Powerfully written, superior-quality executive resumes—those that clearly position job seekers as must-have leaders in their field—contain specific language that distinguishes candidates at a high career level.
If you’re frustrated with a lack of response from employers, it might be time to take a closer look at your own resume for comparison.
Here are the secrets behind the best executive resumes that win attention for premier positions – along with corrective tips for bringing your own resume up to par in today’s job market:
1. They avoid resorting to mid-career language.
By the time you’ve reached at least the Director or C-suite level, “highly motivated,” “proven ability,” or “results-oriented” aren’t going to cut it anymore.
Not only are you up against candidates that are portrayed in stronger terms, but this type of language shows employers you’re struggling to articulate your personal brand and executive qualifications.
A better strategy? Wrap a signature achievement into each statement or paragraph—allowing you to demonstrate your value proposition more clearly.
The following example illustrates mid-career phrasing within a CTO resume summary:
“CTO with strong track record in technology software product development and proven ability to build high-performance teams in international locations. Work closely with executives on strategies for entering new markets.”
Here is the same information, but with an executive slant:
“CTO and executive team collaborator supplying technical and new-market insight behind 240% growth in 18 months. Foster tight-knit cultures (despite globally dispersed teams), increasing productivity while retaining 100% of technical talent.”
The second example includes just one additional word, but the metrics and strength of the language clearly position the candidate as an executive leader.
Need some ideas and examples of executive-level language to create the best executive resume possible? Try performing an Internet search on “best executive resume examples” to get a feel for the phrasing, tone, and presentation styles that win interviews.
2. They quickly demonstrate leadership impact at the company level.
Reaching an executive or Director-level role is a career game-changer, requiring your focus to shift from your department to the strategic direction of the company.
Yet, many executives write a resume as if their function is isolated and has little effect on the rest of the firm.
Case in point: This CFO resume that contains a sentence that describes taking on the IT functions of a company, using only the tactical details:
“Maintained facilities, offsite storage, and software licensing to support company investment in IT and communications systems.”
In reality, these systems played a crucial part in accelerating the company’s growth, and the more relevant statement looks like this:
“Set stage for growth with IT automation solutions; managed first infrastructure, vendor, and solutions used in HR, tax accounting, and regulatory filings.”
As another example, consider this phrase on an IT Director resume:
“Held responsibility for the strategic direction and leadership of the enterprise architecture.”
Using a whole-company perspective, however, changes the tone of the sentence:
“Headed IT enterprise architecture strategy that positioned company for expansion, leading infrastructure improvements and upgrades supplying 34% additional network capacity.”
These changes illustrate how your executive resume can illustrate your effect at a company level, instead of just focusing on the tactical duties required of your position.
3. They use metrics to describe leadership achievements.
Quantifiable figures are a critical component of the best executive resumes. Without them, the resume is more difficult for recruiters to interpret—especially when it comes to understanding the impact of a candidate’s leadership at a company level.
Not sure where to start in adding figures to your resume? Look for phrases used in lieu of a figure, such as “significantly” or “substantially.” These words can often be replaced with a dollar amount, percentage, or range of numbers.
At a minimum, review your executive resume for these figures, which help to quantify the scope of your work:
- Size of teams or budgets managed
- Division or company specifications in terms of volume of employees or revenue
- Market rank for your employer in a particular segment, if prominent
- Increases in EBITDA or profit margins
- Contract or cost savings
If you’ve made changes to operational efficiency or productivity, you can add these results in either percentages or time savings.
In addition, you may have spearheaded major projects, such as data center consolidations or Six Sigma initiatives, that illustrate your ability to lead strategic change.
If you can’t recall (or don’t wish to disclose) specific dollar figures, consider using percentages to quantify accomplishments.
For example, you may have led a change in hiring practices that saved 15% per employee.
You’ll find that adding metrics to demonstrate your executive impact will make a significant difference, helping hiring managers to see the extent of your leadership experience.
So, if you’re job search seems to be taking too long, compare your writing to the best executive resumes presented by interview-winning candidates.
You’ll find there are straightforward ways to strengthen the tone and presentation of your resume, enabling you to project more confidence and move forward faster in landing the right leadership role.
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