While there are general best practices for resume writing, each industry, role, and type of resume has its own quirks. One of the more unusual such resume combinations is an executive CV. CV’s are usually used for academia or research, or occasionally the medical field. Executives, of course, are their own thing, with resumes that follow a largely similar format to a “regular” person’s resume but usually have different content, verbiage, and end goals. Combining both of those unique approaches to one document can be perplexing, so here’s our quick how-to on writing an executive CV.
Move Up the Education
This is perhaps the area where traditional CVs and executive resumes clash. On CVs, education is usually displayed near the top of the document, as it’s highly important for positions that generally require CVs. On executive resumes, education normally slides to the bottom, with professional experience and accomplishments taking precedence. For an executive CV, the CV element wins out – if you’re applying for a VP position at a hospital, that education will be really important. The same goes for leading a major research project. Other traditional CV items such as certifications and publications might be placed lower, but that education should remain front and center.
Strengthen the Language
Medical and educational language is somewhat different than standard “resume speak”. However, an executive CV must blend the language of that industry with executive-level verbiage. That means strengthening language without losing industry meaning and including the strongest action verbs possible (“spearheaded”, “championed”, and “bolstered” being some good examples). Many CVs can tend to be a bit dry in terms of language, as they are built regarding hyper-specific industries and practices. An executive CV should be a bit spicier than that, as you should be trying to demonstrate your ability to lead and reinforcing that with equally potent language.
Focus on the Big Picture
Similarly, an executive CV needs to emphasize the candidate’s capability to lead an organization. This means demonstrating leadership and tangible achievements in prior management positions. Any big initiatives – guiding a research study to completion or implementing a new EHR at a hospital for example – should be expanded upon and highlighted. While highly specific industry successes can be important and relevant, that executive element must blend through as well.
A good thing to focus on in an executive CV would be any training/teaching/mentoring experience. These both demonstrate leadership and ability to develop others and showcase specific subject matter expertise, thus fulfilling general goals for both an executive document and a traditional CV. This is also a good chance to get specific: what did you train employees in? What made you such an effective mentor and coach for others? How did you build an effective team? These are all questions that should be answered if possible.
Include Certifications, Licenses, and Affiliations
As mentioned above, usually licenses (think RN), certifications (CPR or GCP), and affiliations (boards or committees) are an important factor in CVs. In fact, traditionally those are placed above professional experience. For an executive CV, these items are of lesser importance, but should absolutely still be placed on the document. Including licenses and affiliations demonstrates expertise in the field, compliance with the latest laws and regulations, and desire to continuously improve and learn. These are hugely important in the medical, research, and educational fields, and are also critical for executives, who must adapt to changing times as leaders of an organization or group.
Executive CVs can be quite complex to write, and there are many moving pieces to include. They are frequently quite lengthy documents with numerous sections and can be very difficult to format. Hopefully this guide on how to write executive CVs will be helpful the next time you sit down to contemplate the job search or plan your climb to an executive level in a field where CVs are required or desired.