When you are in the hot seat for a new job, employers, hiring managers, and recruiters all want to know the same thing—what can you offer? For senior-level professionals, your quantifiable, high-impact accomplishments give companies a snapshot of your unique tangible value. So, if your executive resume lacks the WOW factor, you are not doing a great job of marketing yourself.
In order to take a career accomplishment from average to outstanding, you need to set the stage for the reader. For example: Increased annual sales 25% in 2006. At first glance, this accomplishment appears impressive, however, there are several questions that should be addressed.
What was the sales growth prior to 2006, what actions or activities directly impacted the company’s sales or was the company going through any changes/transitions during 2006? The answer to one or more of these questions can cast a whole new light on the original accomplishment statement.
How To Create An Effective Executive Resume
Creating attention-getting accomplishments for your executive resume takes careful thought and employing strategic use of a tried and true formula—Challenge-Action-Results.
Step 1: C Is For Challenge
Take the reader through the circumstances that led to the accomplishment; describe what was going on the industry or company during a specific time period. Indicate whether you were tasked with obtaining specific goals or corporate objectives. A corporate challenge expressed on an executive resume may look like one of these:
- Tasked with delivering 10% return on $700 million investment portfolio in unpredictable real estate industry.
- Charged with reducing installation costs which peaked at 20% higher above industry norm and boosting operational efficiencies by 15%.
- Hand-picked by CEO to increase profitability, improve eroding market share and repair strained customer relationships.
Step 2: A Is For Actions Or Action Steps
Your strategy here is to show employers the extent of your leadership capabilities and problem-solving skills; discuss what new initiatives you implemented or innovative methods you employed. The key is not to overwhelm the reader with minor details, but make sure to give a good overview of what steps you took to achieve the desired outcome. A few good examples of action step sentences include:
- Recruited, assembled, and trained top-performing sales team and utilized word-of-mouth marketing strategy to build client base and generate consistent revenue stream.
- Led transition team and orchestrated all facets of corporate acquisition including financial analysis, revenue projections, valuation and pricing, and bid submission process.
Step 3: R Is For Results
Were you successful and what was the bottom-line impact of your actions? Summarize the highlights and main points of each accomplishment into one or two sentences. Write your career accomplishments in a format that quantifies the results and provides direct evidence of your core competencies and qualifications. The accomplishment statements below demonstrate how to capture powerful results:
- Executed ardent negotiations and implemented innovative investment strategies which grew investment portfolio from $500,000 to $3 million in just two years.
- Created “first-of-its-kind” technology company to offer complete suite of IT solutions instead of a-la carte services; new strategy helped increase market share 20%.
Executive resumes have to be succinct, concise and be able to pass the 60-second test. Regardless of how remarkable your quantifiable results may be, they lose their impact if placed at the end of a sentence. If we took the same examples used in Step 3 and revised them, they would appear like this:
- Grew investment portfolio from $500,000 to $3 million in two years by executing ardent negotiations and implementing innovative investment strategies.
- Increased market share 20% by creating “first-of-its-kind” technology company to offer complete suite of IT solutions instead of a-la carte services.
Remember that C-A-R stories are critical on executive resumes, leadership profiles and achievement summaries; they also work well as practice material for interview preparation.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock