Expert job search advice.

How to Write a Senior Executive Resume

For experienced professionals, simply dusting off the resume you used three jobs ago will not suffice in helping you stand out from the crowd in today’s competitive job market. Understanding how to write a senior executive resume will help you demonstrate your relevance to the job, showcase your personal brand to help employers determine if you align with their corporate culture, highlight your achievements, and make a strong impression within your network or when passing through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) for online job searches. This article aims to guide you in crafting an impressive senior executive resume.

Capture the Readers Attention

A recent study showed that recruiters look at candidates’ resumes for an average of seven seconds before deciding to read on or pass. That’s seven seconds to make an impression. For senior-level roles, recruiters face the challenge of talent scarcity, high expectations among disparate stakeholders, including board members, CEOs, and other senior leaders, adapting to constantly evolving industry landscapes, and evaluating soft skills, such as emotional intelligence, cultural fit, and interpersonal skills.

Challenges for Senior Executives

Meanwhile, senior executives are facing challenges in 2024, too. The economic downturn in 2023 meant many companies were forced to reduce their workforces. As senior executives pursue fewer available roles in a hesitant job market, they’ll also need to consider how to compete with other qualified candidates, whether age discrimination could be a factor, and how to navigate industry transitions. Tailoring your resume to your targeted industry and position – along with other best practices – can help move your resume into the “yes” pile.

Appeal to the Reader: Your Target Audience

A standout executive resume should be visually appealing and reader-friendly. Though there are many options for presenting your personal branding, some elements are must-haves: your contact information, including name, phone number, email, a working link to your LinkedIn profile, and sometimes your city and state (never your full address), professional summary, and employment history.

Draw Reader in with Design Elements

Using color to highlight specific details, whether in text or by adding shading or lines, can add visual interest and bring the reader’s eye to impactful details. However, maintaining plenty of white space – not cramming the page full of text – is also an impactful way to make your resume easy to digest.

Here is an example of design elements used when writing a senior executive resume.

example of how to write a senior executive resume
This illustrates how design elements can influence a reader’s preference for one document over another. Both resumes (the one on the right and the one on the left) contain identical wording, with the only distinction being the design elements used.

Organize Resume into Sections

Excellent executive resumes are also organized into sections such as Career Highlights, Skills or Competencies, Speaking Engagements, and Awards to highlight key achievements and skills at a glance.

These sections, which are a potent use of the top third to half of the first page to capture the recruiter’s attention but which could also appear throughout the resume, are easy places to use selected keywords that align with the job you’re seeking and should be customized later for each potential role.

Inclusion of a Professional Summary on a Senior Executive Resume

A professional summary, which appears just below your contact information, vastly differs from the outdated career objectives trend. It captures a recruiter’s attention by offering a balance of your field of expertise, industry, key skills, and accomplishments while offering a glimpse into your personality and leadership style. The professional summary should be concise, three to four lines. Consider: What are you best known for? How would peers describe you?

Showcase Your Achievements

Showcasing your achievements and the impact of your work within the employment history section of your resume is another highly impactful way to differentiate yourself from other senior executive candidates. Who would you want to hire: someone who claims to have increased revenue or someone who increased revenue by $10 million in 8 months? Keeping track or looking back to quantify your results, and then aligning those results to the needs of the potential role, will put you a step ahead of other applicants. Providing context to these accomplishments by concisely including how you achieved business results and growth can deliver more value to the bullets in your employment history section.

Write Result-Rich Bullet Points

Some frameworks for crafting bullet points to describe your successes include the STAR (situation, task, action, and result) and RAS (result, action, and situation) methods. While successes related to the bottom line, business growth, or operational efficiency are important, for senior executive jobseekers, employers will also want to see people-related metrics that indicate people like working for you, such as employee engagement or staff retention stats.

Examples of results-oriented resume bullet points:

  • Grew accounts by 20% YOY from $3M to $30M through refined sales strategy targeting distributors.
  • Restructured 4 acquired teams to optimize performance with 95% talent retention.
  • Accelerated revenue by 250% by devising channel strategy, installing hungry sales team and teaching solution-based selling.
  • Maintained high brand affinity (70 NPS score) during accelerated growth phase by focusing on upgraded customer experience.

Employment Experience Section

There are different formats for executive resumes, and most commonly, the employment experience section of a resume is in reverse chronological order and includes each company’s name, a short information line to provide context to the company’s industry, size, and customers, the job title, and dates of employment. Typically, the current or most recent job gets the most space to showcase its relevance to the targeted role.

Address Career Challenges if Applicable

Knowing how to handle career challenges on a resume can also make your job-seeking process easier. Though candidates should never lie, there are strategies to address employment gaps, career transitions or limited experience. The best practice for employment dates is to include only years and not months. For short gaps, including only the years will make a few months between jobs virtually disappear. You may consider whether side projects could be grouped together in a consulting or self-employed role for longer breaks. Sometimes a simple line of explanation, such as Sabbatical to New Zealand, 2017-2018, or Full Time Caregiver, 2014-2017, is enough. Hiring managers and recruiters are humans, too, and tend to prefer honesty.

Showcase Transferrable Skills

Showcasing transferrable skills is critical for candidates looking to shift industries or career tracks. For example, a marketing executive looking to move into human resources might highlight the times she restructured her teams and the professional development program she started. A candidate with multiple shorter-term job stints may consider including information about his designated projects coming to a close.

Write a Targeted Senior Executive Resume

Whether you are addressing tricky situations or simply looking for the next step, tailoring the resume to your targeted industry and position is imperative. Throughout your resume, you should ensure that your word choices, tone, and branding match with the industry. Take a look at job descriptions for roles you might consider: do you see any consistent requirements or skills? Use them in your resume.

You could also try asking AI for skills expected for your next role. Have you positioned yourself to be at the forefront of innovation in your industry? For example, using machine learning to streamline operations or advanced analytics to predict talent risks. Highlight areas that show you are ready to handle what’s next in your field. Even your font and color choices convey information. A traditional Serif font and muted colors may suit a more conservative industry, while a simple sans Serif font and brighter hues are the way to go for a high-tech or creative role.

Beware of Typos on your Resume

Writing a senior executive resume takes a lot of time, research, and reflection. Don’t let a typo undo your hard work. Proofreading is important to ensure a flawless and error-free resume. Common mistakes include misspelled words, inconsistent use of periods (using them for some bullets but not others), inconsistent formatting (too many font sizes or too many bullet types), and inaccurate dates. While a proofreading website like may show grammatical errors. A trusted friend, colleague or career coach can help ensure your resume is the best reflection of you.

Update Frequently

We recommend that professionals update their resumes continually. Establishing and maintaining a system for collecting work accomplishments will make this process easier.

A well-crafted senior executive resume that is organized, tailored to your desired role, and clearly articulates your value proposition and accomplishments is a vital first step in securing an interview for your next career advancement. We encourage you to use the guidance in this article to create a powerful resume that stands out in this competitive job market.



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