Executives, what if a recruiter called you today? Or your job was eliminated?
Would your executive resume and LinkedIn Profile be ready in a hurry?
Your personal brand message and value proposition need to be clear-cut (as shown in this CEO and Board Advisor resume) in order to compete at the executive level.
Even if you’re not even thinking about making a career move, the unthinkable can happen… corporate changes, downsizing, or the opportunity to pursue a great new job. Too many executives are caught off-guard in these scenarios, and panic when asked for a resume.
If you’re still using a college-era resume or you haven’t been tracking accomplishments for a while, don’t despair.
Use these 6 steps to fast-track the process of writing your executive resume so you don’t miss out on a great opportunity:
1 – Start with a Resume Title.
First and foremost, recruiters need to see your career goal. The simplest way to do this is to state your career level (also called a Resume Title) at the top of your resume.
A Resume Title helps readers to focus on your career level and desired position. Perhaps you’re pursuing a clear career goal, such as VP of Sales, that can be used to title your resume.
If you’re trying to straddle multiple career levels, consider using a more general Resume Title, such as “Senior Operations Executive” for an SVP who is also open to a COO role.
In the opening example, “Senior Executive: Chief Executive Officer and Board Advisor” squarely positions this candidate at the top echelon. Consider one of these Resume Titles as inspiration for your own resume:
- VP of Sales
- Technology Executive
- Healthcare Administrator
- Chief Compliance Officer
- Director FP&A
- Controller / CFO
- Healthcare / Hospital CEO
2 – Develop a Resume Summary.
Next, write a short profile or Resume Summary that describes your readiness for the goal, condensing your message down into just a few lines for easy reading.
Struggling to summarize your experience? Blend your career level, reputation, and achievements into just a few sentences, mentioning your career goal and leadership style.
Your Summary does NOT need to be lengthy to be effective!
For example, this summary quickly shows this candidate’s interest in sales leadership and describes career-long accomplishments:
“Strategic and hands-on sales leader known for over-quota results, post-M&A sales team integration, and strong ROI from new CRM systems. Focuses on cost-saving sales methods and tools. Delivers consistent 34% year-over-year gains in aggressive healthcare markets.”
3 – Make a list of top Career Wins.
Compile a list of top career accomplishments, including that great project you delivered ahead of schedule or the new growth ideas you led to profitability.
Your Career Wins might include some of these successes:
- Digital transformations showing new automation and efficiency improvements
- Creation of revenue-generating products and services
- Greenfield operations, particularly those generating strong ROI
- Sales techniques improving the effectiveness of your sales force
- Technology initiatives affecting staff productivity
- Revenue or profit growth as a result of your efforts
These achievements can also be smaller-scale wins; the idea is to gather examples that demonstrate innovative thinking or passion for your work. You’ll then need to flesh these out in the next step (and save your top Wins for a Page 1 summary, as described in Step #6.)
4 – Describe these wins in Achievement Bullets.
Achievement Bullets are succinct descriptions of your Career Wins and success stories; the idea is to provide employers with a frame of reference to gauge your qualifications.
Don’t be afraid to boast a little; remember that you’re being compared against other applicants and put your cards on the table accordingly!
You can write short sentence fragments that reference your results in each bullet (“23% sales improvement from new CRM system” or “New international operations representing first non-US ventures”).
You can also write longer sentences that explain accomplishments, such as “Implemented new production system delivering growth throughout recession.” Be sure to use first-person language, but omit “I” in your bullets.
In this Private Equity CFO Resume, you can see how Achievement Bullets can even be used without the bullet symbol, as shown under Executive Benchmarks & Fiscal Results, as well as within the General Partner & CFO job.
5 – Supply a Job Description for current and past positions.
Every position shown on your resume needs a clear Job Description showing the typical duties and responsibilities of the position, including budgets managed, size of your teams, specific geographies (countries, states, regions) you oversee, and other areas of authority.
As an example, the following Job Description outlines the duties of a CIO in the healthcare industry:
“Head strategic technology planning, including 5-year roadmaps, cost-saving compliance projects, and IT improvements enabling steady growth. Roll out complex architectures and champion cost-effective RPA, help desk, cybersecurity, mobility, and data center projects. Oversee 70 reports and $45M budget.”
If you’d rather make it shorter, you can simply state “Managed 4-state territory, 320 sales reps, and 3 lines of business.” This description should be placed immediately under each job title in your career history.
6 – Pull it all together for a fresh executive resume.
Now, use the content you created thus far to write your executive resume: your Resume Title, Resume Summary, Achievement Bullets, and Job Descriptions (all shown in the diagram below).
Use this resume example as a guide for placing your Resume Title, Resume Summary, Achievements, and Job Descriptions in the right spot for maximum effect. You can also see the full SVP Global Relationships resume here.
This resume shows how to break out your best Achievements into a Page 1 grouping (named “Executive & Growth Leadership Impact” in this example).
By listing your TOP Achievements on the first page, your executive resume has a better chance of attracting attention.
Your remaining Achievement Bullets can then be shown under each Job Description.
You can see a similar strategy employed in this CEO and Board Advisor sample resume, which adds headlines such as “Growth Strategist Behind Burgeoning Market Share – With Peak Rise in Valuation.”
With a little forethought and assessment of your skills, your executive resume can be pulled together for a quick submission to a top job or recruiter.
By writing out Achievements and giving thought to other components of your executive resume, you’ll be ready for the next (unexpected!) opportunity.