Working your way up the career ladder has some serious benefits: more autonomy, a higher salary and better job opportunities, to name a few. At the same time, it comes with an increase in responsibilities, added pressure… and a résumé that runs out of space a little too fast. The latter is a nice problem to have, however!
If you’re unsure how to fit all of your skills, achievements and relevant information into one document, you’re at the right place. In this article, we’ll go over the dos and don’ts of the often-dreaded curriculum vitae to help you land the executive job you’ve got your eye on.
Without delay, let’s look at 10 executive résumé examples and some useful advice to get you started in creating your very own professional document.
In this article, we’ll be using the terms “CV” and “résumé” interchangeably. We cover academic CVs, which can be several pages long, in another article.
Executive résumé examples
Need some inspiration? The following section comprises 10 executive résumé samples — or CV samples, if you’re from across the pond — for you to look at.
1. Business manager
A business manager’s duties and responsibilities can vary significantly depending on their industry and the company they work for. Your résumé, then, should provide the hiring manager insight into what your past roles have encompassed and highlight any quantifiable achievements you’ve attained.
This template enables you to create a straightforward and visually clean résumé that includes everything you need: a personal summary, contact information, areas of expertise, technical and soft skills, work experience, and academic qualifications.
2. Chief executive officer
As a chief executive officer, your résumé should prioritize your experience within this role, as well as your accomplishments in your career thus far.
As an individual who has harnessed a lot of experience, your past roles, responsibilities and achievements should be the first thing a recruiter sees. Meanwhile, your education could be placed on the second page of your résumé, along with any other noteworthy information such as publications, memberships, certifications, skills and expertise.
As CEOs usually boast extensive work experience, their résumés tend to be packed with information, lengthy descriptions and chunks of text. As you can see, the template below follows a lean and straightforward structure, which allows recruiters to skim through information with ease while also retaining the most important details on your résumé.
3. Chief operating officer
There is no better COO résumé example than that of Sheryl Sandberg. The document captures her experience, expertise and greatest achievements in a single page by optimizing the space each section occupies and utilizing smart graphics.
What’s great about this résumé example is that Sandberg’s character shines through along with her professionalism. For example, her job title not only includes “COO” but also “Proud Mother & Women’s Rights Advocate”, creating a more personalized image of herself.
The “EXPERIENCE” and “MOST PROUD OF” sections, meanwhile, both encapsulate Sandberg’s professional journey by using quantifiable information rather than just a description of her duties. For example: “Led Facebook in revamping its mobile ads strategy, bringing in $8bn in revenue, 85% of Facebook’s total revenue to date.”
You don’t need to be Facebook’s chief operating officer to create an equally impressive résumé. The key here is to focus on your own professional achievements and incorporate them within the content of your résumé, along with your most noteworthy skills and characteristics.
4. Chief information officer
As the senior technology executive within a company, you oversee the organization’s security systems and IT operations. Therefore, you must prove to recruiters that you’re a tech-savvy individual, in sync with new technological developments in an ever-evolving industry.
Your résumé is also a good indication of this, so a modern and up-to-date layout will certainly help sway recruiters. The specific sample below is separated into two columns, making information more accessible while also maintaining work experience as the main focus.
It’s also worth mentioning how the personal summary is utilized in this example. Instead of stating generic objectives, Peter Smith uses this space to promote his skills and showcase his experience as CIO, which immediately creates a more impactful impression on the recruiter.
5. Marketing executive
This résumé sample is focused and to the point. The candidate not only utilizes her professional summary to talk about her professional experience, but also backs up her claims with valuable data: “Creating multiple Facebook Ad campaigns that generated $500k+ revenues and 700k views.”
The next section is strategically placed above the candidate’s work history, as it enables the recruiter to decipher the candidate’s suitability for a marketing executive role through her areas of expertise. The presentation is also much more comprehensible than the conventional bulleted lists often used to exhibit skills and specializations.
As you move down the work experience section, you can see that the candidate uses the given spaces to illustrate not just her duties but also her achievements in each role, once again emphasizing her prowess.
6. Chief financial officer
As a chief financial officer, your role involves overseeing the financial operations of an organization. It’s important, then, to present powerful, fiscal achievements within your résumé. That said, make sure that the content of your résumé isn’t overwhelmed by numbers and statistics. Remember: your application will be reviewed by both financial and non-financial recruiters, so it should be comprehensible to both.
In the template below, the candidate combines numerical data with wordier descriptions under each of their previous roles. This allows the recruiter to gain a more detailed insight into the candidate’s experience as well as their key achievements and responsibilities without financial jargon.
The template’s minimalist design also pairs well with the content, giving it a clean and polished look.
7. Vice president
Like CEOs, vice presidents tend to have a lot of experience to show off on their résumé.
You don’t necessarily need to use bullet points to summarize your duties and achievements. For example, this particular CV showcases the applicant’s experience and also captures her professional objectives and achievements throughout her profile, as well as in each job description.
This résumé template illustrates the person’s experience in great detail, but due to its simplistic and clean design, the information is digestible and easy to get through. The template’s monochromatic tone also makes it an elegant and professional choice for someone within an executive rank.
As a company founder, you need to ensure that your résumé captures your business acumen as well as your background knowledge. Founders usually have diverse educational backgrounds, so it’s also important to indicate your career journey thus far.
In this particular example, the two-column layout allows the applicant to showcase his technical skills, expertise and interests, all while featuring his work experience, personal summary and education.
What’s great about this design is that you can exhibit your suitability for an executive role in a single page, capturing the recruiter’s attention from the get-go.
9. HR officer
What’s unique about this résumé is that the candidate’s key areas of expertise and accomplishments appear before the work experience section. This is quite a wise move, as the applicant uses quantifiable data to make themselves stand out.
As for its design and résumé structure, the applicant’s information and work history are neatly presented throughout the document, while the dash of red font also creates a bold and prominent résumé. All these become factors which, when combined, can make a lasting impression on any recruiter.
10. Sales director
As a sales director, you’ll know the important role that presentation plays when it comes to sealing a deal. Well, the same rule also applies to your résumé.
This is a modern and fresh design that helps all the information within it to stand out.
This résumé sample not only encapsulates the person’s experience in a neat and straightforward manner, but it also highlights crucial key points about the candidate that are presumably tailored to the role’s requirements.
How long should an executive résumé be?
Before you write a CV, it’s good to keep in mind the length you should be aiming for. Since the term “résumé” comes from the French verb résumer, meaning “to summarize”, your document must be concise.
As an executive, your résumé needs to span two pages at most. However, if condensing all your information to cater to the two-page rule turns out to be impossible, consider making your résumé a little longer.
Should you include all your experience?
This is one of the most common questions among jobseekers. As a general rule, you should aim to go back about 10–15 years when listing your work experience.
Every rule has its exception, though. If — and we do emphasize the “if” — you held a particularly noteworthy position or worked at a well-known company more than a decade ago, feel free to take the hiring manager on a trip further into the past.
Where should you showcase your achievements?
A good CV comes with a list of achievements. A great CV, however, highlights an applicant’s accomplishments in more than one place.
To begin with, you’ll want to mention your accomplishments in the work experience section. Aside from a description of your responsibilities, you’ll want to mention what you accomplished in each role.
In addition, create a “Selected Accomplishments” section at the top of your CV, right beneath your professional summary.
Should you include hobbies?
Including hobbies and interests is a common practice for more inexperienced job applicants. The less work experience you have, the more relevant information about yourself you’ll need to add, so the hiring manager can paint a better picture of you. The same goes for career changers, who haven’t yet worked in a new field.
In your case, then, there won’t be a need (or any room) for hobbies and interests.
Should you list your GPA?
Does any high school information belong on a professional CV? The answer is that it depends.
Typically, you don’t need to mention your GPA or any other secondary education accomplishment if you’ve completed an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. So, if you’ve earned a bachelor’s degree or higher qualification, detail that instead.
To create the perfect executive résumé, you need to consider multiple factors. The information you decide to include, but also how you choose to present it, will play a major role in your application success. So, allow yourself plenty of time to outline your sections and get every detail right before sending off your application material.
- Keep your information relevant to the job listing. Your brief teaching experience from 15 years ago won’t matter when applying for a CFO position today, for example.
- Aim for two pages in length. Most executive résumés span two pages, but you can go a little over if you need more room.
- Dedicate a section to your accomplishments. Add this to the top of your résumé, just below your professional summary.
- Avoid sharing any personal details, as well as mentioning hobbies and any high school-related information. Your GPA won’t be relevant if you’ve gone on to attend higher education.
- Use the Internet to your advantage if you get stuck. Free CV templates and samples are great sources of inspiration and guidance.
Do you have any tips to share with other executives on how to create a CV that stands out? Join the conversation in the comments section.
Originally published on October 4, 2017. Contains contributions by Melina Theodorou.