How to Write an Executive Resume Like a Pro

executive resume resume builder

Gunning for the C-Suite? If that’s a “yes,” you’ve come to the right place.

See, executive resumes aren’t your usual resumes. While they follow the same basic format — name, contact information, work history, accomplishments, skills — their content is quite different. Basically, an executive resume shows that you’re ready to play with the big dogs, and that you’ve shifted your mindset from “follower” to “leader.”

In other words, executive resumes require you to:

Add an Executive Summary

This isn’t the same as the resume objective, by the way. While resume objectives are bland and vague, executive summaries answer one important question: What can you, as an aspiring executive, offer that other aspiring executives can’t?

The easiest way to do this is to position yourself as an expert. For example, if you’re in the project management field, and your specialty is Kanban, you can say “Kanban executive with 10 years of experience optimizing Fortune 500 companies for maximum performance.” Essentially, your executive summary is your value proposition — so make every word of it count.

Get Your Accomplishments Down, STAT

After reading your executive summary, the first thing recruiters will ask is, “Okay, so this is who you are. So what?” Your accomplishments section — or “Career Highlights,” if you will — can answer that question.

Pick quantitative, rather than qualitative, accomplishments. While companies appreciate “nice” executives as much as anyone, they prefer those who have the potential to make a measurable impact on the organization. You can say something like, “boosted employee morale by allowing dogs in the office,” as long as you explain how you quantify something as abstract as morale.

Also, it helps to use the Challenge-Context-Action-Result format when you write your executive accomplishments. The format goes like this:

  • Pick an issue you handled that’s strategically important to the company.
  • Explain why it’s strategically important.
  • Specify what you did to address the issue.
  • Support your results with numbers.

Don’t forget to use strong, energetic verbs when writing this section. Recruiters will appreciate it if you vary your word choices while still being accurate. If you’re not sure about this part, ask someone else for help when rewriting/editing your resume.

List Your Core Proficiencies

Write only executive-level skills in this section. For example, you’d want to leave out “data entry” and “staff supervision,” since those are entry- and mid-level skills, respectively. Instead, include things like “process engineering,” “asset management,” “market analysis.” Think of this section as a list of what you can do, as opposed to the accomplishments section, which lists what you’ve already done.

Use a Hybrid Resume Format

You may have heard of functional and chronological resumes. But did you know there’s a third type that combines both of these? It’s called the hybrid resume.

As the name suggests, the hybrid resume has the strengths of the two standard resume types. It highlights your skills, achievements and experience, while putting them in a chronological context at the same time. This is especially useful if you have gaps in your job history, or you’re under special circumstances that preclude you from using the functional or chronological formats.

Keep in mind, however, that “hybrid” isn’t the end-all, be-all format. If the company you’re applying for is extremely conservative, or you’re shifting to an entirely different field, it’s best to stick to the standard formats.

Leave Out Your Photo

Unless you’re applying for a job where looks are everything, you’re better off not including a picture at all. Even if it’s a wholesome picture of you at your most photogenic, recruiters may subconsciously base their hiring decisions on your appearance. In case you’re required to show your face, though, be sure to follow these tips on taking professional photos.

Don’t Forget the Basics

Most of the rules for writing general resumes apply to executive resumes, too. For example:

  • Tailor your resume to the job. For example, if you’re applying to a manufacturing company, position yourself as a “production executive.” Likewise, the term “systems architect” would be a good fit for an IT company.
  • Use readable fonts like Arial, Calibri, Garamond and Times New Roman. If you want your resume to stand out visually without turning off employers, use Trebuchet MS.
  • Watch out for redundant words. Instead of using “led” over and over again, use synonyms like “oversaw,” “coordinated,” “controlled,” etc.
  • Use the standard black-and-white design for resumes as much as possible. Avoid colored fonts, frilly borders and anything too cutesy for a member of the C-Suite.
  • Write your mobile, instead of home, number. That way, recruiters can reach you whenever they need to, and not have to worry about someone else — like your family members — picking up the phone in your stead.
  • Write a professional email address. It’s okay to use your work email, or a widely-used client like Gmail. But if you want to show how tech-savvy you are, investing in a personalized address like will go a long way.
  • Double check for typos and SPAG errors. Otherwise, a recruiter might overlook your impressive history for one instance of misspelling “achieve” as “acheive.”

Don’t let your achievements stop with one piece of paper! Build your brand beyond your resume by creating your own website, adding value through industry-related blog posts and being active on social media.  And if you feel you don’t have the expertise to create a great resume, consider using a professional resume writer such as Assignment Baron.   Do these things on a regular basis, and it won’t be so hard to fill out your resume for your next career milestone.

Image:  Hybrid resume

Sarah Landrum

After graduating from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR, Sarah moved to Harrisburg to start her career as a Digital Media Specialist and a writer. She later founded Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to helping young professionals navigate the work world and find happiness and success in their careers.

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