Preparing an executive resume whether you consider yourself an executive or other professional in mid-career will require a very different resume format from what you have prepared in the past.
What worked for you in the past
At the beginning of a career, you prepare your resume with as much background as possible, stressing education, any work experience you might have, and any other extra-curricular activity that you think might be of interest to employers and/or recruiters. They tend to decide about you based more on their perceptions of your ability and adaptability to what they want you to do for them.
In the early stages of your career, potential employers and recruiters viewed your resume with a retrospective view to assess whether you could adapt to what the employer wanted. Your education was still important but your experience was now being considered more importantly as they attempted to assess whether you could do what they wanted you to do for them. As your career progressed, you were promoted and may have had to change industries. Generally though, it was the recruiters and employers who presented those opportunities to you and were, in many instances, making career decisions for you.
What will work for you going forward
When you reach a senior-level position how you present yourself in a resume changes dramatically. This is particularly true if you are also in transition. Your resume needs to change from a retrospective approach to a prospective approach. An executive resume format is similar to how a company prepares a promotional brochure.
A company brochure describes their products or services targeted specifically at their potential customers. Preparing a brochure that extols their capabilities to everyone would be a waste of time and money. Hence, companies spend a great deal of time profiling their target customer to make sure their message will resonate with them.
An executive resume uses a similar approach. You need to be clear about who is your target customer (employer in your case). And you need to be clear about what you can or want to do for that employer, what are your best skills, and be able to demonstrate success at those skills. You should also have learned at this stage of your career that every employer thinks their industry is unique and, in their mind, if your experience is not in “their” industry, it would be too long of a learning curve for you to be successful. Well, we all know that is not true but that will be their thinking.
An executive resume must demonstrate that you are in charge of your career by describing the following:
- What you want to do and for whom – Position and Industry
- Describe what you are best at doing – Your top three
- Include achievement/success stories that demonstrate what you are best at doing – Stories are believable and memorable
Following the approach described above will also ensure that what you tell others (your verbal business card) will be consistent with your executive resume.
Executive resume guidance
You can download additional guidelines on how to prepare an executive resume by clicking on DOWNLOAD PDF below. You can read more about how to prepare an executive resume, the different types of resume formats and when they might be best for you, and how employers and recruiters use resumes to screen you out by getting my book, 12 Steps to a New Career. If you want to work with an expert to help you craft a strong and compelling resume, contact Carl.