Expert job search advice.

How Do You Highlight Skills on an Executive Resume?

Displaying skills on an executive resume poses a unique challenge and offers a distinctive opportunity. The challenge is preventing your resume from reading too junior or technical in a career echelon where the focus is less on highlighting the core competencies that should be a given at the executive stage. The opportunity in highlighting your executive resume skills is that you have yet another key area in which to signal your value proposition. Specifically, your executive resume skills should reveal and emphasize your ability to deliver on your value proposition. This guide aims to equip you with strategies to tailor your expertise, quantify achievements, and avoid common pitfalls, ensuring your resume makes a powerful impression.

Identifying Your Executive Skill Set

To identify your most marketable executive skills, it requires some introspection. You must have a clear understanding of the demands of your industry (or target industries) and actively seek feedback from others to assess your strengths and stay competitive in the job market.

Identify skills to include on executive resume

Key executive resume skills include:

  • Leadership This goes beyond project management to combining operational excellence with people management to mobilize high-performing, often global, teams.
  • Decision-making and Problem-Solving — These are crucial skills for making strategic decisions that significantly impact the organization’s success. These decisions are based on data analysis, emotional intelligence, technical knowledge, and business experience. They also require the confidence to bring a vision to fruition and follow through with the necessary procedures.
  • Communication – Effective communication, both verbal and written, is crucial for conveying ideas, strategies, and goals clearly.
  • Strategic Thinking – Executives must think long-term to navigate the organization through various challenges and changes.
  • Adaptability – Executives must remain flexible and respond to changing environments, markets, and technologies.
  • Financial Acumen – Understanding financial reports and using financial data to make informed decisions is a critical skill for executives.

Read More: What Leadership Skills Should You Include on Your Executive Resume?

Your Executive Skillset is More than Technical Prowess

For an executive, your skillset extends far beyond technical prowess: it encompasses a nuanced blend of hard and soft skills. For leaders more accustomed to refining hard skills, those job-specific skills that require technical knowledge or training, such as programming or accounting, this list might appear skewed to soft skills. There are very good reasons for this. Primarily, lists of top soft skills most often include communication, leadership, problem-solving, adaptability, and emotional intelligence. There are the very skills required for promotion. What happens at the executive level is that leadership must catalyze hard and soft skills to balance both vision and execution.

When identifying your most marketable executive skills, we recommend thoughtful self-assessment, research, and feedback. Reflect on your experiences and strengths. Consider feedback from colleagues, mentors, and past performance evaluations. Research the skills in demand for executive roles in your industry. Look at job postings and industry trends to identify what skills are highly sought after. Use career assessments or feedback tools that help identify strengths and areas for development. Engage with professionals in similar roles or industries to understand the skills valued in executive positions.

Read More: Including Essential Skills on Your Resume

Strategic Customization of Skills on Executive Resume

Matching your skills with the specific needs outlined by each employer requires a discerning eye for detail. Thoroughly analyzing job descriptions allows you to pinpoint key skills, empowering you to prioritize and tailor your resume for each application. This customization significantly amplifies your chances of standing out in a sea of applicants.

Beyond looking for specific keywords or phrases that appear repeatedly in the job description, however, think critically about your value proposition and your branding story. Then, employ the language of the job description to inform how you describe your own skills. If you are building on a concrete skill like agile methodologies in workflows, for example, and you want to build your brand around broader flexibility in thinking, decision-making, or scaled iteration, it makes sense to have a constellation of terms that you can leverage depending on the specific culture in your target role while staying true to what you bring to the table.

Build Your Skills Story

Building your skills story around your achievements will also allow you to prioritize relevant skills more successfully for each application. If you are a revenue powerhouse, for instance, and choose to craft your story around growth-forward business transformation, you’ll be able to quickly scan for skills in a given job description that align with your achievements and add them to your resume for recruiters to identify.

Structuring Skills on Your Executive Resume for Impact

The layout and presentation of your resume play a pivotal role in capturing attention. From an impactful professional summary that encapsulates your career trajectory to a strategically organized showcase of core competencies in bullet-point form, the structure sets the stage for demonstrating your skills in action. Begin by emphasizing readability and an organized layout to ensure easy navigation. You may want to review foundational design principles and ensure your layout balances content with visual “breathing room” for your reader. Best practices do not limit executive resumes to “one-pagers” and using that extra space will allow you to better showcase your skills and achievements.

Craft a concise, professional summary that encapsulates your diverse skill set and professional expertise. Think of this as a “snapshot” of your skills where you hook your audience. Rather than hitting every skill, use this summary to share your primary value proposition, your corroborating achievements, and the skills that made those achievements possible. For example, a senior people manager might include the following line in their professional summary:

“Inspiring people and culture leader with contagious energy and proven track record of guiding teams to achieve massive business growth.”

Your Unique Value Proposition

The value proposition in the above example is a two-parter: it highlights business growth via talent development. The relevant skills are team-building and culture development. The additional skills that are inherent in this value proposition and that can be pulled out next is financial acumen that would then inform the ability to recognize relevant talent as well as the people management and instructional skills to develop those skills in others.

While your professional summary primes the reader, you’ll want to expand and demonstrate your skills through your experience section. It is often too easy to relegate skills to a core competencies list and neglect featuring them throughout your leadership, work, and board experience. A common pitfall in the experience section is filling the space with a list of duties, but if you’ve developed a compelling value proposition and brand story, you’ll instead use your experience section to identify quantifiable achievements aligned with your top skills.

Include Quantifiable Results

Remember, numbers speak volumes. Transforming job responsibilities into quantifiable achievements and incorporating case studies or success stories lend tangible weight to your skills, adding substantial value to your resume. For example, instead of a marketing leader listing:

  • “Launched campaign to increase site traffic.”

A strategic and quantifiable achievement that highlights a skill looks like:

  • “Enabled x2 sales increase in Q2 by increasing site traffic 20% through strategic campaign that employed viral marketing.”

A marketing leader using the above bullet knows how to hook recruiters, hiring managers, and a potential team of various stakeholders by highlighting a critical achievement (increasing sales) through a specific and related achievement (increasing site traffic) that builds on skills in action (strategic campaign that employed viral marketing). All this together adds up to a value proposition and branding story that sounds something like: “Leader who drives growth through innovative marketing campaigns.”

Focus on Achievements

Focusing on how quantifiable achievements and skills build up to your value proposition will set your resume apart. As you craft your materials, also keep in mind these reminders for refining the resume overall:

  • Strategic Language and Keywords: Strategic placement of industry-specific language and keywords heightens the visibility of your resume. However, it’s crucial to balance technical jargon with clear and concise communication to ensure your expertise shines through, resonating with both HR professionals and industry experts.
  • Pitfalls to Avoid: Steer clear of overcrowding your resume with an excess of skills, vague language, or neglecting regular updates. Clarity and relevance should always be prioritized.
  • Finalizing Your Masterpiece: Proofreading and seeking feedback from trusted colleagues or professional services are vital for polishing your final product. A flawless resume significantly enhances your chances of making a lasting impression.

Highlighting Skills on an Executive Resume

The key to highlighting executive resume skills is connecting your skills to your achievements and using these linked elements to build up to your overarching pitch. For executive searches, the focus is on industry-sweeping change at the intersection of hard and soft skills that can be leveraged for meaningful and replicable impact. That’s why your target companies need you.

This guide equips you with strategies to highlight your executive skills on your resume. If you prefer working with a team, our comprehensive consultation services and resources are tailored to assist you.