How To Write An Executive Resume

Essential resume writing guide for executives.

how to write an executive resume
Irene McConnell
3 min read

August 1, 2022

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Are you an executive candidate planning to apply for a job in the United States? You must be quite apprehensive about ensuring that your resume and LinkedIn profile tick all of the boxes that American recruiters and employers expect.

Well, worry no more. I’m about to provide you with all the tips you need to write an amazing executive resume that will impress executive recruiters and hiring managers.

It’s important to remember that most resumes out there are pretty substandard, with as many as 91% containing serious errors.

This means you can improve your chances of impressing executive recruiters by following a few simple (but important) resume writing guidelines.

(Related: How To Write A CIO Resume).

Executive Resume Writing Fundamentals.

First of all, remember that Americans are a confident but relatively humble bunch.

They appreciate the professionalism, but they dislike arrogance. This often causes problems for executive candidates who seek employment opportunities in the United States.

New Yorkers, for example, love to brag. If you live in New York and don’t know how to boast, you’ll likely miss job opportunities. (Well, let’s get honest – you’ll probably get trampled on).

This leads me to your first CV writing lesson. Your executive resume needs to communicate your career story, achievements and value, but it should not make you sound like a narcissistic ego-maniac.

And yes – it’s not an easy balance to achieve.

How Long Should Your Executive Resume Be?

If you’re applying from overseas, you’ll probably find that executive resumes are longer than expected. What’s the ideal number of pages? Well, I suggest that you keep it between three and five.

This is a good rule of thumb to follow, but remember that the most critical factor determining a resume’s length is its ability to communicate your value.

(Related: How To Write A CEO Resume).

In other words, your executive resume should be as long as it needs to be to communicate what makes you qualified to do a specific job and why you should be hired over another equally qualified candidate.

As a side note, be aware that the words “CV” and “resume” can mean different things across cultures (is there a difference between a CV and a resume?)

What To Include On Your Executive Resume?

American employers tend to be quite specific about what they expect (and certainly expect NOT to see) on your executive resume. Here’s a rundown.

  • Photograph: definitely a no-no. Unless you’re applying for a modelling role, do not include your photograph anywhere on your executive resume.
resume photograph
  • Nationality: unnecessary. You should, however, include your visa information. Australian employers want to know from the onset that you have legal rights to work in their country.
  • Gender: do not include.
  • Phone number: yes, but include your mobile phone number only. A landline suggests that you have nothing to do, and sit by the phone all day.
  • Date of birth: unnecessary. This can lead to discrimination based on age.
  • References: no need to include. Hiring managers typically ask for your references in the last stage of the vetting process – before making a job offer. For now, including “References available upon request” on the last page of your CV is perfectly OK.

(Related: How To Become A COO).

Your Executive Resume’s Headline.

This appears under your name. Think of it as your tagline. I suggest that you match the headline to your value proposition and to the jobs you’re applying for.

Be sure to include any specific niche skills and specialisations that may help you stand out. For example:

Tom Jones, Senior Financial Accountant | International Tax Law | Non-For-Profits

Career Profile or Career Objective?

Sometime in the 1990s, it was popular to kick off your resume with a Career Objective. This trend is officially over, and I highly recommend you begin your resume with a Career Profile.

The difference?

In your Career Objective, you talk about things a potential employer can do for you. In your Career Profile, you talk about what you can do for the employer. In other words, your Career Profile is where you sell yourself by communicating your unique value.

Executive CV or Executive Resume?

In Australia, the two terms are used interchangeably, with “resume” used more frequently. That said, if you mention “your CV”, everyone will understand what you mean.

There’s no need to get caught up in the semantics; the most important consideration when writing an Australian CV is to ensure that it communicates your value to potential employers.

Final Thoughts On Writing Your Executive Resume.

A professionally written executive resume is integral to your success when applying for roles in the United States.

Executive recruiters and hiring managers will notice – and be suitably impressed – if your resume is tailored to suit US requirements and expectations.

That being said, remember that no one gets a job based on the resume alone. The purpose of the resume is to get you across the line into the interview room. No more, no less.



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