The Key Element Missing From Your Executive Resume

…and why you need to synthesise, not summarise.

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By Joel Smith

We’ve talked about writing your first resume before. But if you’re writing your executive resume, you probably want to upgrade your existing one for that next promotion or lateral move. So now that competition is that much stiffer, how do you make yourself stand out?

Who is your audience for your executive resume?

We’ve already let you in on the not-so-secret secret: the average time spent on a resume is 6 seconds. This is true even for executive level recruitment – at least for the first look. The key to writing anything is writing for the audience. So now more than ever you need to make sure you’re writing your executive resume for the time poor

Summarising v. synthesising for an executive story

So how do you maximise those 6 seconds? Make sure your strongest selling points are on the first page. A great way to achieve this is with a well written and tailored qualifications summary.

A what?

A qualifications summary.

Qualifications Summary

After you’ve written out your jobs from newest to oldest with your duties and achievements, go take a look over it again. What is the common thread between these jobs? What is the skill set you’ve developed? And how does the skill set make you perfect for the job you’re applying for?

By answering these questions, you will start to synthesise a story for your executive resume. This won’t just summarise, but guide your audience to understand how you add value in their organisation.

Some examples qualification summaries

Once you’ve answered these questions, create a qualification summary at the top of page one and write out your ideas.

We’ll provide an example below so you can get the idea, but this section must:

  • be individualised
  • reflect the employment history you outline underneath it, 
  • be relevant for the job you’re applying for. 

Otherwise, you will end up with a generic list of skills that could apply to anyone.

You should end of with four or more key skills that thread through your career, that might look something like this:

Have you had a long career in one industry, developed expertise, and are looking to continue in that industry with a new organisation?

MINING EXPERTISE: Over 30 years’ experience working in the mining sector with over 7 years’ in senior management positions.

Did you list key achievements for three or more of your previous positions which involved delivering successful organisational change projects?

LEADERSHIP: Demonstrated ability to drive organisational change through the implementation of strategic projects which enhance key business outcomes.

Have you held three or more previous positions which involved largescale stakeholder engagement activities?

STAKEHOLDER MANAGEMENT: Demonstrated ability to effectively manage internal and stakeholders at all levels including government officials, industry representatives, and special interest groups.

Have you worked in several highly analytical roles, for example in business intelligence, audit, or evaluation?

ANALYSIS: Highly skilled in analysing information from a strategic viewpoint, identifying all risks, challenges and limiting barriers, and drawing information from a wide range of sources to support efficient and effective resource management, budgeting, and other strategic and operational matters.

Other elements of an executive resume

You can apply this thought process to the rest of your executive resume

Don’t list every job and every achievement. You can have a table which outlines your complete career history, but you should only detail the jobs and achievements that create a complete picture of your skillset. You don’t have to list your year 12 certificate at this point. But you should include your Bachelor of Finance, Master of Business Administration, and recent executive leadership courses.

Remember that what you exclude can be as important as what you include. And exclusions will be necessary if you want your executive resume to give a picture of who you are in just 6 seconds

Remember that if you’re not sure how you’re faring, you can ask us for a free resume report any time!