How to achieve an engaging executive CV

An expertly written CV is designed to showcase the skills, experiences and successes that you have attained throughout your career.  Fitting these into a CV of no more than two pages is a challenge.  Essentially a sales tool, your CV needs to highlight your greatest accomplishments in the most efficient, yet stand-out, way.

Your CV is not a one size fits all, it needs to be tailored to fit the requirements of the role you are applying for.  Research is therefore key.  Understand what the company is looking for and the challenges they are looking to overcome and align your skills and associated expertise to these requirements.

Four things clients look for are:

  1. Are you successful? Lead with Key Achievements. The first page should have a high level overview of your key achievements, this way you are giving the reader motivation to delve deeper.
  2. Do you have good tenure? We’ve all had bad moves/short stints. Give reasons as to why, to alleviate this potential roadblock. Highlight contracts as well, if this was the case.
  3. Where have you worked? If you’ve worked for well-known brands within your space this can be really powerful, and something that really stands out to hiring managers.
  4. What clients have you sold to/managed? A company will have target accounts and existing clients. Often they are looking for people who have an existing network or knowledge of the organisation’s structure. NDAs sometimes stand in the way, although include deals/projects won, deal sizes and client names.  This highlights the difference between you and A.N.Other.

Format

A CV should sell not tell.  It’s your first chance to sell yourself so you need to differentiate yourself, highlight your successes and make it as impactful as possible. Bullet points, where appropriate, break up paragraphs and highlight key competencies/successes you want to get across. Choose a format that is clear, scannable and provides a template that best showcases your experience and delivers a prospective employer concise information within seconds that entices them to read on.  Formats can be bold but ensure they enhance your resume, rather than detract from the content.  White backgrounds with black, traditional fonts are still considered best practice. A great way to highlight where you have worked and add a bit of colour is to include logos of your previous employers. Not for everyone, but it can really differentiate your profile.

Professional Experience

The more senior you are, the more successes you will no doubt have enjoyed during your career.  The key is selecting which achievements to include.  These highlights should be chosen for their relevancy, in addition to acting as a tool for the recruiter to immediately appreciate your core competencies and successes.  When selecting your achievements, carry out research to understand the challenges faced at your target company and how your skills and expertise can help.  Then, once chosen, showcase your core competencies that most fulfill the hiring company requirements at the top of your CV, as recruiters will scan this section first.

This section should serve to complement your personal statement, which should also be included at the top of the CV and should succinctly cover who you are, what you currently do and a summary of your value proposition.

This will help to format professional experience and render it more readable by breaking up an otherwise lengthy personal statement paragraph into a brief introduction, followed by easily readable and digestible ‘key achievements’.

Quantify Success

Key achievements should be accompanied by a qualifying statement or quantification to provide both clarity and colour to the resume. Where possible, add growth percentages or time efficiencies as a supporting and illustrative measurement of success.  At a senior level, there will be a plethora of illustrative measurements, from budget savings to sales growths.                              Furthermore, clearly word each achievement, outlining the task, the undertaking and the results.

Keep it Concise and Relevant

Any dates further back than 15 years or so should be removed from the CV.  Whilst it is important to include relevant experience and achievements, anything you wish to include can be summarized by a career summary, which can be as simple as a separate list of companies and roles held.  The further up the ladder you rise, the less important detailed inclusion of your education becomes, with the notable exception of advanced degrees and vocational qualifications.

Other Considerations

Social media profiles are now key, with most employers running a search for social media profiles, so ensure social media profiles are up-to-date, on brand and reflect the message presented by your resume.  If you would rather maintain online privacy, ensure your social media security settings are set accordingly.

If applying for a specific role with a specific organisation, maybe take the time to research and see what language the company uses on their social channels, role profiles, website etc. and shape your profile to use their terminology and vernacular. This way you come across as “very on-brand” and psychologically its easier for them to see you as a potential employee.

It goes without saying that proofreading is king. Always ensure someone else checks your finished resume, once you have error-checked the document yourself.  Finally, often overlooked is the contact information, especially if updating an older version of your resume.  Ensure contact information is up-to-date and at the top of each page of the CV.

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