To compete for such an elite leadership role, one which is second only to the company’s CEO, you’ll need to craft a professional and compelling chief operating officer (COO) resume that markets your experience and professional abilities as superior to every other applicant.
It may sound simple, but writing a resume suitable for a COO position takes time, practice, and skill.
There are almost 69,000 COOs in the United States as of 2023. An excellent executive resume will help you stand out in this market.
This guide will detail how to write a COO resume using executive resume examples, practical advice, and expert tips.
We’ll explain the best ways to format and polish a resume that will position you as a standout candidate and valuable company asset.
How To Write A Compelling Chief Operating Officer (COO) Resume.
Becoming a COO (also known as a Vice President of Operations or Chief Operations Officer) typically involves spending many years in education, honing leadership skills, and putting in long hours to gain relevant experience.
Knowing how to summarise your skills and expertise and convey yourself as the best candidate is perhaps the biggest challenge when it comes to writing a professional resume for a C-level executive position.
First, ignore everything you’ve ever learned about resume writing. A COO resume should be more than just a document outlining your education, skills, work experience, and professional achievements.
Your resume will be your potential employer’s first impression of you as a professional – before you have the chance to give them a firm handshake and direct eye contact.
At its core, a resume is a form of self-promotion. And even if you hate singing your own praises, you must carefully craft every sentence to demonstrate why you (and only you) are the clear choice for the job.
Blandly listing a few relevant skills and your previous job titles and duties is a surefire way to end up with a “Thank you, but no thank you” response.
Instead, your resume must express your unique perspective and skillsets, show why you will be an indispensable asset, and demonstrate how you’ll contribute to the company’s future success.
So, what elements make a great chief operating officer resume? Below is a section-by-section resume writing guide with expert tips to help you build the best resume for a COO position.
1. Strategic Resume Planning.
Marketing your talents and relevant qualifications to construct a suitable COO resume is complex at best. To give yourself a leg up, use a resume template or check out a COO resume sample for inspiration. The ideal resume should:
- Be longer than one page but no more than two pages.
- Use white space and bullet points for easy visual scanning.
- Be free of spelling and grammar errors.
- Showcase your leadership skills and extensive knowledge.
Pro Tip: Use the same strategic planning to approach your resume as you would a challenging business problem. Chief operating officers must have the foresight and skill to transform a company’s operations and drive success.
Use the same visionary thinking to perfect your self-marketing skills and resume writing. You’re a successful operations manager, change agent, and innovator, and your resume (and cover letter) should align with those qualities.
2. Resume Design And Layout.
Creative resumes can be effective, but they’re not a good choice for a chief operating officer position. Instead, use a minimalist resume format and a traditional layout. Choose a professional font and set one-inch page margins.
Scroll down to view our COO resume template guide.
Pro Tip: Use Arial Narrow as your font. It provides more room for writing compared to larger fonts.
3. Title And Summary Section.
Before you write your resume summary, look closely at the job description and highlight relevant keywords and skills.
Use exact phrases from the job posting to ensure the hiring manager or HR department can see you have the skills they’re looking for in a COO.
If you’re stuck, search online for a template or COO resume example and read the summaries, which should be similar to the following sample:
Chief Operating Officer with 20+ years of experience in business, marketing, and sales. Highly skilled at business development, implementing operational strategies, and leading sales teams to drive growth. Proven track record of developing and launching innovative business strategies to achieve corporate goals, cut costs, and increase annual revenue.
4. Skills And Core Competencies.
If you want to get more interviews and land a C-level senior executive position, the core competency section on your resume should list more than a few common skills.
Start by creating a comprehensive list of your skills, including hard (for instance, contract negotiation, regulatory compliance) and soft (team building, analytical thinking, expert communicator). Narrow down your list using the job posting as a reference.
Pro Tip: Research which skills are best suited for the specific chief operating officer position you hope to gain. Where possible, take your research further and schedule a meeting with the CEO, senior board members, junior-level executives, or even branch managers. Research the company online: what are its business objectives and challenges? Where is it headed in five years? Use that information to pare down your skill list to include only the most relevant.
5. Professional Experience.
The work experience section of your resume cannot be understated. Don’t make the common mistake of just listing responsibilities from past positions.
Remember, the best COOs use innovation and visionary thinking to make tactical decisions, streamline everyday business operations, and improve organisational performance. Use that same mindset to describe your industry experience.
For example, consider the following questions:
- What problems did you face at your last company, and how did you find a way to solve them?
- How can you back up those claims and show that your unique solutions were effective?
- How do your work achievements show you have the skill and experience an operations leader needs?
- Did you work on any special projects or achieve notable successes? For instance, did you increase quarterly profits? Did you develop a sales strategy that cut company costs?
Pro Tip: When listing your past duties, start every sentence with power verbs, such as implemented, leveraged, grew, aligned, and enhanced.
6. Educational Background.
Finally, list each educational institution you attended and the qualification you obtained. Also, include important events, such as if you graduated summa cum laude or ran the student business association.
COO Resume Template Guide.
Here is a COO resume example:
Contact Information [Header]
Over 15 years of experience heading up the day-to-day operations of a multi-national manufacturer of car parts. Overseeing production and logistics at four regional plants and implementing end-to-end supply chain improvements. Lead and direct domestic and overseas operations to uphold accurate demand management, meeting orders on time in full.
Strategic thinking, leadership, strong analytical and problem-solving skills, communication and interpersonal skills, business acumen, project management skills, technical and operational knowledge, risk management, financial management.
Problem-solving: supply chain disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the impacts of lockdown. Identified the disruption and where the bottlenecks were in the supply of our biggest volume (and highest margin) lines to maximise output. Aligned strategic logistics partners to ensure disruption was minimal service levels were upheld.
May 2014 – December 2022
- Analysing complex data and to find solutions to operational problems.
- Communicate effectively with all levels of the organisation, as well as with external stakeholders.
- Plan and manage large, complex end-to-end supply chain projects that are essential to the company’s operations.
Washington University in St. Louis
2005 – 2009
Master’s in Business Administration
AuSQ Certification – Lean Six Sigma Executive Champion.
Expert Tips For Writing A Chief Operations Officer Resume And Cover Letters.
Below, we’ve summed up the expert tips for marketing your business skills and creating a professional resume that paints you as a superior chief operations officer candidate:
- Pay Attention to Details: Scour your resume numerous times to comb out mistakes. Software like Grammarly will help you check for spelling and grammar errors. Don’t forget about your resume’s file name: the traditional choice is your full name, the word “resume,” and the year: JohnDoeResume2023.docx.
- Quantify with Numbers: Use numbers, figures, and percentages whenever possible to evidence your claims. For example, did you build strategic partnerships that ultimately created a new revenue stream for your company? By precisely how much did your accomplishment increase sales and profits?
- Make it ATS-Friendly: Many hiring managers use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to sort through resumes during the first round of cuts. Make your resume ATS-friendly by avoiding tables, text boxes, clipart, and symbols. Additionally, apply proper headers, include job-optimised keywords, and use simple fonts.
C-Suite Resume Examples.
The Arielle Executive team has developed guides resume writing guides for every job in the c-suite:
Invest In Your Future With Arielle Executive.
Crafting the perfect COO resume takes time and patience, and detail cannot be understated when applying for a C-level executive position. Writing, formatting, editing, and polishing your resume is a sizeable task; fortunately, you don’t have to tackle it alone.
At Arielle Executive, we offer bespoke resume writing, branding, and job coaching services for board members, senior leaders, and C-level executives.
We work closely with our clients to help them compete for Australia’s top executive positions and become the leaders of tomorrow.
Call Arielle Executive at (02) 8294 9090 to learn more about our COO resume and branding services and invest in your future success.