Landing that dream CEO position is an ambitious goal, but you’re no stranger to hard work.
As a chief executive officer, you’ve been managing company operations and increasing revenue like a pro.
Being at the executive level, you know what the competition is like for a new CEO role. So how do you stand out from all the other qualified candidates?
You must write a stand-out CEO resume that proves to the hiring team that you would be the perfect person for this important position.
You only have a few seconds to make an amazing first impression and land an interview, but this guide will help you do just that.
How to write an outstanding CEO resume
Writing a CEO resume can be intimidating. The stakes are high. You need to show companies why you’re the absolute best person for the job.
If the hiring manager isn’t impressed within a few seconds, your resume will be passed over and they’ll move right on to the next one.
How do you accurately convey all your experience and expertise in just 1-2 pages?
There are a few things to keep in mind when writing your CEO resume. First and foremost, it should be easy to scan. The hiring manager should be able to understand your passion and expertise after just skimming through it.
An executive-level resume needs to demonstrate the utmost professionalism. A great CEO resume is easy-to-read, emphasizes your work experience, and highlights your skills, education, and accomplishments.
There are conflicting opinions on whether or not a CEO resume should be limited to one page. For most positions in the majority of industries, it is recommended that your resume should be contained to one page.
However, if a company is hiring a CEO to lead their organization, they may want to see a more thorough history. Research actually suggests that hiring professionals are 2.9 times as likely to prefer two-page resumes when it came to managerial-level job openings.
It comes down to your experience and the position you’re applying for.
You should always focus on the most relevant information. If you’ve been at the executive level for 15+ years, your relevant history may not fit on one page.
Depending on the company and the position you’re applying for, there are certain skills the hiring manager may be looking for.
There are some qualities that are desired for CEOs across the board. Here are a few that hiring managers look for on CEO resumes.
If you need more guidance on the most professional-looking format, fonts, and layout use the CEO resume template in our resume builder to create your own.
What to include in your CEO resume header
The header is the simplest section of a resume, but it’s where hiring managers look first. It’s important that you start off on the right foot.
Keep the information concise and relevant.
Your CEO resume header should include the following:
- Full name
- Job title (and industry specification, if relevant)
- Email address
- Phone number
- Location (stick to just the city and state/province)
- LinkedIn URL, portfolio page, or personal website
Let’s take a look at two CEO resume header examples.
What’s wrong with the example above:
- Includes full address
- No link to a personal website or profile
Including your entire home address on your resume is an outdated practice and is considered by some to be unsafe. Companies don’t need to know more than their city and state/province, especially with completely remote roles becoming more common.
Providing a link to your LinkedIn profile, personal website, or portfolio allows the hiring manager to look deeper into your work and accomplishments. Recruiters may not take the time to look through every link, but companies will want to know more about potential employees.
Let’s look at a better example.
This example is a big improvement and meets all the following:
- Includes email and phone number
- Shows the city and province only
- Has the LinkedIn profile URL
Tips for a stand-out CEO summary section
After you’ve introduced yourself with the header, you need to keep recruiters interested with a strong CEO summary section.
The goal of the summary is to convey your value in the industry and show potential employers what you will bring to the company. A concise and engaging summary will encourage them to keep reading.
What you choose to include in your summary depends on your strengths and the needs of your target company. What is the one accomplishment that you want your future employer to know about?
There’s no perfect formula for a CEO summary, but it’s helpful to think of it in three parts: introducing your area of expertise, highlighting one achievement, what you will bring to the company.
As a CEO, you have spent years in the industry and likely have a collection of stats to choose from. Look into your target job and find their biggest company goal. Your summary should show how you will get them there.
Let’s take a look at a few CEO resume summary examples.
What doesn’t work in this example:
- Statements are extremely general
- No specific stats or data
- Uses filler words with no real meaning
This summary barely scratches the surface of what this candidate has achieved. They don’t specify what industry their 10 years of experience are in.
“Passion for leading teams” and “excellent at motivational speaking” can really mean anything. A recruiter would immediately toss this resume in the trash because it doesn’t give them any real information about the candidate.
Be clear in your choice of action words and always use concrete, specific numbers when referencing things like an increase in revenue or ROI.
Let’s look at another example.
This summary is a huge improvement. Now you’ve set the tone for the rest of your CEO resume.
Let’s look at what this summary gets right:
- Provides context for industry experience
- Gives specific achievement
- Includes factual data
- Mentions target companies by name
Show your target company that you’ve done your research and are submitting this resume to them only.
Your specific accomplishment will catch the eye of recruiters right away and put you ahead of other candidates. Keep up that momentum as we move on to the experience section.
For more tips and guidance on crafting a great CEO resume summary, check out our guide Resume Summary: How-To Guide (30+ Examples You Need To See).
How to write about your chief executive officer experience
The CEO of a company represents the brand, leads the team, and makes impactful business decisions.
Hiring a new CEO is a big decision for a company and won’t be taken lightly. They want someone who is well-qualified and has a track record of helping their organizations thrive.
They won’t just take your word for it. You need to support claims of your expertise with specific career accomplishments and real data.
Here are two examples to demonstrate.
- Managed and built relationships with universities
- Delegated projects to team members
- Raised capital
- Determined and managed budgets and finances
What’s wrong with the example above:
- Uses filler words that are non-specific and meaningless
- No mention of a positive impact in the previous role
- No specific stats or data referenced
This resume would be quickly tossed out.
Hiring managers are looking for someone to lead the entire company. Simply stating that you “raised capital” isn’t going to cut it.
Let’s try another example:
- Established relationships and secured contracts with the top universities in the country, tripling revenue during my time in this role.
- Managed a team of 120+ people, improving company efficiency by 20% and reducing employee turnover rate by 50%.
- Raised $3 million in capital from investors
- Planned and directed budget across all departments, reducing costs by 25% while improving profits.
This example is a big improvement.
What works in this CEO experience section:
- Uses positive action verbs
- Shows real career accomplishments
- Claims are backed up with data and statistics
The hiring team will be confident that this candidate has great potential to be a valuable asset to the company.
As a C-Level executive, you’ve already proven yourself in the industry. So write down your accomplishments and let the numbers speak for themselves.
If you need more details on how to get into your work experience bullets, read our guide on How to Describe Your Resume Work Experience.
What to include in your CEO resume education section
The higher you get in executive level positions, your degree tends to carry less weight. By now you’ve already proved yourself and your accomplishments speak for themselves
You will find more often than not in job descriptions that a certain number of years of experience are required and a degree is “preferred.” However, in many companies, it is common for the CEO to have a bachelor’s, master’s, or even a doctoral degree.
Even so, hiring managers should already want to hire you before they look at your education section. A basic education section with your school and degree info is sufficient.
Here is some information to include in your education section:
- University/College name
- Study years or year of graduation
- Degree type
You might also decide to include certifications on your CEO resume.
As with every section, only include certifications that are relevant to your target job. Industry-specific certifications can put you ahead of other candidates, but if you don’t any that are relevant to the role, best not to include them.
Browse more essential tips on how to feature education and certifications on your resume, in our guides Perfecting the Education Section on Your Resume and How To List Certifications On A Resume (Examples Included).
The top skills to include on a CEO resume
Now that you’ve got your amazing CEO resume work experience section done, it’s time to move on to skills.
A chief executive officer is a dynamic role that requires just as many soft skills as it does technical skills, if not even more.
You will be constantly meeting people, negotiating, managing employees, and being the public face of the company.
You also need to show that you’re extremely knowledgeable about the industry you’re in.
It is important here to tailor your list of skills to your target job. You might have all of the skills listed below, but too many will make recruiters lose interest.
Focus on the skills where your strengths and the target role intersect.
Here are some examples of the top skills a CEO needs to land an interview.
Your great CEO resume should include industry-specific skills as well. These will vary depending on the company and position.
Remember to back up claims of your soft skills in your experience section. If you list “motivational” in your skills hiring managers will want to see specifically how you have motivated your teams in the past.
Key takeaways for creating a great CEO resume:
- Emphasize your accomplishments in your former roles and back them up with data
- The format and structure must demonstrate high-level professionalism
- Tailor every section of your resume to your target job
- Include the right balance of soft skills and hard skills
- Your skills section should include industry-specific terminology and action-focused language