A funny thing happened during the job market of the past 10+ years… where resumes started to showcase strong personal brands instead of career obituaries.

Plenty has changed in job search over the past decade, and your executive resume needs to wake up to new trends.

All puns aside, a strong and uniquely crafted personal brand message must be present in your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn Profile to outwit the competition.

Here are the trends to observe:

Resume Trend #1: New Ways to Present Data.

Gathered metrics on your job performance, but not sure how to make them stand out? Now, executive resume trends include the use of graphics and charts (such as the illustrations in this sample Enterprise Technology Sales Resume).

Even if you’ve never added a graphic element to your resume, take heart: thanks to the Insert function in Microsoft Word, adding a chart is easier than ever. This function will display an Excel spreadsheet in which to add the requisite metrics, as well as prompt you to select the chart of your choice, such as a bar graph.

Remember that hiring managers are constantly looking for candidates who distinguish themselves at a leadership level. By highlighting the metrics you’ve worked hard to gather (and achieve), you’re making their job easier in 2015.

Resume Trend #2: A Fresh Design.

What used to work for executives or senior-level professionals is now outdated. Dashes of color, changes in font style, intensive keyword strategy, and graphics will help present your story, as shown in this award-wining CEO & COO Resume.

The trend toward using eye-catching design elements isn’t new; executive resume practices have evolved over the past few years, with a transition away from the one-page, all-white documents of the past.

If your resume isn’t employing these strategies, update it now! A refresh is always a good idea in order to stay competitive.

Resume Trend #3: A Powerful, Targeted Cover Letter.

Why would a cover letter be important now? While it’s true that employers will often read your resume and LinkedIn Profile first, they’ll also use your cover letter to gauge your communications skills.

Therefore, you’ll want to take some time writing an effective cover letter that appeals to hiring audiences – ensuring you’re both addressing their needs and mentioning your knowledge of the company.

Even if you target recruiters (who aren’t as interested in your cover letter), keep in mind that many executives (CEO, CFO, COO, or head of HR) are likely to review your letter to get a feel for your writing style – looking for a fit with the company culture and goals for employee engagement. Consider using the tactics in How to Write a High-ROI, Branded Cover Letter.

Resume Trend #4: Concise, Brand-Focused Wording.

Leadership resumes have now evolved into shorter, more precisely written documents, especially when it comes to the first page.

This means you no longer have to write a bloated qualifications profile, but can instead list pertinent details (as shown in this Regional VP Sales resume).

As noted in the points above, this document employs leading resume trends, including graphic elements, color, and a summary of the candidate’s career trajectory — all effective strategies in distinguishing executive qualifications.

Resume Trend #5: Alignment With Social Media.

Congratulations! From this point forward, you’ve become a hot search topic, as employers and recruiters are turning to Google and LinkedIn to learn more about you.

If your resume writing and LinkedIn styles aren’t in alignment, this trend can catch you off-guard – making it difficult for employers to understand who they’re reading about.

Therefore, as you’re writing your resume, keep in mind that your social media profiles must reference the same personal brand message (designed, of course, for a more engaging, personable tone), even if you’re referencing the same keywords and achievements.

In summary, an effective executive resume now requires evidence of your leadership achievement, standout design, social media alignment (or social proof), and a branded cover letter as backup.

Don’t go into your job search without observing these trends! Wake up your resume and job search materials to match the new reality.

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