Website Template

The Executive Resume - How is it Different?

All resumes need to stand out from the crowd in order to be effective, but the executive resume really needs to catch the eye because the competition is so fierce and the number of jobs limited. At this level, the importance of each section, each choice of wording or format, is magnified. That’s why having a professional prepare the resume is so important.

Surveys of hiring managers, HR professionals, and senior recruiters (the people who see your resume first and decide if you’re a worthy candidate for an interview), show certain trends in what they don’t like to see when it comes to executive resumes. These include:

Top Dislikes:

Excessive wordiness. Most hiring professionals prefer a 2-page resume, and most won’t read anything longer than 3 pages. If a candidate can’t distill their experience down to the important facts, odds are they aren’t skilled in self-assessment, which is a vital quality in all leaders.

A weak Summary. This is the first section someone reads on the resume. It should be concise and filled with strong statements that showcase the applicant’s skills and experience, not a wishy-washy paragraph of bland corporate buzz words that mean nothing.

Indications of age. The moment readers see a statement like “30 years of experience in...” they will most likely move on to the next resume. When it comes to leadership, youth is thought of as equaling energy and forward-thinking; sure, experience matters, but in today’s electronic age companies tend to overlook people with too much of it.

Lack of results. Too many applicants make this mistake. They list all of their job functions but they don’t provide quantifiable results or indicate how their work helped the company grow or resolve problems. An effective executive resume will spend more time on what you’ve achieved rather than what your responsibilities were, because this is the information that shows how good you are at what you do.

Listing too many jobs. A good resume only goes back 15 years or so; 20 if the earlier jobs were still at the executive level. Beyond that, anything else should be summarized or omitted.

Including information that isn’t applicable to the job search or position. For instance, you might be a marathon runner, a tennis pro, or a part-time singer. But unless you’re looking for a job in one of those areas, listing those hobbies doesn’t mean anything to the person interviewing you. Use that space on the resume for something that speaks to your business or leadership abilities instead.

Cluttered formats. While an executive resume needs to stand out, it shouldn’t be an eyesore. Colored boxes, graphs, charts, and icons have no place on a resume. Save those for handouts you can bring to an interview. The best resumes are clean, simple, and easy to read, with sleek aesthetics that set it apart from others. Subtle use of color are good; just enough to draw the eye to the most important sections.

Remember the audience. HR professionals and recruiters only spend 30 seconds or so perusing a resume the first time, so you have to Wow! them right away. The top third of the first page should grab their interest and make them want to read the rest of the document.

Omitting contact information. It’s not necessary to include your street address, but you should always list your city and state, plus a phone number, email address, and LinkedIn address (if you have one).

The resume isn’t ATS friendly. Most HR offices and recruiters use automatic tracking systems (ATSs) to store and search through resumes. If your resume isn’t ATS-friendly, it will either not show up in searches or it will pop up looking garbled, with all the information jumbled together and impossible to read. At, we always make sure the resumes are ATS-friendly.