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How to Create The Perfect Executive Resume or CV

November 17, 2009

Could Your Executive Resume Actually Be Too Short?

Most job hunters remember the days of single-page resumes, when hiring professionals warned them that any document daring to breach this “rule” would be quickly eliminated from consideration.

Fast forward to the rapid-fire job market of today, and you’ll find that things have changed considerably.

Not only have many executives jumped ship amid volatile corporate changes, but numerous mergers, downsizing efforts, and layoffs have cluttered the employment landscape. The results? Job seekers have more information than ever before to incorporate into an executive resume.


However, it seems that plenty of executives still sell themselves–and their resumes–short.

Consider the case of Richard* (fictitious name), an executive with a long tenure in the financial services industry.

He wanted to go after sales positions both inside and outside his industry, and possessed a solid history of wealth management experience, sales awards, and business-to-business relationship-building skills.

Yet, for all his experience, Richard was still cramming more than 20 years of sales proficiency and executive history into a single page. His resume didn’t even do him the honor of providing metrics on his revenue performance, nor did it spell out how his career progression was tied to his ultimate goal, which was Vice President of Sales.

Naturally, we worked together to extract some impressive numbers (4 years in President’s Club, leadership for a 10-person team, multimillion-dollar revenue growth, etc.). In the process, we discovered that his core strength (building strategic alliances) actually accounted for up to a THIRD of his department’s revenue, making this skill a central theme.

Incorporating and assembling these facts made it easy for his resume to stretch out and breathe–giving space to shout his value proposition and clearly tell a story of success. In the end, his resume pushed past the single-page mark, making it much easier for the reader to digest.

If this situation sounds familiar, it’s time to break out of your comfort zone and advance your resume into the 2-page arena. Keep in mind that a clean, easy-to-read design surrounded by plenty of white space can showcase your achievements, and that employers appreciate being able to quickly scan a resume for relevant information.

Here are 3 tips to jumpstart your resume-building process–and incorporate your strongest points into a powerful document worthy of your stature:

1 – Start by asking colleague to comment on your value proposition.

You’ll find that, as your career has progressed throughout different positions and companies, your brand value has remained intact. Often, you’ll see major themes emerge when looking at your work history from an aerial viewpoint.

For example, natural leaders usually find that they are drawn to work environments where the team needs a strong focal point. Problem-solvers inevitably end up at companies where there are operational or process improvement issues to overcome.

Whatever your unique strengths, showcasing them on your resume–even if you typically would wait until the interview to discuss these qualities–allows employers to see how your work will have an impact on their success.

Not sure how to approach colleagues? Consider what alliance partners, vendors, or suppliers have noted about your performance.

Of course, you’ll want to ensure that these qualities and capabilities take center stage on your executive resume.

2 – Write dollar-driven specifics that back up your value proposition.

Figures are the best way to demonstrate proof of your capabilities, as they provide eye-catching points that hit home for hiring managers.

Budget amounts, sales revenue, cost savings, productivity gains, and other metrics are all useful information for an executive resume.

What if your previous employer won’t allow you to disclose these amounts? Consider using percentages to indicate improvements in revenue, market share, or profits that drive home the same point on your brand.

3 – Add judicious use of white space and text effects.

An understated, yet powerful presentation is a hallmark of the most effective executive resumes.

While many people opt to use a built-in Word template, doing so can reflect poorly on your leadership strengths. Formatting and visual design are key elements of an effective resume, and can require some creative thinking on your part.

Executive resume samples are readily available on the Internet, and while copying text is not recommended, looking closely at different formats will give you an idea of the best presentation for your materials.

For a clear brand message, add white space around the title of your resume, plus the section headings and individual jobs. Be sure to use boldface text to set off areas of particular emphasis.

In summary, you’ll find that expanding your executive resume to 2 pages can inspire hiring authorities to take a second look.

These steps will help you to easily expand your resume with relevant information–leaving you with a strong brand message in a just-right amount of space.

About the Author: Award-winning executive resume writer Laura Smith-Proulx, CCMC, CPRW, CIC is a former recruiter who partners with executives to open doors to prime opportunities at Fortune-ranked corporations. The Executive Director of An Expert Resume, she is a certified resume expert and job search coach whose work has been published in numerous career bestsellers.

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