5 Tips to Write an Effective Executive Resume

Are you looking to create the best executive resume for your job search? You’ve come to the right place. Crafting an executive resume is unlike any other resume.

Entry-level job seekers focus on soft skills. Mid-career professionals focus on hyper-niche experiences. Executive resumes are unique because their focus combines niche experiences and leadership soft-skills.

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No other type of resume requires such an intricate balance of hard and soft skills like executive resumes.

To save you time, we’ve worked with a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Executive Resume Expert to craft what we believe to be the 5 most important tips for writing an effective executive resume.

1.   Review Other Executive Resume Samples

Before getting started on your executive resume, it’s important to lay the foundation. As we mentioned earlier, executive resumes aren’t like other resumes. It’s not just the content that is different. The actual resume design and format will also be different.

Executives should not include pictures on their resume. They should not include various different bright colors either. This doesn’t mean that your resume has to be boring. There are simply better ways to present yourself as an executive.

Take a look at some sample executive resumes before you begin to craft your own. Using resume samples from credible sources can help you tremendously when formatting and designing your resume.

2.   Highlight Your Leadership Abilities

When you are applying for executive positions, your future employer is going to want to assess your leadership abilities. If you want to be competitive for an executive job, you’ll want to prove that you have what it takes to manage and lead a team.

Since your resume is the first thing anyone will see, it’s important that your resume highlights your leadership skills front and center.

There are many different leadership skills to choose from. Make sure that you focus on the leadership skills that seem most applicable to the job you are applying for.

Some common leadership skills include:

  • Active Listening
  • Mentoring
  • Team Building
  • Risk Management
  • Inspiring
  • Innovative
  • Trustworthy
  • Confident
  • Visionary
  • Public Speaking

These skills should also be customized to meet the needs of each individual application. We’ll take more on that in the next section.

3.   Customize Your Resume for the Job

You’ve probably heard it said that you should customize your resume for every job you apply to. Despite hearing this, you’ve probably ignored the advice. And for a good reason. Customizing your resume for every single job can be extremely time-consuming.

Don’t worry. There are ways to do this that require very little time and effort.

When customizing your resume you shouldn’t try to edit the entire resume for every job. There are two main sections of your resume that you will want to focus on.

  1. The target job title at the top of the resume.
  2. The key skills/areas of expertise section on your resume.

If you don’t have a target job title or key skills section near the top of your resume, you need to go back to tip #1 above and review the resume samples.

The target job title should be at the top of your resume right below your contact information. You should customize this title to match the exact title of whatever job you are applying to.

If the job you are applying to is a “Vice President of Sales Operations” then your resume should say “Vice President of Sales Operations”. Simple as that.

The key skills/areas of expertise section should also be customized. Review the job description and see if you can find any common keywords. If they continuously mention “healthcare expertise” or “budgeting” then your resume should also mention these things.

4.   Ensure Your Resume is ATS Compliant

Applicant Tracking System (ATS) compliance is a huge topic of debate. Many believe that if your resume is not ATS compliant, you will automatically be rejected for the job without ever being seen by the recruiter or hiring manager.

For obvious reasons, this could be a huge problem. If you are working with a professional to write your resume, make sure they provide you with an ATS compliant resume.

One clear giveaway that your resume is not ATS compliant is if your resume has fancy graphics, charts, or icons. Anything other than plain text on your resume is likely going to cause issues with applicant tracking systems.

If you are more of a DIY-er, and you plan to write your own resume, check out this guide on how to make an ATS compliant resume.

5.   Ask for Feedback from Your Peers

Once you’ve completed at least a first draft of your resume, it’s time to get some feedback. LinkedIn is a great tool for connecting with professionals in your line of work.

Ideally, you will already have a few friends or business acquaintances that are in similar jobs like the one you are targeting. But if not, that’s ok too.

Reach out to a few people and get feedback on your resume. Ask them if they’d hire you if you were applying for an “X position”. If they say your resume looks fantastic, that’s a good sign.

Tell them to be as critical as possible. Oftentimes your friends will not want to hurt your feelings. Don’t share your resume with those people! In order to improve, you will need brutally honest feedback.

We are looking for actionable takeaways here, not positive affirmations.

Interesting Related Article: “How to choose the Best Resume Format in 2020