How to Write an Executive Resume That Will Stand Out in 2018

What you need for a winning executive resume:

You need a executive resume that stands out to headhunters and really shows what you can bring to the table. These tips are at the core of what makes an executive resume effective:

  • Make sure it’s the right length; for executive positions a longer resume is generally fine
  • Ensure it shows you have the specific skills and attributes mentioned in the job posting
  • The general tone should match that of the company (check their website to get a feel for this)
  • Write with the headhunter and even the board in mind; they are your audience
  • Be sure to include specific metrics wherever possible
  • Try as much as possible to show and not tell about who you are and what you can do
  • Be proactive and use referrals to make sure the headhunter looking at your resume has already heard you recommended to them

Getting hired in an executive position requires serious effort and attention to detail. That needs to apply to everything from leveraging your contacts for referrals (many of the best positions aren’t posted publicly to carefully curating every detail on your resume. Every element of your application needs to be well thought out with your audience in mind. If you’re applying to an executive position for the first time, don’t assume you can use the same resume and application techniques that have worked in the past. Ultimately, the best way to learn is from those who have already succeeded:

Best Executive resume examples by users who got hired

How to write an executive resume

Start with your professional network

For most jobs, the first step is to carefully examine the job description before crafting a resume. For executives, however, the process needs to start with networks. As mentioned above, many executive positions are never publicly posted. The board decides they need a new executive, some applicants are found through their networks, and the position is filled. Unless you’re in those networks, you never had a chance at that job.
So when you begin your job search, put the word out that you’re looking for an executive position. Let your contacts know roughly what you have in mind and see what comes your way. Of course, at the same time, don’t neglect looking for publicly posted positions as well.

Carefully study the job description

Once you have a job you’d like to apply for, it’s time to carefully examine the requirements and the company. If you have some connections, ask about the key decision makers involved in the hiring process. What are their priorities, what do they like in a candidate? Take all of this information into account as you craft your resume. If the board wants certain traits, demonstrate you have them. If you know some board members are avid golfers, mention your love of the sport. The ultimate goal is for the board and headhunter to see your resume as a near-perfect match for what they’re looking for.

Use concrete numbers whenever possible

Headhunters don’t much care that you “managed” people or “improved” processes. For executive positions, you’re held to a higher standard. You need to show your impact in each role you’ve had using specific metrics. Mentioning that you designed and implemented a new sales training regime which increased revenue by 35% over two quarters has a far greater impact than simply saying you improved sales numbers.

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Show, don’t tell

Tied in with the notion of using concrete numbers is the broader philosophy of “show, don’t tell”. Whenever possible, avoid empty buzzwords and demonstrate the qualities you claim to have (and which the headhunter and board are looking for).

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What 8 sections headhunters are looking for in an executive resume

While you should always tailor the sections of your resume to the position you’re applying for, these are 9 sections to consider for an effective executive resume.

1. Bio
2. Strengths
3. Experience
4. My Time
5. Languages
6. Most proud of
7. Philosophy
8. Books

1. Your Bio

Besides your name, a short (a few words to a sentence) description of who you are and/or what your goal is can be very effective. The idea is that a section like this sets the stage for the rest of the resume. Even if the people reviewing your resume know you, this is a great place to establish yourself and your mission. This makes the rest of your resume that much more effective.

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2. Your Strengths

This is a great way to brag a little, however, be certain that you’re backing it up. So, don’t list state that you’re a great negotiator, put an example below which demonstrates that fact.

3. Your Experience

Obviously this will be your main section of any executive resume. As mentioned above, be sure to focus on your impact in each role and to focus on demonstrating the skills and qualities you know the headhunter and board are looking for.

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4. How you spend your valuable time

The “my time” section is an Enhancv exclusive and the perfect place to get creative. You can use it to show where you’ve focused your career, how you spent a typical day, or even how you would allocate your ideal investment portfolio.

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5. Your Languages

Besides the fact that speaking multiple languages increases your cognitive abilities and the likelihood you’ll get hired, it speaks to valuable cultural knowledge in a globalized world. Even if you won’t be using these languages in this exact position, they may be worth mentioning.

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6. What you’re most proud of

Often the things that mean the most to us don’t fit neatly into our resumes. That’s why the “most proud of” section is a great way to demonstrate unique qualities, values, or accomplishments. You can speak about overcoming a significant hardship, learning a valuable lesson, or showing your devotion to friends and family.

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7. Your philosophy

Do you have a core philosophy of business? A quote or basic idea which guides all of your decisions? Is Jack Welch your hero or are you a “move fast and break things” kind of person? This is the perfect place to mention it. This kind of information really tells a recruiter where you stand, whether you will fit into their company culture, and how you approach problems.

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8. Your favorite business or leadership books

Similar to a philosophy section, including the books which have shaped your thinking is a quick way to help a recruiter understand you better. This can be an effective way to show that you can fit into a company culture and understand a company’s values.

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How to get a referral on LinkedIn for the executive role you want

Applicants who rely solely on their resume to get an interview have less than a 2% chance of getting an interview. At the same time, the sales industry is downsizing (in the US). As you can see, it’s important to give yourself the best shot possible at getting hired. This includes leveraging personal connections to get referred to a job.
So before you start applying for a new sales role, check your 1st and 2nd degree contacts in both LinkedIn and in any other relevant groups you may belong to. If you don’t have strong connections in the industry you’re looking to establish yourself in, start making them now!
Check out our complete guide to getting job referrals for more actionable tips.

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