An executive resume has some distinctly different components than that of a middle-management or more entry-level position. If you're already an executive, or if you have your eye on a C-level position (for example, CEO, COO, CFO, or Executive Director), you need to know how to write an executive resume that demonstrates your strategic, partnership/relationship, and other leadership qualities.
In short, your resume needs to reflect your “executive self” both in terms of format and content.
Executive Resume Formatting
- Use a Title rather than an Objective statement. In other words, you could say “Chief Operations Officer” right at the top, rather than “Objective: Seeking a position as Chief Operations Officer.”
- For the Summary of Qualifications section, you can use bullet points OR one or two short paragraphs stating what you “bring to the table” – i.e., your years of experience, special skills and qualities, etc.
- You might include a few choice “Key Accomplishments” from your career to include in the Summary section, so that recruiters and other executives will see them right at the top.
- Instead of the heading “Summary of Qualifications,” you might use “Professional Profile,” “Career Summary,” or no heading at all.
- Make sure your resume is clear, articulate, and easy to read, with plenty of white space between points and between your different positions.
- Don’t worry about going over two pages; many executive resumes are a very full three pages. Many employers want to see the length and breadth of your career – show them!
How to Write Executive Resume Content
There are some important things to think about regarding the content, especially in the Professional Experience section. As you think about your accomplishments, keep your eye on the bigger picture, and consider answering the following questions as a way to “talk about” what you’ve done in your career:
- How have you established, directed, guided or collaborated on the vision and/or strategic direction of the company/organization?
- Have you used “big picture” analysis to help guide the process?
- What about strategic/business planning? Thought leadership?
- Have you built and/or directed teams? Have you had hire/fire responsibility?
- What about coaching and mentoring others? Performance evaluations? Helping team members with their career development?
- How have you been responsible for budgets (e.g. created them, tracked them, etc.)? What size budget(s)? What about finding/securing funding sources, which could be foundations, grants, venture capital, private donors, government funding, etc.?
- Have you participated in any mergers or acquisitions, company start-ups, Board development or business development initiatives? If so, how?
- What about your relationship-building skills, partnership negotiations, and at what level?
- Do you have public speaking experience, and/or have you delivered presentations at conferences, or to high-level clients? Provided testimony in court? Represented the company or organization before the public and other audiences?
- Do you have a network of contacts/resources in your field/industry that are valuable to others?
The above are some of the elements to consider when deciding how to write an executive resume, whether it’s for a corporate, non-profit or public sector position. Of course, you want to focus on whatever is most relevant to the position you are seeking, so check the job posting if it is available, and make sure that you address as many of the requirements for the job as possible.
When your c-level resume is completed, ask yourself the big question: Does it truly reflect my executive self?
This guest post is by Beth Brown, Senior Professional Resume Writer on Susan Ireland's Resume Team.