Resume Writing Tips for Executives

Being prepared with an up to date resume is great insurance - for both planned and unexpected changes in your career

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After dedicating almost a decade of his professional life to one organization, where he climbed the corporate ladder from his initial managerial roles all the way up to a VP-level position, Jim Price found himself at a crucial crossroads. For nine long years, he had remained firmly ensconced within the safety of his familiar employer, growing both personally and professionally, and he had come to identify his fortunes with those of the company. However, troubling rumors began circulating in the corporate grapevine, hinting at a potential acquisition of his employer by another entity from the same industry.

These whispers of an impending merger, especially given the fact that his employer was destined to be the smaller partner in this corporate union, gave rise to disquieting speculations. Foremost among them was the concern that there would be considerable overlap in job functions, including Jim’s own. He couldn’t shake off the feeling that his department would not be immune from the seemingly inevitable sweeping job cuts that would follow in the wake of the merger.

Rather than passively accepting the looming uncertainty, Jim decided to take proactive measures to safeguard his professional future. His initial course of action was to start scanning the job market landscape, hoping to gain insights into the opportunities that might align with his unique skill set and vast experience in the field. This exploration yielded a promising list of potential employers who would value the strategic capabilities he could bring to the table.

However, there was one obstacle that stood between Jim and these promising new beginnings: his outdated resume. Years of comfortable stability had resulted in a document that had gathered metaphorical dust, no longer reflecting the depth and breadth of his professional accomplishments. His original resume which had collected some serious dust, the one he had used to secure his current position, now seemed woefully insufficient and glaringly outdated.

Aware that he needed to revamp his personal branding, Jim decided to dive headfirst into the task of crafting a contemporary, impactful resume. He began his journey by trawling through the internet for current best practices, formats, and powerful words that make a resume stand out. Simultaneously, he immersed himself in the pages of a number of authoritative books, seeking wisdom on how to encapsulate his extensive professional journey into a single, compelling document. The task seemed immense, but Jim was determined not to be left behind in the competitive job market.

Here are some of the tips he discovered and used to produce an impressive resume:

Presentation:

Your aim is to look professional. Do not use graphics or unusual colors of paper or ink. Stick to neutral ivory, white or grey paper (you’ll be emailing it more often than not anyway) with a clear font such as Times Roman, Arial, or Sans Serif. Boxes or lines can be used sparingly to separate areas within the resume.

Check your grammar and spelling. Twice. And then check it again.

Using a free service such as Grammarly (www.grammarly.com) can help you to eliminate grammar errors.  Paying attention to the red lines that automatically come up on any word processing spell check is a fast and easy way to make sure your attention to detail isn’t questioned due to basic spelling errors. For extra insurance ask someone to proofread it before you send it out.

Format:

There are many possible formats that you could choose from. Here is a description of each resume type to give you an idea of what each type has to offer.

  1. Chronological Resume: This is the most common type and it lists the executive’s work history in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent job first. It focuses on a timeline of work experience, with the goal of showing a steady career progression.
  2. Functional Resume: This type emphasizes skills and abilities over chronological work history. It is useful for executives who have a variety of experiences across different industries or who have had a large gap in their employment.
  3. Combination Resume: This type is a blend of chronological and functional formats. It highlights skills and abilities at the top of the resume, followed by a chronological listing of work history.
  4. Targeted Resume: This resume is tailored specifically for a particular position or company. It emphasizes the skills and experiences that are most relevant to the job for which the executive is applying.
  5. Executive Bio: While technically not a resume, an executive biography is a narrative of an executive’s career, showcasing their career trajectory, key accomplishments, leadership philosophy, and personal brand. This type is usually used on company websites, in speaking engagements, or in publications.
  6. LinkedIn Profile: Again, not a traditional resume, but in the modern job market, a LinkedIn profile plays a vital role. It can serve as a resume, showcasing the executive’s work history, skills, endorsements, and professional network.
  7. Infographic Resume: An innovative type that showcases information and data visually, making it easy to understand an executive’s career journey and achievements at a glance. It’s not typically used alone, but it can be a good supplement to a traditional resume, especially in creative or tech-forward fields.
  8. CV (Curriculum Vitae): While more common in academic and research fields, some executives might also use a CV, particularly if they have a background in academia or a long list of publications, presentations, awards, and so forth.

How to make it easy on the Hiring Manager’s eyes:

Do not cram too much information on the page.

The individual selecting potential candidates may have reviewed many resumes, leaving enough white space allows the important information to be clear and noticeable on the initial scan of your resume. When providing a hard copy of your resume ensure that the printer you are using is good quality. If using an email version use a standard current program that can be opened readily, such as Word. Use a font size of 10 or 12. Do not try and fit more information on the page by decreasing the font size. You will make the reviewer want to stop reading if they are getting eye strain.

Keep the paragraphs short and to the point.

Use Bold font to highlight headings of categories. Use bullets to offset individual points. Think about your format from a reviewer’s standpoint. Make it easy on the eyes so that the most important information gets across. Important Technicalities (spelling and grammar): Pay attention to your spelling and grammar. Use spell check and grammar check, proofread it yourself, and then have it proofread by several other people. A resume with spelling and grammar errors will stop you from getting an interview. The resume is an introduction to you and your work; you do not want to make a bad first impression.

Content:

When listing your former positions include the information the reviewer needs – and don’t sell yourself short.

You know how big your former employers were and what they produced, but don’t assume the reviewer does. You should name the company, location, years worked with the company, the size, and what the company did. Following that, describe the responsibilities of the role and finally highlight important achievements (use figures, percentages, quantifiable results) that you had while in that position. You do not have to list all the jobs that you have held. Go back only to the most recent and relevant positions. You do not have to list jobs that were held fifteen or twenty years ago, especially if they have no relevance to the position at hand.

Focus:

Begin the resume with a brief summary of who you are as a professional.

Selling:

Put some work into selling your accomplishments.

Just listing your function or title will not let the reviewer know why you are the best at what you do. You will need to distinguish yourself by drilling down to what you have done to make yourself marketable in your field.

Say what you did and how you did it well. Think about your past roles and challenges in a results-oriented fashion. Prove that you did it well by listing the results. For example: Managed and directed a staff of 25 to increase sales at the location by 200%, resulting in a growth of 10 million from the 1st to the third quarter. Launched a new marketing program in the Mid-West Market accounting for a 142% increase in new orders within the target market. Launched a new Workplace Health and Safety Program and weekly staff meetings reducing Workplace injuries by 22% within the first year of the program.

 

Recommended Resources

If you need help preparing your resume there are plenty of resources available to help.

Books on Resume Writing:

We found this great article on the 20 Best CV and Resume Books of All Time and it’s always a no-brainer to recommend the classic What Color Is Your Parachute? by RICHARD N. BOLLES which is “ONE OF THE ALL-TIME 100 BEST NONFICTION BOOKS” — according to TIME.

Home » Career Articles » Resume Writing Tips for Executives

Resume Building Resources:

There are many resume builders and writers to choose from. We hold Resume.io in high esteem due to its streamlined interface, effective resume-building features, and handy built-in tracking function. Alternatively, you can find a professional resume writer to update your resume and position you for success, one choice is TopStack Resume, which has good reviews and a reasonable pricing model.

Resume builders play a pivotal role in distinguishing your resume from the crowd, a necessity considering that your resume serves as an employer’s initial and potentially only impression of you. Given the ever-evolving methods that employers utilize to collect candidate data, it’s paramount to display a meticulously crafted, professional snapshot of your qualifications and skills, enhancing the likelihood of transforming an application into an interview and, hopefully, securing a job.

Increasing numbers of job seekers are leveraging resume builders to gain an advantage, particularly when it comes to appealing layouts, relevant keywords, and eye-catching design. We’ve compiled this guide to the finest resume builders to assist you in selecting one that perfectly fits your needs. For more comprehensive aid, you might want to explore resume writing services like TopResume, which provides a free review of your resume.

Just starting out in your executive job search? Check out our other articles on Career and Job Search and our recommended Job boards.