The Executive Resume: 3 Advanced Tips to Help You Create a Powerful Marketing Document

When creating your resume you need to write TO what you want versus FROM where you have been. Here are some secret tips from the vault that will help you to create a compelling executive resume:

Tip #1: Keywords and Summary Statements

One of the most important things to remember is that the keywords at the top of your resume create the reader’s initial perception of you by defining alignment and scale. You need to help the reader understand and appreciate your capabilities and career focus during a cursory glance.

For example, you could say:

Transformational Leader | Team Builder | Government Projects

But what do the keywords above really tell someone who does not know you? If you said, “Very little,” I agree! You have just used prime real estate to make a rather subtle ripple vs. a big splash.

Much more effective:

General Manager | Aviation and Aeronautics | Global Government Projects to $1 Billion | Transformational Technologies

Key points after that may include elements such as:

MBA, 9 Advanced Aeronautical Certifications | NASA Award Winner | Teams to 60 | 20+ Years’ Experience with World Class, Global Aerospace Companies

The second bunch of keywords supports your alignment and scale—and they “make your argument.”

Tip #2: Your Resume is Two Resumes in One

Your resume has to be effective during a cursory glance and also the deeper read—essentially, two resumes in one.

The first resume is the most important—it’s the snapshot … and YOU control where the eyes go. Your cursory-glance resume is laid over the entire resume—everything you color, bold, underline, or put in a call-out box is what the eyes are drawn to first—and thus it needs to include the following information for your reader to be “satisfied” at the end of 10 or 15 seconds. These little nuances are extremely powerful:

  • Scale: Include things such as P&L to $600M or budgets to / industry or industries / company sizes / locations: global or national or regional or select: North and South America and Asia Pacific / Teams to 350 / Degrees | Board Positions / Certifications etc.
  • Career Focus and Alignment: The bullets must support the direction you want to go in—not just the successes you have had.If you want to do turnaround work for large corporate divisions you will focus on all the turnarounds, reorganizations and transformations, and re-engineering of processes, setting a company up for sale, etc. Amplify your successes in the direction you want to go. Connect the dots for your reader.
  • Front Load $$%% Metrics: It says to the reader, “Hey, I understand what you want to read because I am a leader.” It sets perception and builds confidence (in you). It also makes the conversation more fluid, creates excitement during the interview, and, at the first read, helps the reader picture you achieving similar results for them.

Tip #3: Design

The reason top executive resume writers pay so much attention to the balance and visual design of a client’s executive resume is because when the resume looks a little different, a little better, at the first glance the reader thinks, “Wow, this looks good … and a little different. So the content must be different too.” And thus, they stay on the page a little longer.

Well-organized information parsed out in sections and given enough white space between bullets, etc. has a similar effect. It makes the document easier to read and assimilate—thereby having a pleasing (not irritating) effect on the reader.

Bonus Tip

Most seasoned, credentialed resume writers “get” these points. Just like any other business investment in graphic design, professional photos, websites etc. “pays off,” investing in a professionally designed resume has the same effect—and usually pays for itself … though it often yields a return on investment many times over!

Mary Elizabeth Bradford is the Founder and Executive Director of CEOresumewriter.com and Maryelizabethbradford.com and a past executive recruiter. A thought leader in the career services industry for over 20 years, she holds 5 distinct advanced certifications for senior-level resume writing, online branding and executive-level job search coaching (CERM, CMRW, CARW, MCD, NCOPE). She has been seen and heard in major media including Forbes, Time, WSJ, Newsweek and NBC affiliate stations. She holds 2 CDI TORI awards and is a top tier judge for the elite CDI TORI awards for four consecutive years. Mary Elizabeth Bradford’s elite team of award-winning, certified, top executive resume writers, former top executive recruiters, and global HR executives help many of the world’s premier C-suite, board members and thought leaders secure the transitions and compensation packages they want. She works with clients all over the globe.

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