Resumes are highly important no matter what level of the corporate food chain you’re operating on. Whether you’re a fresh-faced recent college grad or a seasoned COO, you will most likely need an updated resume to find your next job. The differences between such resumes, however, are obviously vast. Here’s a few styles for writing executive resumes as well as a general executive position resume template. Before we dive into the variations, let’s run through the overall template.
A Resume Template for an Executive Position
The first thing on your executive resume should be an executive summary. Anywhere from three to five sentences long, the executive summary is your opportunity to showcase at a high level what you bring to an organization. Whether you’re great at building a team, working with a Board of Directors, or instituting organizational change, the summary is where your top-level skills and abilities should be profiled in depth.
After the summary should come a dedicated section of keywords, and then the professional experience. If there’s experience from early in your career that you think is highly important or relevant, build out a “special achievements” section that precedes your professional experience and doesn’t contain dates or job titles. That way, that important information can be placed high up on the resume and is easily accessible. The professional experience should follow in chronological order, with more noteworthy positions given extra room and attention.
Finally, following the professional experience should come education, certifications, organization memberships, and any other development courses or proficiencies. While important, these are almost always not as relevant for executives as professional experience and achievements. With that said, let’s look at a few more specific styles of executive resumes.
Two Page Resume
The most common style of executive resume is a two-page resume. This is exactly what it sounds like. Two pages are given to the resume because of the amount of achievements, length of career, or both. Because of this, to break up formatting, there should usually be some type of separate achievements section, as well as a longer summary.
One Page Resume
One-page executive resumes are far more unusual. The reason for this is simple – executives usually have a great deal of years of experience and numerous achievements, and these are difficult to fit into one page. There are a few common reasons for executive resumes that should be only one page instead of two, though there could be many other explanations as well.
The most common is if you have spent a great length of time at one company. If you’ve worked at the same company for 30 years, largely in similar roles (even with increasing responsibility) it can be difficult to get to two pages of non-repetitive content. Second, if you’re looking to switch industries, going for one page could be a good idea. The new industry might have very different requirements and experience backgrounds than your previous industry, which could make much of your experience less relevant. Finally, some executives don’t like to sound executive. Even if they could include two pages of material, it doesn’t fit their style. If a more extensive two-page resume doesn’t sound like you, go with the one-page resume instead!
Alternate Two Page Resume
In addition to a “regular” two page resume, there are also alternate versions which have two pages but far less content. If you want to have two pages, but are maybe struggling to get over 600 words, there are methods to format the resume where it extends to two pages even with lighter content. The lesser amount of verbiage could be a conscious choice for a cleaner look, or due to fewer accomplishments, but the result is a resume that has the length traditionally associated with an executive but far less dense. The drawback, of course, is that it can look a bit too spaced out, and also has far fewer keywords and achievements, but it can be a useful tactic.
CV or Curriculum Vitae
The final style of executive resume isn’t truly a resume at all, but a CV, or curriculum vitae. CVs are traditionally used in the education fields but are also common in the healthcare and research industries as well. An executive in these sectors might opt for a CV over a resume. The main difference between CVs and resumes is that CVs can extend to more than two pages due to the number of certifications, publications, or other material present towards the bottom of the resume. An executive CV takes the general style of a CV (education higher up on the resume, more focus on technical information) while adding in the language and achievements of an executive.