Skip to section
Your executive resume is your personal marketing document. No business will succeed without a smart marketing strategy that speaks to its target market. By the same token, no job application will succeed in the tough job market without an executive resume that communicates the candidate’s commercial value to recruiters and employers.
Executive resume writing is both a skill and an art.
As such, it follows several fundamental tenets you can learn to increase the strength of your job applications immediately.
(Related: Chief Executive Officer Resume Writing Guide).
When written with these tenets in mind, a resume – combined with smart job search strategies – directly contributes to more interviews, better positions, bigger offers and a faster career transition.
So, what are these resume writing fundamentals?
Executive resume writers know quite a few – and mastering them all would take years of your time.
Thankfully, resume writing, like any skill, follows rules of the Pareto Principle, which asserts that 20% your efforts will account for about 80% of your output’s effectiveness.
Today, I’ll share 20% of all executive resume writing secrets that will make 80% of the difference to your job applications.
1. Avoid Making Generic Statements.
“I am a self-motivated, ambitious person who thrives in dynamic environments…”
Look. I’m sure that you are self-motivated and ambitious. Thing is, your executive resume is not a place where you list your qualities. It’s a marketing document where you list your competitive advantages.
A competitive advantage is a point of differentiation; it’s a reason to hire you instead of another person.
In the modern job market, being self-motivated and ambitious are assumed requisites. In other words, no employer would hire an unmotivated, lazy person.
A sentence like this is a waste of precious real estate on your resume and – more importantly – a missed opportunity to provide concrete reasons why you should be considered for employment – above other candidates.
This mistake often happens in resume summaries (read this guide to see some examples of excellent resume summaries).
2. Remove Unnecessary Graphics.
It’s perfectly OK to have some visual design elements on your resume. These can subtly improve the readability while guiding the reader’s eye toward the most important parts of your pitch.
However, it’s NOT OK to go overboard with these.
I’ve seen resumes filled to the brim with what I call “graphics for the sake of graphics”, which overwhelm the reader with noisy background patterns, unnecessary graphs and photographs.
Finally, if you’re applying for roles in large and/or ASX-listed companies, remember that graphics in your resume will probably never be seen by anyone other than you.
As soon as you push “apply” on your job application, the employer’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS) will suck your resume in, stripping away all design elements and presenting the recruiter with a simple text version.
3. Quantify Your Achievements And Accomplishments.
Your resume must present a story of your career narrative and back it up with hard numbers. Numbers provide empirical proof of your claims and add a necessary layer of credibility to your resume.
Unfortunately, it’s also a key area where most resumes fall short. Here’s what an unquantified resume achievement looks like:
“Improved sales through innovative outreach campaigns.”
A much more impactful, quantified version of the same achievement would look like this:
“Achieved 220% year-over-year sales growth through innovative outreach campaigns.”
4. Proofread Five Times To Eliminate Typos And Errors.
Yes, five times. It’s very difficult to catch your own typos within a single round of checks because your eyes are likely to skip over your mistakes.
By the way, an advanced spell checker like Grammarly will eliminate 70% of typos and grammatical issues.
As for the rest, I suggest that you follow the following secret proofreading method; it’s used by magazine editors to ensure that their publications remain error-free:
- Proofread your document on a desktop screen.
- Ask a friend/colleague to proofread the document.
- Proofread your document, at least 3 hours later, on a mobile screen.
- Ask a different friend/colleague to proofread the document.
- Proofread your document for the final time ( at least 3 hours later again), on a desktop screen.
5. Consider Hiring A Professional Executive Resume Writer.
Resume writing can be a time-consuming and often frustrating process. Some people can benefit greatly from a resume writing guide like this; sometimes a few foundational tips is all that’s required to get someone unstuck and moving in the right direction.
That being said, some people are simply not wired to be writers and marketers. They find it impossibly difficult to write about themselves in a positive light and to sell themselves within a few paragraphs.
If that’s you, a professional resume writer can help you find the right wording and make the right impression on employers.
When looking for a professional resume writer to help you write your resume, I suggest that you don’t shop merely on price alone. Ask for resume samples and check reviews to make sure that the resume writer is capable of producing a document that will help you land your dream role.
Last, but not least – don’t forget to include a punchy, compelling cover letter.
Once your resume is ready, watch this video to learn how to deploy it as part of a smart job search strategy:
All the best.