety of technology platforms and products.
- Praised for creating strong teams reaching top revenue records.
The resulting resume qualifications profile might look like this:
Chief Revenue Officer and results driver against diverse economic situations and aggressive markets. Creates up to 186% results in new EMEA and APAC markets by leading turnarounds and motivating teams to #1 results in history. Drives unprecedented revenues at Fortune-ranked accounts in every role. Broad tech industry acumen.
2 – Put each of your achievements in C-A-R format.
You’ve made major strides in your executive career, and now is the time to recall them for employers to see.
The C-A-R method, which stands for Challenge-Action-Result, is an effective resume writing tool because it requires you to assess situations you’ve faced (the Challenge), the steps you took to resolve them (Action), and the impact on the company (Result). Make no mistake about it – this resume writing method is the KEY to conveying the effect of your leadership style!
To put this method to work, first make a list of your signature career accomplishments, aiming for at least 3-5 wins from each job.
Next, write these success stories in C-A-R format, describing the situation you encountered, the actions you took (or led) to reverse it, and then the end result. Shorten the sentences to concise bullet points, as shown in these examples:
Took over failing sales team at CEO request; built new forecasting and accountability methods resulting in 33% improvement in just 6 months.
Launched new international manufacturing site after building executive approval. Realized 5.6% first-year profit and grew operation to 14.8% profit during third year.
You’ll need to add these sentences to your executive resume as achievement bullets, listing them in priority order under each job. Look at these executive resume samples for more insight on presenting your success stories.
3 – Cut your storytelling down to size.
One of the most common problems executives face when writing their resumes is how to fit all that great experience into 2 or 3 pages.
Here’s where you’ll need to take a hard line when reviewing your career history.
First, look through your past jobs, training, and credentials – slashing ruthlessly after the 15-20 year mark so that you’re left with mostly fresh content.
Leave degrees and other important certifications on your resume, but cut that programming job straight out of college, or your moonlighting gig from years ago.
In addition, you’ll want to refrain from lengthy descriptions you might have used on former resumes. Keep each achievement “story” to a maximum of 3 lines or less for easy reading.
4 – Build a fresh list of executive resume keywords.
Keywords represent skills, credentials, areas of industry expertise, and other indicators of value. Just like other aspects of your resume, these WILL be different at the executive level.
To demonstrate your value proposition, your executive keywords must reflect your soft skills, such as Consensus Building, Board Relations, or Contract Negotiations, as well as in-demand hard skills, technical proficiencies, and specific industry terms.
First, identify keywords worthy of your career story. Peruse job postings at your target level, taking note of leadership abilities, certifications, and technical knowledge mentioned in the ad. You can also review the LinkedIn Profiles of executives who hold your ideal job to scout for more keywords.
Next, incorporate these keywords into your executive resume; list them in your summary, add them in a Leadership Competencies section, and weave them into your resume in context.
The result? A higher keyword density ratio, which is important if you submit the resume online, where it will face Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) systems.
Your executive resume deserves more than a mere facelift to compete with other leaders in today’s job market!
You’ll get FASTER results by expressing your personal brand in a stronger, more concise manner, using the best executive resume writing trends and the right content.
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- Laura Smith-Proulx, CCMC, CPRW, CPBA, TCCS, COPNS, CIC, CTTCC, NCOPE