Expert job search advice.

What Should A Modern Executive Resume Include?

Whether updating an old resume or crafting a new one, the first differences one might notice between older and modern examples are those that first meet the eye: formatting, design elements, color, call-out boxes, etc. However, while all of these elements are critically important in guiding the reader’s eye through the content of your resume, it’s also important to not overlook the basics: what content are all these visual cues meant to highlight? What components must a modern executive resume include?

This article is meant to provide you with a checklist of components included in most modern resumes. While there are certainly exceptions and/or additional sections some resumes might feature, the default modern executive resume should aim to include the following. 

Contact Information

Some things don’t change. In both 1990 and 2024, hiring managers need to contact you. Thus, your full name, phone number, and email address should be listed clearly in the main, first-page header of your resume and in the headers of subsequent pages. It’s now also important to provide a hyperlink to your LinkedIn profile.

modern resume design
An Example of Contact Information Included in the Header of a Modern Resume

One thing that has changed from past resume trends is that it is no longer advisable to include your physical mailing address on your resume. This information does not give the reader anything they need – it’s not as if they’ll be mailing you a job offer. What’s more, a physical address may lead to location bias. You wouldn’t want a hiring manager to look up your house on Zillow in order to guess how much you might expect to be paid. For these reasons, it’s best to avoid listing your address altogether.

Modern Resume Header

According to a recent study by Ladders, recruiters spend an average of 7.4 seconds scanning your resume before deciding whether to move on to the next resume or continue reading yours. For this reason, it is important to grab the reader’s attention and quickly spoon-feed them words and phrases they want to see. 

Aside from contact information, most modern resume headers include two important components.

  • First: your aspirational job title. This title should reflect the job you are looking for, as opposed to the job you currently have.
  • Next, the header component. This is typically a subheading that features major keywords, key accomplishments, or a descriptive branding statement. This subheader should exist at the center of a Venn diagram where one circle contains the exact indicators your reader is looking for and the other circle holds your most notable strengths and achievements. 

Again, the goal is to grab the reader’s attention with whatever will keep them reading. It’s also important to point out that each job you apply for can benefit from adjustments to the header. You should always consider customizing the subheader (or even the aspirational job title) to fit the specifics of each job description.

Top Third of Page One (Executive Summary, Highlights & Values)

Once your header has grabbed the reader’s attention, it’s time to give them a more full idea of what they can expect from the rest of your resume. There’s not room in this section to include everything – that’s what the rest of the resume is for. However, just as a movie trailer gives a sense of what it will be like to experience the full film, this section should clearly convey that your resume is one to keep reading.

The first component of this section is the executive summary, which should provide a concise snapshot of your professional background, skills, achievements, and unique value position. This section should typically be 3-5 lines, focus on overarching themes, and establish the brand you wish to further develop throughout the rest of the resume.

As with the header, the executive summary can also be customized to include keywords and phrases from a specific job description. This is yet another opportunity to convey to the reader that yours is the resume they’ve been looking for.

Resume Testimonials

Immediately following the executive summary, most modern resumes include a section using formatting, color, and design to highlight key career highlights, leadership philosophies, areas of expertise, or even testimonials. If your executive summary was a movie trailer, think of this section as a highlight reel. What facts about your career are most important for the reader to know from the outset: this is your chance to frame how they experience the rest of the resume.

It’s also important to note that most modern resumes are designed for layered reading. That is, most hiring managers don’t read every resume from start to finish. Instead, they might first scan the top third, return later to read the resume in more detail, and then return again just before an interview to refresh their memory. For this reason, the top third of your resume may repeat bullets from the later “Professional Experience” section. This is to make sure that whichever section of your resume the reader chooses to focus on, they are always reminded of the most important key points you wish to convey. 

Modern Resume Professional Experience Section

This resume section will appear most familiar to those crafting a modern resume for the first time, as it most resembles more traditional resumes of the past. However, there are still some key differentiators used in the modern resume to streamline storytelling, facilitate layered reading, and reduce strain on the reader’s (no doubt) tired eyes. 

First, each past employer should have its own header with high-level information about the company: type of industry, number of employees, annual revenue, markets served, etc. The header should also include your job title(s), the location of the company’s headquarters, and your dates of employment. (Industry best practice calls for listing years of service, but not the specific months of your start and end dates.) 

Below this header, you’ll want to summarize your job role in 1-3 lines. This is an opportunity to frame the storytelling for the bullets soon to follow and should include what problem(s) you were hired to solve and the key challenges you faced. This is also the best place to list your direct and indirect reports, and budget or P&L responsibilities.

Example of what a Modern Resume should include
Example of what the first page of a Modern Resume should include

Now that you’ve framed the narrative, you’re ready to craft your bullets to highlight key accomplishments. These bullets should provide context for your achievements while maintaining focus on results. Practical frameworks for writing such bullets include the STAR method (situation, task, action, result) and the RAS method (result, action, situation). 

Whichever method you choose, it’s important to include quantifiable results and achievements whenever possible. Put yourself in the shoes of a recruiter. Would your eye be drawn more to the candidate who simply “increased revenue” or the candidate who “increased revenue by $15.5M in 9 months”?

Avoid Clutter in the Experience Section

Of all the sections listed in this article, none have the potential to become more cluttered than the Professional Experience section. This is a great moment to point out that modern resumes are often read on screens (even phones!), making it even more important to utilize spacing to make oft-cluttered resume sections more readable and easier on the eyes. For this reason, consider using keywords from the job description as subheaders for related bullets. (For example, “Collective Bargaining & Union Relationships” or “Sales & Distribution.”)

Throughout this section remember to start bullets with strong and varied action verbs. You’re asking the reader to absorb a lot of information. The key to making that information stick is storytelling through clear, decisive word choice and formatting. 

Education Section

As do traditional resumes, modern executive resumes include your educational information. However, there are a few new best practices to keep in mind in order to keep your resume ATS-friendly and avoid age discrimination. 

  • Be sure to spell out your full degree and the applicable abbreviation (for example, Master of Business Administration (MBA)). This will help with ATS. 
  • Avoid listing graduation dates unless they happen to be very recent. Age discrimination is, unfortunately, very real. There’s no benefit to helping hiring managers guess your age.
  • Ensure all degrees are formatted consistently – in font, color, and boldness and/or italics. 

This section should also include continued education and professional development (certifications, licenses, etc). Include any programs and experiences directly applicable to the job description. 

Board and Volunteer Work

While modern executive resumes do not tend to include personal hobbies, clubs, or religious affiliations (church membership, PTO involvement, Girl Scout leadership, etc.), listing board memberships and volunteer work is an excellent way to give a more holistic picture of your interests and community involvement. As with educational information, be sure to list these roles and organizations with consistent formatting.

Conclusion: A Modern Resume

A modern executive resume uses clear, concise language, structured formatting, and layered storytelling to present your professional experience as a focused, digestible narrative for recruiters and hiring managers. By including each of the components above, you’ll be able to craft a dynamic resume that both provides a testament to past successes and a valuable first impression for future employers.