Work experience, professional experience, work history, professional highlights…whatever you call this section of your resume, it is probably going to be one of the longer and more comprehensive sections. When you’re writing an executive resume, you have reached the point in your career where you have quite a bit to say about your career. Job titles, companies worked for, and your basic professional skills and accomplishments make it easy to fill two, or even three pages, of a resume for an executive-level position. Never mind adding in education sections, a branding statement, etc., etc.
To make yourself stand out from your competition and impress your potential employer, here are a few tips you can implement when writing your executive resume.
1) Get Outside Input
Before you even get started writing your executive resume, have conversations with trusted colleagues, friends, or family members who are familiar with your career history. Ask them questions about what they think have been some of your most impressive accomplishments, or even which jobs you’ve held or companies you’ve worked at most stand out to them. Ask them why. Pose an open-ended question to them—even something as broad as, “What do you think about my career?” Ask colleagues who know your industry to discuss what they see as your strengths within the industry.
Why should you do this when you certainly know your work history better than anyone? While you certainly know the names, dates, responsibilities, titles, etc. of your professional experience, you—like everyone—have blinders on when it comes to an objective, outside perspective. Gathering information from outside sources can provide you with information about your career and your strengths you never even realized you had. People you talk to might use phrases or words you never would have otherwise come up with in relation to you and your career accomplishments.
A fresh perspective can go a long way toward inspiring how you approach your writing, and for the work experience section of an executive resume you need to take an invigorated, fresh approach. Cliché words and phrases won’t do, nor just dates worked, nor will simply listing tasks and responsibilities. By incorporating ideas and perspectives from a number of trusted people in your work experience section, you will have a unique voice that shines through and keeps a potential employer interested as they read through.
2) Tell the Story of Your Success
Once you have the outside input and start writing, you need to focus on more than just listing accomplishments, skills, responsibilities, and dates. Think of the work experience section of your resume as telling the story of your career,–as exciting and compelling a story as it can be.
While the format of this section might be partially comprised of bullet point lists, each of those points needs to help frame your value as a potential employee and serve as a reason for a recruiter or hiring manager to want to keep reading and learn more about you.
To do this, focus on your accomplishments, not just your job duties. Did you manage people? So did most every other executive-level applicant. Talk about what the team you managed achieved under your leadership.
You may need to start out by listing job duties and responsibilities, and then go through each to suss out which accomplishments you achieved in carrying out the responsibilities of your job. If you’ve been keeping a list of accomplishments and achievements all along and have this to pull from, great! If not, make a list before you begin and then play around with the wording of each to help pull the reader in.
When you keep a hiring manager interested and they want to keep reading – that’s how you know your resume is standing out.
3) Get Rid of the Words You Think a Potential Employer Wants to Hear
So you want your resume to stand out? I mean, really stand out? Be different.
No, I don’t mean cover your resume in glitter or use Comic Sans font. I mean use different words—strong words—not the same old words that every recruiter and hiring manager sees literally a hundred times a day. I am speaking from experience here, having worked in human resources for years before becoming a professional resume writer and starting Great Resumes Fast.
Yes, there is value in using industry keywords and keywords that are mentioned directly within the job description. In fact, you should use these kinds of keywords, even if only to help get your resume past an applicant tracking system. Look here for effective keywords broken down by industry.
However, you should not include words and phrases in your work experience section just because you see them on other resumes and think they belong there. Phrases like:
● Tasks included
● Strong leadership
● Effective communicator
When you are describing your work experience, you might be tempted to include these words as descriptors, or even as standalone skills to meet the requirements for a particular job. Instead, incorporate these traits into your storytelling. SHOW how you were a strong leader. SHOW how you were detail-oriented. Don’t just say you were a professional whatever, use your actual job title. Don’t start a descriptive section about a job with “Responsibilities included.” As I said above, to stand out, your work experience section needs to be filled with tangible accomplishments.
Anyone can Google buzzwords and jargon—only you can tell the story of your unique work history and how it will be of value to a prospective employer.
4) Read Your Resume Through the Eyes of a Hiring Manager
Once you’ve got a draft of your resume done, or even a portion of your work experience section done, read it again—but this time think like the hiring manager. As you read, ask questions about each line like: “How does this help ME?” “How does this help the company?” “Is this different from the last three resumes I read?” “Do I really understand why this accomplishment matters?”
And then, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite until you can read through your resume, ask those questions, and be satisfied that the answers make you stand out as a candidate.
An accomplishment that you are especially proud of from ten years ago just might not be as impressive to someone looking to hire an executive right now. By focusing your resume on the needs of the employer, rather than what stands out to you as the impressive parts of your career, you will be making the work experience section of your resume much more powerful.
A Professional Resume Writer Knows How to Make Your Executive Resume Stand Out
The value of having a resume that stands out is clear, and while it is absolutely possible to write an impressive executive resume on your own, there are many reasons why a professional writer might be the best choice for you. Time, for one. Secondly, it’s an investment in your career.
We don’t rely on “copy and paste” or on templates—instead we provide personalized service that includes an in-depth conversation to determine the most important aspects of your career history and your career goals. This way, we can make every section of your resume stand out to recruiters and prospective employers.
Are you tired of your resume being rejected by applicant tracking systems? I know how frustrating it is to submit your resume and receive no response. I hate seeing qualified people never breakthrough the screening process. It shouldn’t be that way. That’s why I created this guide and I encourage you to download the FREE PDF so you can start seeing better resume response rates!
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About the author
Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast
Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.
What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.
You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!
I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!
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