Once you’re ready to apply for an executive-level job, you’ve probably written your fair share of resumes over the years. Therefore, you may feel that you know everything about crafting the best resume to get your foot in the door - and maybe you do. However, getting an executive-level job requires more than a cookie-cutter resume template.
Similar to resumes for entry-level and mid-career jobs, executive resumes are designed to show hiring managers that you’re the best person for the job. But once you hit this level in your career, you’ll need to adhere to a slightly different format.
Here are five guidelines for building an impressive executive resume.
#1. Personal Information
Begin your executive resume with your personal information. This information should take up no more than five or six lines. Start with your full name, followed by your address, and city and state on the next line. List your home and cell phone number on the fourth and fifth line, and your email address on the sixth line. As a rule of thumb, select a professional email address.
#2. Professional Profile/Summary
Once you’ve reached this level of your career, "objective statements" are no longer sufficient. Hiring managers prefer a well-written summary or professional profile that relates key accomplishments, achievements and skills. In other words, a snapshot of what makes you different from every other qualified applicant. This is your opportunity to show off your skills and sell yourself -- don’t be modest. The truth is you only have one opportunity to convince a hiring manager to continue reading your resume.
The format for the summary or professional profile is simple. Rather than a paragraph, use a bullet list format to highlights accomplishments, qualities, special skills, and anything else you bring to the table.
Sample summary/professional profile section: (source: St. Edward’s University Career Services)
- MBA candidate with over seven years experience in operations management and financial planning/lending seeks challenging ...
- Success at providing oversight and effective leadership to complex projects
- Effective communicator who relates well to diverse groups of people at all levels within an organization
- Persuasive, articulate individual who easily meets people and quickly engenders trust and confidence
- Acumen for building and sustaining relationships by providing exceptional customer service
- Proven team leader adept at prioritizing, delegating, and motivating employees
- Ability to multi-task and complete time sensitive projects
- Strong administrative skills, including budgeting, project management and customer and vendor relationships
#3. Professional Experience
The experience or work section of an executive resume includes more details than an entry-level or mid-career resume. Not only should you provide detailed information about your current and previous employers (description, industry, number of employees, revenue, etc.), the duties section under each position should only include key responsibilities and achievements.
Begin with your most recent employer and type the name of the company. In parentheses next to the company’s name, include dates of employment. Directly underneath, provide a brief one-sentence description of the company. What does the company do? What is the industry? How many employees work for the company? What was the annual revenue?
Next, list your job position and the company’s location, followed by a bullet list highlighting responsibilities and achievements. Use present tense when describing your current duties, and past tense for previous positions. Avoid adjectives, if possible, and use examples and data to highlight achievements. Continue this format for each entry in your experience section. And since it’s customary for executive resumes to be two or three pages long, don’t be afraid to include all relevant work experience.
Sample professional experience section: (source: Alder Koten Institute)
ACME, INC. (November 1998 – Present) Acme Inc. is a global manufacturer of road runner hunting equipment including dynamite, traps, and wood crates with over 10,000 employees worldwide and revenues of 1.2 billion USD.
Business Manager - Shanghai, China
- Provide operational leadership, direct capital creation efforts, identify business opportunities and spearhead strategic global expansion and growth plans.
- Negotiate distribution/licensing transactions, establish joint ventures/strategic alliances with Tier 1 suppliers, and interface with private and institutional investors, stockholders, debt-holders and investment bankers.
- The position reports to the Country Managing Director and Manages 4 direct and 120 indirect reports.
#4. Education and Training
Even at this level in your career, hiring managers are interested in degrees held. Therefore, do not leave this information off your executive resume. Below your professional experience, list the name of the college or university and the degree(s) earned. With regard to training, only include certifications or credentials relevant to the position. Adhere to the same format.
#5. Professional Memberships
Do you belong to any organizations such as the Project Management Institute, the American Society of Public Administration, etc., or perhaps sit on a board of directors? Using a bullet list, include professional memberships, followed by any titles or offices held.
The way you craft an executive resume influences whether you’re able to take your career to the next level. At the end of the day, this isn’t the time to be shy or modest. With other candidates vying for the same position, you need to stand out and strongly convey your qualifications.