The job market has tightened a bit in recent months after an explosion in 2021 during the recovery from the mass layoffs that hit many sectors in 2020 with the impact of COVID-19. As is always the case, the higher up on the organizational chart you go, the fewer jobs there are available – making the executive job market narrower than it would be for a fresh graduate in marketing or computer science. This is especially true with the Great Resignation slowing pace of late. While networking, industry reputation, and recommendations are even more critical for such roles, it’s still vital to have an up-to-date resume that distinguishes you from executive competition. Here are a few tips on how to gain differentiation on that important resume submission.
Detail Specific Achievements
A fine line to balance on a resume, especially for people with as much experience as most executives have, is trying to display specific achievements without getting too granular. Over a 30-year career you don’t need to hit every single win or achievement, or your resume will be 5 pages long. However, you can’t have a totally generic resume that doesn’t go in-depth on any of the accomplishments you’ve made over your career.
A good strategy is to build a Select Achievements section on your resume in between your summary and the body of your professional experience and pull in your biggest achievements (or proudest moments) to highlight them appropriately. This section should not be more than five bullet points and could even be as few as three for maximum impact. This is where you can get ultra-specific with amount of revenue generated, systems that you’ve implemented, or organizational changes that you’ve driven. Building such a section will make it easy for headhunters and hiring managers to see the highlights of your career and learn about what you have accomplished that could translate to their organization.
Provide Examples of Leadership
Similarly, even if it’s not a number or might not be a tangible achievement, try to highlight elements of your leadership style and experience. Do you opt for a more hands-off, employee empowerment approach? Do you practice servant leadership? How have you developed subordinates over the years, and have any of them been promoted to major positions under your guidance? These are all items that should be brought up on the resume if possible, so hiring managers can get a sense of not just what you can do for an organization, but how you help personnel under you grow and develop.
Showcase Personal Traits
Finally, it’s important to build out a summary at the top of your resume. This is not just a great spot for keywords to get your resume through applicant tracking systems, but it’s an area where you can lay out what makes you unique or particularly strong as an executive – and as a leader and professional writ large. The summary should focus on big picture strengths such as strategic planning, team building, process improvement, and P&L management, to name a few examples, but it should also contain slightly more personal descriptions. Are you energetic? Are you particularly calm under pressure during big negotiations? Do you thrive at driving cross-functional collaboration? Again, don’t be afraid to get specific on what personality traits and abilities make you a good choice to help head an organization – being generic will not help at all, even if you think that a particular trait can cut both ways.
The key to a good resume is making yourself stand out from the competition, not through a fancy format or design, but through unique content and showcasing your individual skills and personality as much as possible. This is even more true for executives, who have more responsibility and therefore need to more clearly explain their particular strengths. We hope you took something away from our tips on how to differentiate your executive resume.