It is no secret that executives wield immense power and influence within an organization. Every level of business leader can impact organizational performance, which means every executive can bring a business success — or failure. Thus, when businesses are considering candidates for available executive positions, they tend to scrutinize application materials, looking closely at the details of an applicant’s employment and education experience to understand whether they are qualified for the responsibilities they may acquire.
You might recognize the statistic about hiring managers devoting only about six seconds to reviewing a resume — and regardless of the veracity of that claim, it simply does not apply in the case of executive resumes. When you start applying for executive positions, you need to be sure that your resume meets and exceeds the expectations of the hiring team. Here are a few tips for crafting an executive resume that can help you secure the leadership position you are hoping for.
Executive Resume Structure
An executive resume needs to communicate quite a lot of essential information about you in quite a small amount of space. Like other resumes, an executive resume should be limited to about a single page or as close to one page as you can achieve. Thus, to ensure that you include all the information you need to in a comprehensible format, you need to follow the typical executive resume structure, which is as follows:
Contact information. You want the hiring team to find it easy to contact you. In the Digital Age, your contact information should include your name, mobile phone number and email address. Other forms of contact, like your mailing address or your social media, are unprofessional.
Executive summary. Replacing the dead and useless resume objective, an executive summary placed at the top of your resume communicates your value proposition to prospective employers. The summary should break down which of your qualifications make you the perfect fit for your target job, so the hiring team can understand and appreciate your value from the start. You might organize your summary into a bulleted list of four or five points, to keep the summary short and effective.
Core proficiencies. In this section, you should hit all the keywords the hiring team is looking for in their next executive. If you have a job description available to you, you should repurpose some of the stated requirements for the role in this section, and include other often mandatory proficiencies for executives such as employee development, change management, process reengineering, global strategy, etc.
Career highlights. By the time you reach the executive level, you have enjoyed a long career filled with laudable accomplishments — but you do not need to list every position and achievement on your resume. Instead, you should break your employment history section down into highlights that are pertinent to your target role. Of particular importance might be continuing education courses, like executive education online, which demonstrate your commitment to ongoing improvement of knowledge and skill.
Technical skills. The final section of your resume should include any hard skills you believe to be valuable to your target position. Often, these do not need much clarification, so you can list them in bullet form without dedicating much space to explanation.
Optional sections. If your career history includes any of the following experiences, which tend to be highly regarded in business leadership circles, you might include some information about them:
- Board memberships, which provide prestige and credibility.
- Professional affiliations, which can leverage the power of your network.
- Certifications, which demonstrate your core proficiencies and technical skills.
- Community involvement, which can show alignment with the company’s core values.
Keeping your executive resume fresh is key to reaching new and more enviable positions within business leadership. Though you might be considered for a role thanks to networking or recruitment efforts, you need a document that proves your aptitude in your professional space. An executive resume should tell hiring teams who you are and what you are capable of in the best possible light; it is a marketing document that, when properly executed, will open the professional doors of your dreams.