It goes without saying that competition for executive positions is fierce. A strong history of accomplishment and aptitude are simply table stakes, necessary in gaining consideration for top jobs. Even for talented, tenured individuals entering the C-suite sweepstakes, however, it’s important to remember that presentation is everything. As we screen candidates for high ranking positions there are certain things that cause resumes to stand out. When making your case, take the following advice into account to ensure that you don’t sell yourself short and that your qualifications are given adequate consideration.
Lead With Results
Skills are great but achievements are better, so lead with results. Executive positions are not entry-level so it is expected that you have some impressive victories in your career. While there is nothing wrong with detailing the skills, philosophies and methodologies that enabled you to succeed in previous positions, be sure not to bury the lead. Did you bring profit to a once underperforming division? Did you overhaul a long-troubled system? Make sure to wow us up front with those triumphs. Adjectives are easy to create and can be included later, but accomplishments speak for themselves.
First tell us what you did, then explain how you did it. Don’t forget such career highlights as advanced degrees, media exposure, awards or board appointments. If you’ve done great things, it will be assumed that you are greatly talented. Once you’ve sufficiently impressed with these accolades, we will certainly take the time to read up on the details.
Even if the company you previously worked for is well known, it’s best not to assume that the details of the company’s scope, or the extent of your role in it, are implied. If you headed a department, how many employees did you manage? Was the company international? How many countries did you do business in? What kind of budgets did you work with? Even in instances where the combination of the company’s name and your job title imply great magnitude, be sure to let us know the full story. Anything less risks allowing your accomplishments to be underestimated.
Be Consistent Across Platforms
Have you ever noticed that when a company rolls out a major marketing campaign, the messaging tends to be consistent between various mediums? The TV ads, the online banners, even the contests are on brand and on theme. The same should apply to your personal campaign to achieve high-level employment. If I were to read your resume and follow up by visiting your LinkedIn profile, I should not be reading two different stories. When applicable, an online portfolio should be available as well, highlighting your work in an attractive and easily accessible manner. Of course, these various platforms will highlight you in slightly different formats, but their portrayal of your career should provide complementary, not competing information.
When describing yourself, think about the skills and attributes the position calls for. Visit postings for similar jobs and make a list of traits that employers are seeking. Take note of several that describe you in a way that you’ll be able to demonstrate if called upon to do so. Be honest; if you’re truly a good candidate, you will possess the desired core competencies and you won’t have to fudge this section. Remember to include these phrases in the verbiage of your resume. Consider that in some cases the intelligence browsing your resume will be artificial in nature while at other times it will be human. Write accordingly, ensuring that the proper words are utilized while avoiding the appearance of keyword stuffing.
A Succinct and Focussed Cover Letter
The perfect companion piece to an impressive resume is a well-written cover letter. Less is more. Avoid rambling autobiographies in favor of top line information. Use the cover letter not to convey the details of your many qualifications, but to build interest in your resume and encourage further reading.
When applying for executive positions, the onus is on the candidate to cut through the clutter and demonstrate why they are the right person for the job. Paint a picture of yourself that spotlights a person uniquely suited for the task at hand. Emphasize the quantitative over the qualitative and be respectful without being falsely modest.