The role your resumé plays in your job search will change as you ascend the ranks.
“Once you’re at the executive level, your reputation within your industry and the strong network you’ve presumably built over the course of your career will hold increasingly more weight with hiring managers,” says Amanda Augustine, a career expert at TheLadders, an online job-matching service for professionals. “And you’ll find that many of the traits that hiring managers want to assess in their executive candidates — leadership style, vision for the organisation, personality, and core values — will be easier to uncover during a conversation.”
But that doesn’t you should ditch the résumé altogether. In fact, Augustine says no matter where you are in your career, you should always have an up-to-date, standout resumé ready to go.
“You never know when you’ll be asked to submit a formal application,” she says, “so it’s better to maintain an updated document that not only highlights your most impressive accomplishments, but also positions your experience and achievements in a manner that reflects your current career goals.”
To get a clearer picture of what makes a resumé stand out, we asked TheLadders for a sample of an excellent one for an executive-level professional.
While your resumé may look different depending on the industry you’re in, the one below should serve as a useful guide for job seekers with a lot of experience:
What makes this an excellent resumé for an executive-level professional? Augustine outlines the following reasons:
1. It includes a link to her professional profile.
Regardless of whether you’re new to the workforce, or in the C-Suite, you should always include a link to your professional profile or website.
2. The emphasis is on recent experience and accomplishments.
“Susan’s” current role has the longest description of her roles and responsibilities, says Augustine. “Although she has been at her most recent job for a relatively short amount of time, she still includes a healthy list of bulleted, quantifiable achievements. The further back in her history the reader goes, the less detailed the information gets.” Recruiters and hiring managers are most interested in what you’re doing now, not what you may have done seven or more years ago.
3. She included a “Selected Achievements” selection.
While this is in no way mandatory on an executive resumé, it’s a great way to quickly tell the reader about Susan’s most relevant and noteworthy achievements without forcing the reader to hunt for them in her professional experience section, Augustine explains.
4. She restricted the amount of experience included on the resumé.
In this case, the job seeker restricted the amount of experience included to the last 15 years. “Any experience outside of this time frame is listed in a ‘Prior Experience’ section without a lot of details,” says Augustine. “If you’re running out of room and don’t have the space for an entire ‘Prior Experience’ section, then you can simply place a ‘Career Note’ at the end of your professional experience section and mention the noteworthy titles and company names in a couple of lines.”
5. The first half provides a succinct, yet powerful snapshot of her career, core competencies, and notable achievements with well-known organisations.
This job seeker’s role descriptions highlight her core responsibilities and prominently display her most notable achievements. “The additional information at the end of the resumé — Technology Skills, Professional Affiliations, Education, Licenses, and more — paints the picture of a finance executive with multiple areas of talent and performance expertise,” Augustine notes.
6. She limited her resumé to two pages.
TheLadders eye-tracking study found that the average recruiter spends six seconds reviewing a resumé before deciding if it’s worth their time. “As a result, I highly recommend limiting yourself to two pages,” says Augustine.
When you have an extensive career history, it can seem daunting to stick to the two-page rule. “However, once you restrict yourself to outlining the most recent 15 years and really tailor the information to your current career goals, this should become an easier task.”
This limitation will force you to more carefully evaluate each line of your resumé and determine what information is most relevant and compelling for your business case. “What information would a hiring manager care most about when considering you for an interview?” she asks.
7. References aren’t listed or offered.
Cut “References available upon request” from your resumé. “Don’t waste resumé real estate on this information,” Augustine says. The employer knows they can ask you for references, should they need them.
8. The job seeker removed the dates associated with her undergraduate degree and certifications that fall outside the 15-year time frame.
“While it’s important to list these credentials, there’s no need to highlight her age,” Augustine says. “Her accomplishments should take the spotlight.”
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