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Seven Tips for C-Level Executive Resumes

As Robert Frost might say were he alive today,” C-level executives go down the road less traveled. And that makes all the difference.” And, recognizing that the C-level executive does travel on a different plane than other senior management, therefore, they need to have a resume that stands out above. So how does a C-level resume look? What needs to be included? What needs to be excluded? Here are the top seven tips to lay the groundwork and get you started.

Contact information A Gmail address is very important to have on the resume. It says that you are up-to-date with technology (even if you personally aren’t). Putting an AOL email extension on your resume gives the reader a vision of an older, behind-the-times individual. A recent comment from an executive recruiter who reviewed a CEO resume that had an AOL email address, “My grandmother uses AOL. It’s so old-fashioned. I didn’t think people in business still used it.” Listing your Visual CV URL and/or a LinkedIn profile link is also valuable to the reader and is an opportunity for them to obtain additional information from these sources. It shows your familiarity with Job Search Web 2.0 tools.

10-second glance factor Does your resume pass the 10-second glance test? It’s somewhat common knowledge these days that no matter what level you are at in business, when recruiters or executive hiring managers initially read a resume, they give it a 10-second glance. If you are unable to showcase your talent and accomplishments in such a way that they jump off the page, you may not get a second look.

Most important real estate on resume The top one-fourth to one-third of your executive resume is critical. It allows you to show the reader at a glance who you are, what you have done, and what you can do for them. Some call this the profile area, or summary. What’s important to note is that the information relayed in this section needs to be clear, compelling and concise. Think of it as your marketing / branding section… your differentiators. When you are buying a product you want to know—what benefit would I gain from purchasing this product?—is this the exact right product?

Vital ingredients for this section:

  1. Short two-sentence overview of candidate.

  2. Three accomplishments featured that emphasize top talents

  3. Keywords

  4. Degrees, certifications, languages, and experience that relates to the potential position

In the sample below you can see how effective this formula can be:

GLOBAL CEO Industrial Products | High-Volume Distribution | Competitive Worldwide Markets | Global 500 Customers Strategic and performance-focused executive with 15+ years of innovative, energetic leadership in US, Asia, Latin America, and Europe. Expert in leveraging global resources, capabilities, and relationships to gain advantage in outsourcing/low-cost country sourcing arenas. Motivational leader known for clearly defining mission and goals, aligning people and resources, and consistently delivering results that exceed expectations: • First profitable year in history of U.S. business unit, stemming 6 years of multimillion-dollar losses. • $50M value creation in 5 years, leading Asian start-up from concept to $104M in profitable revenue. • Quick penetration of Latin American market segment and growth to 10% of company sales in 5 years. MBA, Harvard Executive Education, Brown BA. Fluent French and Spanish, conversational Mandarin.

Keywords Yes, even C-Level executives need to be conscious of keywords in their resumes. Recruiters will run the resume through a keyword search, particularly if the position is in an industry where it is paramount that top-level management have expertise in certain key areas or have specific management skills. These keywords can be filtered throughout the resume and highlighted in the profile or summary area.

Experience Avoid writing your resume as a series of job descriptions. Focus on your accomplishments that tell your success story. Generalities don’t make the grade. Quantified accomplishment-based statements in the experience section show a true C-Level’s value. What has been the key impact you have had in each position? Have you delivered stellar profit increases? Turned around underperforming organizations? Achieved industry “firsts” or unprecedented results in your organization, etc.? For example: “Drove revenue and income growth of 45% over a 9-month period, through growth and acquisitions.”

Length Resumes today are being read electronically on computers, iPhones, and other mobile devices. Therefore, the resume should be kept to two pages, three tops. I know, I know, you are a C-level executive and deserve more space to talk about all of your successes, however, a longer resume just doesn’t hit the mark today. Visual CVs (online resume) and LinkedIn profiles, can highlight more details. A resume should reflect the last 10-15 years of experience in detail. This helps keep the resume length inline as well as showing the most current experience. Sometimes experience from over 15 years ago has been replaced by updated processes. The accomplishments themselves are still valid and of value, however, some of the “how” is outdated.

File formats There are several ways to submit resumes to employers, recruiters and executive hiring managers, so having various file formats is helpful. A word document, plain text and PDF are the common formats that are usable in most submissions. Also having a Visual CV/resume is also helpful to have with supplemental information as mentioned earlier. It is essential as a C-level executive to distinguish yourself from other senior-level management. Using some of these tips will help you create a C-level resume and add to your success in getting the attention of the recruiter and getting called for an interview.

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