As an executive, you’ve likely spent countless hours making tough decisions, solving complex problems, delivering inspiring speeches, and crafting well-written emails. But when it comes to writing an executive resume, it suddenly seems like all of your eloquence and prowess have disappeared.
That’s why we created this article—to help you effortlessly navigate the waters of resume writing. If you want to break out of the mold of the usual stiff phrases and overused jargon and instead create a standout document that grabs attention, you’re in the right place.
We’re going to teach you how to craft a professional document that highlights your skills and experience while showcasing just enough personality to portray you as the capable, multi-dimensional executive that you are.
An executive resume should be a professional document with the chronological format and a content-oriented layout.
Your resume should be one page long, but if you have an extensive work history, you can make it two or even three pages.
Make your most impressive achievements stand out immediately by listing them right after your resume summary, in the “selected achievements” section.
List a combination of hard and soft skills in a dedicated section, and then prove your abilities by mentioning them next to related accomplishments in your summary, selected achievements, and work experience sections.
What Makes an Executive Resume Unique?
Considering that you’re applying for a position as an executive, you likely have plenty of experience working various other jobs. As a result, you know that the executive’s role is quite different from other positions, which is why the executive resume should be unique as well.
Some differences are small, while others are rather prominent, but knowing them can help you create an impeccable document. Some of the most important differences are:
How to Make Your Exectutive Resume Unique
Your resume can be longer than usual. The majority of resumes should be one page long, as the goal is to convey as much information as briefly and concisely as possible. While the same principles apply to the executive resume, you can extend its length to two—or even three—pages if you have enough high-quality achievements to showcase.
The layout should be content-oriented. Some candidates tend to be creative when crafting their resumes. They might opt for original fonts or colorful graphics to get their points across. However, as an executive, you want a clean and professional black-and-white resume layout that puts your accomplishments front and center.
Every bit of your resume should be fine-tuned and tailored to the position. As an executive, you likely have an extensive professional history with plenty of achievements to showcase and skills to demonstrate. However, a lot of them might not be relevant to the position that you’re applying for. Focus only on what recruiters want to see, and you’ll have their attention.
You need to make your achievements truly stand out. Your goal is to make your work as prominent as possible. To do that, you can include an executive resume-specific “Selected Achievements” section near the top of your document. Give recruiters your strongest feats right off the bat, and they’ll keep reading your resume.
What is the Right Format to Use for an Executive Resume?
Two important features of your executive resume are its format and layout.
A resume format represents the way you organize information to present it to recruiters and potential employers. This arrangement of information is also important for the ATS, which can be set up to look for specific details in particular areas of your resume.
That said, the best format for your executive resume is the chronological resume format. It puts your latest job first and then lists the rest in descending order. That makes it perfect for candidates with a long and steady professional history.
If you feel like you’ll have better chances by highlighting your impressive skill set, you can choose the combination resume format. You can use this format to emphasize some of your most prominent abilities while backing each one of them up with relevant workplace accomplishments.
The layout of your resume refers to its visual appearance. You want a clean and professional document that is easy to read and skim through. You can achieve that by following these guidelines:
Resume Layout Guidelines
And remember, if you can’t fit everything on one page, your executive resume can be two or even three pages long, but don’t go beyond that.
What Sections Should an Executive Resume Contain?
There are two types of sections that go into an executive resume.
Mandatory sections are:
Optional sections include:
Hobbies and interests
Now, even though you have all the sections outlined here, it’ll likely take you a lot of time to create your document from scratch—especially if this is your first time learning how to write an executive resume. But what if we told you that the whole process could be done in minutes?
By using our resume-builder, you’ll be able to create a job-winning resume with little effort and in a fraction of the time it’d take you to craft one from the ground up.
The process is simple. You can browse our modern executive resume templates until you find the one that suits you. Then just fill in the blanks with your information while using an extensive set of commands to adjust every aspect of your resume before downloading a submission-ready file.
Executive Resume Contact Information
Let’s start the resume-building process with a straightforward section that is your contact information. Its purpose is to give recruiters and potential employers the option of reaching out to you. That’s why you should include the following details in your resume header:
Optionally, you can also include:
Location, but only if the job ad asks for it or if you’re applying for a job abroad.
LinkedIn profile, portfolio, personal website URL, or similar links.
Here’s what that looks like in an example:
Chief Executive Officer
+ 530 897 3992
Los Angeles, CA
Executive Resume Summary
Your resume summary is usually your first real contact with recruiters, where you get to show off some of your skills and achievements. As such, it’s one of the most important sections, as its purpose is to grab their attention and convince them to examine the rest of your resume.
As a result, the resume summary belongs near the top of the document, and it should be a concise but information-packed paragraph. Your goal is to emphasize the experience you have, your skills, and your notable accomplishments in 2–4 sentences. In essence, you’re giving recruiters and potential employers a brief summary of your resume.
Here’s a well-written example of an executive resume summary:
“CEO with 15+ years of executive and managerial experience in the real estate business. Managed a $30M portfolio of real estate holdings, investing in up to 30 properties per year, obtaining an average ROI of 63%. Winner of the 2021 Commercial Real Estate Executive of the Year award.”
Now compare that mind-blowing resume summary to the following poorly-written one that doesn’t offer any substance:
“Proficient CEO with years of experience in the field looking to help your company achieve new heights.”
Executive Resume Selected Achievements Section
Selected achievements is an optional—but highly recommended—section for high-level executives that you should include right after your resume summary. It works in tandem with your summary to point out your outstanding accomplishments and set you apart from the competition.
After all, you're undoubtedly a highly skilled and competent candidate, but so are many others who are competing for the same position. That's why you want to put your best foot forward with 2–5 bullet points that neatly represent the highlights of your career before your work history.
Here’s a good example:
“Proficient CEO with years of experience in the field looking to help your company achieve new heights.”
Executive Resume Work Experience
Your work experience section will be the biggest and most important part of your resume, so let’s see how to make it perfect.
For starters, let’s define a structure that you can follow. For each previous job, you should include the following details:
The company and its location
Your dates of employment
Achievements and results obtained
Now, even though you could likely fill pages upon pages with a comprehensive list of your accomplishments, you should generally stick with 3–5 bullet points per job. Highlight only the most impressive successes that are most relevant to the position that you’re applying for.
Speaking of relevance, your recent jobs are usually more significant than those you had 5 or 10 years ago. That’s why you should have the most comprehensive list for your latest employment.
To make your accomplishments truly pop, consider these tips:
Avoid including everyday tasks and responsibilities and focus on exceptional feats and performances instead.
Use numbers, statistics, and percentages to add measurable value to your results and achievements, thus making them quantifiable and concrete.
Include notable action verbs and power words such as “conceptualized,” “spearheaded,” and “facilitated.”
Executive Resume Work Experience Section Example
Now let’s put everything that we’ve learned into practice and see an example of a senior executive’s resume work experience section:
Black and Gold Corporation
New York, NY
Increased company’s revenue by 17% in the last fiscal year by developing and implementing strategic plans.
Managed a team of 150+ employees, overseeing business operations and ensuring successful and timely delivery of services.
Increased market share by 41% and expanded the company’s geographic reach by negotiating and acquiring new key partnerships.
Developed and implemented cost-saving measures, reducing operational expenses by 11% while maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction.
Spearheaded the successful launch of five products, resulting in a 23% increase in product revenue within their first year.
Senior Director of Sales
July 2014–August 2018
Maintained a customer retention rate of 95% with high levels of client satisfaction.
Conceptualized and implemented a customer loyalty program, increasing customer lifetime value by 17%.
Implemented new marketing strategies to boost lead generation by 33% and increase conversion rates by 25%.
Executive Resume Education Section
The education section is another mandatory part of your resume that should come after your work history. However, with the years of experience that you have and plenty of palpable results to show for it, you should focus on that and keep your education section brief. Only include the necessary details, which are:
The institution issuing it
Years of attendance
If you have more than one degree at the same level, you should list both, starting with the most recent one. Otherwise, simply include your highest degree. There’s no need to add your high school diploma to an executive resume.
Here’s an example:
Masters of Business Administration
Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
Executive Resume Skills
After your work history, your skills are the next most important part of your resume. A strong skill set can single-handedly set you apart from the competition. However, you need to know how to showcase it properly.
For starters, you want to add only those skills that are relevant to the position since those are what the recruiters are going to look for. By reading the job description and looking into the company, you’ll discover which abilities are needed for the role that you’re applying for.
The skills section should include a solid combination of technical (hard) skills as well as transferable (soft) skills. However, while creating a list of these skills is important, it’s only half the job.
You also need to demonstrate your competence and prove your skills. To do that, mention some of the most important abilities in your resume summary, selected achievements, and work experience sections. Connect them with related achievements, and you’ll make them substantial in the eyes of recruiters and potential employers.
Hard skills depend on the line of work that you’re in. Some of them that you can add to your resume are:
Budgeting and finance
Most of your soft skills will likely be related to leadership and management. Here are some of the most sought-after soft skills to add to your executive resume:
Senior leadership skills
Executive Resume Optional Sections
When the competition is strong, those who go the extra mile and show more than what’s necessary usually come out on top. That’s why optional sections can be a powerful tool in your arsenal.
What’s more sought-after than a highly-skilled and knowledgeable executive?
The answer is—an award-winning one that has been recognized for their excellence! That’s why you should briefly list any notable awards obtained, along with the dates and institutions or organizations issuing them.
Certifications demonstrate a commitment to professional development. They also represent proof of specific skills or knowledge relevant to the field that you’re in. A brief list of relevant certifications and the institutions issuing them goes a long way toward setting you apart from the competition.
Language proficiency is vital for executives who work for companies that operate globally or have international clients. When adding language skills to your resume, you should choose a standard framework to indicate exact levels of proficiency and start with the one you’re most competent in.
By adding a list of C-suite memberships to your executive resume, you highlight your willingness to engage in industry-related events and activities. That demonstrates high levels of commitment to the craft and shows that you’re up-to-date with the latest trends and developments.
Hobbies & Interests
The hobbies and interests section represents a hidden gem in resume-building. It allows you to show your character and personality in an otherwise formal and professional document.
They can also indicate traits or abilities that are useful in the workplace, such as leadership, teamwork, or creativity. You should keep this section brief and only list activities that you’re truly passionate about.
Should You Submit a Cover Letter With Your Executive Resume?
You should always submit a cover letter with your executive resume unless the employer specifically asks you not to. The benefits of doing so far outweigh the trouble of writing a cover letter.
For starters, the mere act of submitting a cover letter displays strong ambition, as not every candidate does it. Moreover, you get a 3–5 paragraph document that allows you to personally address recruiters, creating a strong connection right from the start. Finally, you also get more space to talk about your skills and accomplishments.
Expert Tips for Creating an Executive Resume
Here are a few final expert tips to help you harness the full power of your executive resume:
When submitting a soft copy of your resume, in most cases, you should go with a PDF file (unless the job ad asks otherwise). It might be tempting to use an executive resume Word template and submit an MS file, but PDF preserves its formatting across any device.
LinkedIn is the most popular business networking platform, and many recruiters use it to check out potential candidates’ profiles. That’s why you should make an effort to optimize your profile and add it to the contact information section of your executive resume.
Even though your executive resume can be longer than usual, if it’s just barely two pages long, see if you can cut some content or use different formatting to fit everything on one page.
A well-written executive resume opens doors, leads to exciting new opportunities, and helps you stand out from the crowd of other candidates. While it can be challenging to get every part of it right, the trouble is more than worth it.
By following the rules and guidelines outlined in this article, you’ll not only create a professional resume; you’ll get an eye-catching document that’s far beyond the boring, cookie-cutter stuff the majority of candidates submit.
A bit of effort you put into demonstrating your skills and experience while injecting your resume with just a tad of personality will go a long way and pay off in the end. Best of luck!