10 Essential Tips for Creating an
Exceptional Executive Resume

YOU HAVE THE POWER TO WRITE A GREAT EXECUTIVE RESUME. HERE ARE 10 STEPS FOR CREATING A GREAT EXECUTIVE RESUME THAT WILL GET EMPLOYERS’ ATTENTION.

Have you ever felt stuck in your career, despite your skills, experience, and dedication? Do you find it frustrating that your career growth seems to have hit a plateau? The truth is that despite your best efforts, something seems to be holding you back from achieving your true potential.

I am here to tell you that the key to moving up in your career and increasing your salary already resides within you. Every professional has a unique combination of skills, talents, and passions that sets them apart. By identifying and highlighting these strengths on your resume, you can unlock the door to new career opportunities and salary growth.

Over the last few years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with several Directors, Vice Presidents, and C-level executives, helping them present a strong branding image to recruiters and hiring managers.  

Submitting an exceptional executive resume is crucial to getting noticed in today’s competitive job market. In this article, I will present you with my 10 proven tips that have helped my clients score $300K and $400K jobs in less than 30 days.

1. CHOOSE AN APPROPRIATE TEMPLATE DESIGN & FORMAT

When creating an executive-level resume, it’s important to choose a template design that is visually appealing, yet effectively showcases your qualifications and skills.

When exploring template options, prioritize those that cater specifically to executive-level. An executive-level template should include a separate section dedicated to your achievements. This allows you to showcase your accomplishments which help you stand out from candidates with similar skills.

Also, select a format that emphasizes clarity and simplicity while maintaining a touch of sophistication. You want the overall look to be polished and modern, reflecting your executive status. Utilize formatting techniques such as bolding, italics, bullet points, and headings to draw attention to key sections, making it easier for readers to navigate and focus on essential information.

The layout should be organized and intuitive, with clear sections for your executive summary, professional experience, skills, education, and the spotlight achievements section.

Regarding length, executive resumes tend to be 2-3 pages. If page 3 only has a few lines of content, see if you can reduce the resume length to 2 pages by narrowing down the margins or reducing paragraphs.

Regarding formatting, make sure to review your document for consistent font style, size, and spacing.

2. CREATE A STRONG EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

In today’s competitive job market, capturing the attention of hiring managers is crucial. The executive summary plays a key role in making a great first impression. Positioned at the top of your resume, this concise yet impactful section provides a snapshot of your most relevant qualifications and key accomplishments, enticing employers to dive deeper into your accomplishments.

To maximize the effectiveness of your executive summary, focus on quantifiable achievements and outcomes. Mention milestones, projects, or initiatives that have had a substantial impact on the success of your previous employers. Numbers and metrics lend credibility to your claims and demonstrate your ability to deliver tangible results. Whether it’s revenue growth, cost savings, market expansion, or team development, let your accomplishments speak volumes about your competence and leadership.

Additionally, infuse your executive summary with a touch of personality and authenticity. Showcase your passion for your work and commitment to excellence. Highlight any unique strengths that set you apart from other candidates.

Example: Future-oriented and innovative Executive Leader, driving multimillion-dollar revenue growth and market expansion through strategic initiatives. Skilled at leading high-performing teams and optimizing operations for consistent and high-level results. Proven track record delivering quantifiable achievements, including 30% revenue increase within the first year. Committed and passionate, able to thrive in challenging environments, setting new standards for excellence and continuously driving business success.

3. APPLY STRATEGIC STORYTELLING

Another powerful way to stand out is by applying strategic storytelling throughout your resume. As you dive into the work experience section, seize the opportunity to incorporate impactful stories that showcase your leadership skills, problem-solving abilities, and talent for driving positive change.

Your resume becomes a canvas for showcasing your leadership qualities, resilience, and transformative abilities. With each story shared, you demonstrate how you’ve navigated obstacles, improved teams, and spearheaded initiatives that have left a lasting mark on the organizations you’ve been a part of.

This strategic storytelling approach helps hiring managers connect with your accomplishments on a deeper level. They gain insights into your thought process, decision-making skills, and the value you bring to the table as a top-tier executive candidate.

Your ability to narrate your professional journey in an engaging and results-driven manner leaves a memorable impression, setting you apart from other applicants and positioning you as the ideal choice for executive leadership roles.

Example:

VP OF OPERATIONS

Company Name, Dates

Intro paragraph:

Streamlined processes and optimized resource utilization to enhance overall operational efficiency. Supervised and directed 10+ operational teams, fostering a culture of collaboration and excellence to achieve business objectives. Developed and executed strategic plans to align operations with organization’s goals and drive sustainable growth.

Achievements:

  • Led strategic initiatives, reducing operational costs by 20% through process improvements and resource allocation optimization.
  • Achieved 30% increase in team productivity by implementing performance metrics, training programs, and workflow automation.
  • Boosted revenue growth 15% year-over-year by developing and executing strategic initiatives, including market expansion and product diversification.
 

In the example above, I’ve utilized a strategic balance of paragraphs and bullets that work together to stand out in a quick 15-20 second review. These details are formatted differently, so your achievements stand out since they set you apart from other candidates with similar skills.

4. MAKE YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS SHINE

The bullet points under each job entry are one of the most important parts of your resume. The bullets describe your special achievements, contributions, or projects. These are distinct from job duties as they are one-time events, ideally with a quantifiable result. You should aim for 2 to 6 bullets. For example:

  • Spearheaded successful organizational restructuring, resulting in improved efficiency, streamlined processes, and significant cost savings.
  • Led the company through a period of rapid expansion, opening new markets and achieving double-digit revenue growth in 1 year.
  • Enhanced market positioning by negotiating and securing major strategic partnerships with key industry players.
 

By strategically creating achievement-based bullet points, you make sure your resume effectively showcases your contributions and the impact you’ve had in your previous roles. This not only captures the attention of potential employers but also demonstrates your ability to deliver results and drive value.

5. ADD TARGETED KEYWORDS

Optimize your resume for both applicant tracking systems (ATS) and human readers by strategically incorporating relevant keywords from the job posting into each section of your resume. This increases the chances of your resume being selected by ATS and demonstrates alignment with desired qualifications.

If you lack certain specific experiences or qualifications mentioned in the job posting, highlight your transferable skills. These are qualities that can be applied across different roles and industries and are highly valued by employers.

The best section for including keywords is your “Expertise” section.

Example “Areas of Expertise” for VP of Operations:

  • Operational Strategy
  • Team Building & Leadership
  • Process Optimization
  • Quality Assurance
  • Financial Management
  • Change Management
  • Vendor and Supplier Relations
  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Risk Management
  • Customer Experience Enhancement
  • Data Analysis and Decision-Making
  • Resource Allocation
  • Project Management
  • Strategic Partnerships

 

Tip: While incorporating targeted keywords is essential, avoid stuffing your resume with irrelevant buzzwords or skills you don’t possess.

6. USE AN ACTIVE VOICE WITH POWERFUL ACTION WORDS

Action words can really spice up your resume if done right!

Imagine you’re a busy recruiter and you read hundreds even thousands of resumes each day and every single one of them includes the same passive words such as responsible for, accountable for, etc. Guess what? These words are boring and don’t provide much value.

Instead, use an active voice and choose power-packed action words to help you stand out. These words convey confidence, impact, and leadership qualities, leaving a strong impression on the reader.

Incorrect:

  1. Responsible for content marketing at company X.
  2. Accountable for managing company’s Instagram account.

 

Correct:

  1. Spearheaded company X’s content marketing operations.
  2. Orchestrated overhaul of company’s Instagram account.

 

Resume action words for leadership achievements:

  1. Achieved
  2. Attained
  3. Strengthened
  4. Initiated
  5. Coordinated
  6. Developed
  7. Managed
  8. Orchestrated

 

Resume power words to use instead of “Responsible for”:

  1. Accomplished
  2. Acquired
  3. Achieved
  4. Acted As
  5. Completed
  6. Created
  7. Executed
  8. Finished
  9. Forged
  10. Made
  11. Navigated
  12. Negotiated
  13. Operated
  14. Partnered
  15. Performed
  16. Prepared
  17. Produced
  18. Secured
  19. Succeeded In
  20. Undertook

 

Use these power words to spice up your resume and add variety to your language.

7. PRIORITIZE RECENT WORK EXPERIENCE

Employers are interested in what you have done most recently rather than what you did 20 years ago. When rewriting your work history, focus on your most recent experience first and limit the length to the last 15 years of relevant experience. By showcasing your most recent positions, you demonstrate your up-to-date knowledge and skills, which are highly valuable to potential employers.

8. SHOWCASE CONTINUOUS LEARNING

Executive-level positions require individuals who are committed to ongoing growth and development. Highlight your commitment to staying current in your field by including relevant certifications, training programs, and professional memberships. This demonstrates your dedication to expanding your knowledge and skills.

9. DISPLAY STRONG RELATIONSHIP-BUILDING SKILLS

As an executive, your communication and relationship-building skills are critical. Showcase your ability to effectively communicate complex ideas, influence stakeholders, and build strong professional relationships. Highlight instances where you successfully led negotiations, presented to senior management, or collaborated with key stakeholders to drive business objectives.

10. THINGS TO EXCLUDE FROM YOUR RESUME

Here are a few things to leave out to ensure your bridge is not too heavy:

  1. Personal Information: Omit personal details such as age, marital status, gender, and a photograph, as they are typically not relevant to your qualifications.
  2. Irrelevant Work Experience: Exclude work experience that is not relevant to the job you’re applying for, especially if it’s from a long time ago or unrelated to your career goals.
  3. Salary History: Avoid mentioning your current or past salary information on your resume. This can be discussed during interviews or negotiations.
  4. References: Do not include references on your resume. Instead, prepare a separate page for references and provide it only when requested by the employer.
  5. Objective Statements: Skip generic objective statements. Instead, opt for a professional summary or qualifications section that highlights your skills and career goals.
  6. Unrelated Hobbies: Unless they are directly related to the job, omit personal hobbies and interests from your resume.
  7. Negative Information: Avoid discussing reasons for leaving previous jobs, personal challenges, or any negative experiences. Maintain a positive tone.
  8. Outdated Skills: Exclude outdated or irrelevant technical skills or certifications that no longer apply to your career.
  9. Unprofessional Email Addresses: Use a professional email address for contact information, not casual or inappropriate ones.
  10. Excessive Details: Keep your resume concise and focused on key achievements and qualifications. Avoid lengthy paragraphs, excessive jargon, or irrelevant information.

Crafting an exceptional executive resume requires careful consideration of format, content, and design. By implementing these 10 essential tips, you can create a compelling resume that showcases your unique value, captures attention, and increases your chances of securing top-tier executive positions.

Invest the time and effort needed to optimize your resume, and watch as it opens doors to exciting new opportunities.

If you have any questions or need further career advice, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I am here to help!

 

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