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3 Secrets To A Powerhouse Executive Resume

3 Secrets To A Powerhouse Executive Resume

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You’re good at what you do… and with many years of experience, writing your executive resume should be easy. Right?

Related: 3 Ways Your Executive Resume Falls Flat

In a word, no. Writing about yourself and then formatting critical points into a condensed, potent story of your leadership acumen takes time and skill.

However, a few extra steps in summarizing your executive history WILL make a difference in how employers take notice of your strengths. Your competitors will be using a razor-sharp presentation and compelling leadership story – and you’ll need to do the same in order to stand out.

Set aside time, even in small increments, to gather the following pivotal pieces of information for use on your resume:

1. Accolades

A major part of your personal brand message, the feedback from others can reflect strengths you hadn’t thought to leverage.

Perhaps others have written glowing testimonials for you throughout your career, or you’ve collected letters of reference. Maybe you’re a champion at accumulating LinkedIn Recommendations.

If you’ve saved these testimonials, add a “sound bite” quote (shown prominently in this sample IT Director resume).

Even if you didn’t save proof of your feedback, there’s still ways to use the information. As shown in this example, you can mention an accolade, but focus primarily on the achievement behind it:

Commended by COO for reversing decline in Product Manufacturing unit, saving 32% in production costs by leading new Lean Six Sigma projects.

Going forward, be sure to note and retain all testimonials (whether anecdotal or formal), as this data will come in handy for updating your resume.

2. Metrics

Dollar figures, percentages, and other figures are the cornerstone of a powerful executive resume. Without quantifying your accomplishments, your resume will read just like anyone else’s, and fail to hit the right notes about your bottom-line contributions.

Try these simple methods to quantify achievements for use on your resume:

  • Jot down a brief outline of the top success stories from throughout your career.
  • Ask yourself questions about the results of each story, such as “How much money did we save?” or “What percentage of growth did the company experience during this period?”
  • Put figures to the size and scope of each achievement (size of teams, budgets managed, etc.)
  • Compare your results to what might have happened if you hadn’t been in the position. This analysis is particularly helpful in quantifying the ROI of your skills.

Now, add the quantifying data within the story itself:

Drove costs down 13% by instituting centralized purchasing system used in all global divisions.

Led and motivated teams to complete 3-year project against aggressive schedule, avoiding $400K in penalties and winning $2.4M in add-on client business.

Created database product that became flagship offering (accounting for 65% of the company’s revenue).

Even though you can (and should) flesh out these accomplishments in more detail, getting the basic outline in place will help jog your memory and lead to other quantifiable aspects of each success story.

3. Presentation

It can’t be stated enough: a plain, old-school looking resume will often reflect badly on an executive candidate. If you wouldn’t deliver a presentation without some flash, then don’t let your resume suffer, either!

Borders, a touch of color, or graphs showing achievement have their place in an executive resume. In a conservative field, you’ll want to stick with a minimal level of color in various places.

However, a resume destined for use in a dynamic and innovative industry (social media marketing, CPG sales, etc.) can benefit from a shot of something different.

This sample CEO and COO resume uses shading, a chart of revenue and profit performance, and a dash of color to break up the text and provide more interest.

In summary, today’s executive resume demands strategic planning, research, and dynamic formatting to avoid being mistaken for the career obituary of years past.

To compete at a leadership level, you’ll need to take extra steps to produce a powerhouse document, complete with strong content and an engaging presentation to tell your story.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock


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Laura Smith-Proulx Laura Smith-Proulx, Executive Director of An Expert Resume, is a resume industry leader, 13-time global TORI resume award winner, LinkedIn expert, author, personal brand strategist, and former recruiter with 20+ years of experience winning choice jobs for executives and rising leaders.