Though most people are familiar with the standard format for a professional resume, job candidates who wish to hold C-suite positions should take a different approach to create an executive-level CV. Listed below are eight helpful do’s and don’ts that can assist you in the creation of an effective executive resume.
Do create a strong headline.
The people who screen executive resumes will look for a strong title at the top of the CV. The title on your resume should reflect the type of position that interests you, using keywords that are relevant to the role for which you are applying, such as “sales leader” or “advertising executive.” Having the correct, relevant job title at the top of your CV helps give recruiters an impression of the type of professional you are and what you’re looking for. It also makes it less likely that you will be overlooked during the initial screening process.
Don’t include an objective statement.
Objective statements are an outdated resume element that you should avoid if you want to be seen as in touch with modern business practices. The top of an executive resume is arguably the most important portion of the document, as it’s often the only chance you get to pique a recruiter’s interest in you as a candidate. In place of an objective statement, opt for an executive statement—such a statement gives you the opportunity to give a brief overview of your major career achievements and state any skills you possess that are highly relevant to the C-suite position in question.
Do write concisely.
Whether you’re writing your executive summary or working to explain a previous position, always strive to be concise. Many people try to use big, unusual words or long, run-on sentences in an effort to convey a higher degree of professionalism. However, this can end up having the opposite effect—it can make you sound “junior” and as if you’re trying too hard to appear clever.
In the same vein, there’s no need to delve into the minute details of every aspect of a previous job—responsibilities generally held by all management professionals are a given in most cases. Remember that “less as more,” and try not to mention any responsibility without the accomplishments that came as a direct result of your actions.
Don’t include the wrong personal information.
As with the objective statement, another outdated resume feature that some executive-level job candidates still make the mistake of including is a physical address. Including a general location, such as the “Chicago, Illinois area” will suffice in almost all cases. However, make a point of including a phone number where you can be reached at any time of day, as well as your email address. Apart from these two items, everything else you include on your executive CV should be professional. Leave out personal interests, marital status, religious affiliations, and hobbies. Unless they’re relevant to the position for which you’re applying, they don’t belong on your CV.
Do ensure your CV is the right length.
Many job candidates are under the impression that resumes should not be longer than a page, but this isn’t necessarily true if you are applying for a C-suite position. A great executive CV will be neither too short, nor too long. Most professionals agree that the ideal length is about two pages, except if you’re applying for executive positions in highly regulated or complex fields like healthcare, IT, or academia, which may require a longer resume.
On the first page, feature your executive summary and highlight your most impressive professional accomplishments, including your most relevant recent job. Use the second page to give a more succinct overview of your related work experience. Overall, try to make sure that your resume is clear and easy to read. Additionally, be sure to only include jobs on your CV that demonstrate skills you could potentially use in the position for which you’re applying.
Don’t use lackluster words and phrases.
Repeating phrases like “was responsible for” and “managed” throughout your resume may dilute your brand as an executive candidate and leave recruiters unimpressed. Show your value by using more energetic words and discussing your job responsibilities in the context of results and returns instead of giving a boring overview of your responsibilities. Show vitality through strong word choice and more action-oriented job descriptions.
Do be truthful.
No matter how interested you are in a C-level position, resist any inclination you may have to falsely advertise your experience or abilities. Be truthful and only include facts in your resume. This also applies to the way that you present yourself when describing your skillsets. Avoid vague language such as “excellent communicator” or “highly motivated”—these terms are clichés and therefore carry little meaning. Instead, let your excellent communication skills and motivation come across in your interview.
Don’t ignore the importance of formatting.
Some recruiters would argue that your resume’s format is as important as the actual experience listed within the document. Opt for a clean, consistent format with a professional font. Make sure that the resume first and foremost draws attention to your professional accomplishments, and that a recruiter doesn’t have to work hard to identify the factors that make you a good candidate. Advertise the core skills that make you qualified for the position and state your career goals clearly.