Executive Resume Tips from Executive Recruiters
C-suite professionals and executive leaders with experienced careers can have trouble condensing their achievements and career highlights into one document especially if they have held a number of executive positions in different industries, departments, or types of companies.
For this reason, it is common for senior executives to have trouble telling a compelling and concise story on their resume.
“Make it short and sweet. No one wants to receive a 4-page+ resume.” Kelsey Mayo, Talent Associate, Keynote Search
Not only is talking about yourself in an approachable and results-oriented manner, to add an additional layer of complexity for executives creating or updating their resume, there is a need to be cognizant of what keywords to include to get past the screening of applicant tracking systems (ATS).
Given the current market for c-suite and executive-level hiring, there is fierce competition for a smaller number of roles. It is important that your resume stands out to executive recruiters.
Here are some tips to help you with your next executive application and position yourself as a top contender for the role.
Include links to your LinkedIn profile and/or website
The majority of executive level candidates have a LinkedIn profile and/or professional website. These additional profiles and sites should compliment your resume and help you showcase who you are and tell your story through a strong personal and professional brand. The objective is to forge deeper connections with executive recruiters and hiring managers for consideration as to being a “fit” with the company’s culture and values. Check out our blog “7 Dos & Don’ts to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile” with tips from our executive recruiters themselves on what they look for. 100% of our executive recruiters at Keynote Search will look up qualified candidates online after reviewing a resume.
Make sure the messaging on your resume and LinkedIn profile and/or website are consistent with the same keywords and tone.
“What really stands out to me on a resume is the fluidity and clarity of the information. It makes things much easier for executive recruiters to get a better understanding of your full profile.” – Olivia Pfeffer, Talent Associate, Keynote Search
Your career highlights or achievements should be at the top of your resume
Showcase the best moments in your career right away. Ladders Inc. unveiled in an eye-tracking study in 2018, that recruiters spend an average of 7.4 seconds on an initial scan of a resume. For that reason, it is essential for executive recruiters to grasp right away what direct impacts you have had on organizations and your performance highlights through tangible results. This may include education and certification highlights, media exposure, awards, experience, etc.
“The most common mistake I see on executive resumes is the use of too much detail. It is difficult to understand the context of your successes in paper format. By highlighting the key skills and accomplishments it helps us see your strengths and contributions to your previous roles.” – Christine Colverson, Talent Associate, Keynote Search
Use metric-driven messaging
Stray away from vague statements and activities that you performed and rephrase them to start with a metric or quantifiable result. As an example, a Chief Marketing Officer may want to change “responsible for creating and driving a digital marketing strategy to drive leads”, to showcase the results “117% increase in lead generation with a conversion rate of 30% while achieving an ROI of 512% through a new digital marketing strategy.” Leading bullet points with metrics drives home your achievements first to the reader and gets straight to the point.
“One of the most common mistakes I see on executive resumes is too much information and outlining of tasks. It is good to include what you do but support it with achievements.” – Donna Baker, Managing Partner, Keynote Search
As an executive use numbers where possible to truly represent your valuable contributions. Illustrate examples of the results and success a company could achieve with you in a leadership role. Executive recruiters and hiring managers are looking for impact and previous successes. You are not likely to be hired for an executive role for simply having been responsible and performing previous activities. They hire professionals that know how to drive revenues, growth, cost-savings, process improvements, etc. in their roles.
“Showcase your ability to execute and provide tangible examples of your impact and success. Give context to this data in terms of organization descriptions including size, sector and markets.” – James Baker, CEO, Keynote Search
Guide priorities based on the job description or desired profile for the role
What should you put in your resume and what should you omit? You have a limited amount of space on a resume to impress the executive recruiter or hiring manager. Maximize the most out of each section by jotting down the important skills or traits that they are actually looking for in a candidate. By combing through the job description you will identify key aspects to the role and focus on how your skills and experience aligns to these points. By doing so, you won’t waste any space on your resume that is not directly related to what they are looking for in a candidate.
Going back to the CMO example, not every CMO role will be identical so your resume should adapt for each role you are applying for. Some may put a larger focus on mentorship and leading a team, others may focus more on marketing and sales integrations, and some may rely more on strategic and creative concepts. Get a full understanding of the role and come back to the key priorities for each section in your resume.
“One of the most common mistakes I have seen is using one resume to apply for all job postings. It needs to be as relevant as possible and every role is unique.” – Yue Cao, Controller, Keynote Search
Use these tips to help draft a stronger resume and tell your story to showcase the best of you that is the most relevant for the role you are applying for.