Writing a resume for an executive position

Posted October 13, 2011, by Elizabeth Fenech

Not all jobs are created equal. An executive position demands great responsibility so an executive resume must demonstrate that you've got the gumption to deliver the skills and savvy required to carry a company.

Job seeking requires you to get a grip on the competition. Your resume needs to be of the highest calibre because you can guarantee that that of your competitors will be.

Getting started

Executive resumes need to be clear and focused. Think about which skills and attributes your prospective employer would value the most, then tailor the details you include to demonstrate that you are uniquely qualified to meet those needs. The information should be thorough and use a professional tone. Use a layout that is easy to read; most executive resumes use Times New Roman font and a balanced amount of white space.

The executive profile

The executive profile should be short and hard-hitting, a sort of advertisement to set the tone for the rest of your resume and encourage the reader to read on. Include your strongest attributes and most valuable achievements here. For example, a finance executive's profile might say, 'An accomplished tax executive with a strong grounding in international taxation and global finance. Has had extensive experience with three of the largest international accounting firms and is a long-term board member of Australian Taxation Office. Frequent speaker on tax issues in the media and at universities.'


Put your experience immediately after your executive profile in reverse chronological order so that the reader can easily reconstruct your most recent career moves. Focus on the results that you achieved rather than your responsibilities. The results, as they say, will speak for themselves.

Emphasise the transferable skills you possess to tell your prospective employer that they could get the results you've previously achieved in their company too.

Don't forget to supply your reader with some context for your achievements. This can be established by quantifying your accomplishments. For example, instead of stating that you played a part in increasing company revenue, you could say, 'Played a key role in increasing hardware sales to $2.5 million in 2001 (up 5 per cent from 2000) by revising advertising budget and strategically adjusting marketing plan.'

While your employer will be most interested in your most recent experience, there can be value in displaying your early work experience, particularly if you have worked for well-known, reputable companies, or if you achieved impressive accomplishments in these positions.

Sell your soft skills

There are many qualities required in a good senior manager or successful executive; excellent time management skills, multitasking abilities and an understanding of financial processes. However, people tend to forget that executive positions require 'people' skills as well as professional ones. Include in your resume appointments that required you to think innovatively, lead a team of people or demonstrated dedication and went beyond your call of duty. While other candidates may have a similar education or career path, these personal anecdotes will give you an edge.

Key words are key

Use key words like industry jargon and those featured in the job description. Most recruiters use databases to store and search resumes and you want yours to be noticed and recognised as relevant.

Don't get personal

There is no way to predict the personal biases of those who read your resume, so if in doubt about including a personal anecdote, leave it out. Volunteer work, professional affiliations, teaching experience, board memberships, presentations and recognitions are constructive details. Marital status, age, religion, hobbies and country club memberships are not.

Checking it twice

If you're applying for an executive position, you have enough experience to know that just running a spell check on an important document won't cut it. Your resume needs to be checked for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors, appropriate wording, correct spacing and alignment and relevant information. Then it needs to be checked again, preferably by someone else with an eye for detail.

Review your resume with a very discriminating eye and concentrate particularly on reducing unnecessary wordiness. Every word in your resume should serve a purpose. In this way, cut down your resume to three pages at the most. Make sure you use language that is succinct, dynamic and action oriented to capture and hold your reader's attention.

An executive resume needs to be of the highest calibre – it's the first impression your prospective employer gets of your experience and your impeccable skills. Don't forget to include a gold-standard cover letter with your resume then wait for your interview request!

Elizabeth Fenech

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