CV Best Practices for Sr. Level Executives in 2018 and beyond

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Trends in CVs and Resumes for Senior Level Executives and Consultants (Keywords, Hyperlinks)

While an increasing number of recruiters seeking to fill c-suite positions are utilizing on-line resources and social media to find candidates, resumes remain the primary means of applying even among executives. Resumes need to be concise, demonstrating the candidate's experience with strong, action-oriented statements which are tailored to match the keywords associated with the position. Social media sites, and Linkedin in particular, effectively become the candidate's curriculum vitae (CV), telling their "full story" without the necessary constraints of the resume format.
Below you will find a deep dive of our findings.
A recent Forbes article notes, "Despite evolving job search tactics, the traditional resume remains one of the most important tools in the job search toolbox. In 2018, executives will be able to locate, create and apply to positions in a variety of ways, but at some point in the hiring process, a resume is likely to be requested." In fact, most of the advice for crafting a successful c-suite resume would be suitable for creating a resume for any other position.
For example, keep the resume short and sweet. Customize the content of a resume, the "details, results, facts, skills and keywords," for the position. "Readers are short on time and want to know 'what’s in it for me' -- fast... So tell them, removing anything that doesn’t directly support the case." Use bite-sized chunks of information instead of densely-packed, hard-to-read paragraphs.
As with any resume, the goal is to make the applicant's value known. This is best communicated by proving one's claimed experience and success using strong, front-loaded statements.

Forbes gives an example of a weak statement: "Employed excellent communication skills to successfully lead a team through the creation and delivery of a new marketing strategy, which produced significant revenues."
Instead, Forbes says, put the results first: "Generated $6 million in new revenues in just 18 months by directing a team of 20 to create and execute a new marketing strategy." Lead with action-oriented words like "Developed, Produced, Reduced, Yielded, Consolidated, Engineered, Executed, Spearheaded, Launched" and "Implemented."
Posted job openings and descriptions usually contain the significant keywords that the recruiter will be searching for. It is therefore vital to study the job position and use the right keywords in the resume and make sure that it will pass the filter of an automated Applicant Tracking System (ATS). There are some keywords that should appear on nearly every executive's resume. According to both Top Resume Pros and Do My Resume, these include "Revenue Growth and Profit Maximization, Organization Leadership, Corporate Administration, Budgeting & Finance, New Business Development, Performance Optimization, P&L Responsibility," and "Strategic Planning."
Many executives are still using "dangerously old-fashioned" resumes at a time when the majority of recruiters are using social media to recruit, from Linkedin to Twitter to simply Googling for prospective candidates. (For this reason, the more savvy executives maintain separate professional and personal social media pages.) Given the necessity of keeping a resume short and to-the-point, having a Linkedin page serves the purpose of a CV, telling the applicant's whole story. This means that it is vital to present the right image: "You need to get your brand and value proposition together before moving them online, so that you send a clear consistent message across all channels," Executive Career Brand explains. "Slapping up a LinkedIn profile, other social media profiles, a website, or web portfolio before doing the initial branding, targeting and research work is a mistake."
Since a majority of recruiters are finding candidates for executive positions through their social media, [3] it's a good idea to include the URLs to one's Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook page on the resume. While hyperlinks (for example, embedded in a PDF) can save the recruiter a lot of typing (and may be vital in the case of long URLs), they may be lost if the ATS converts the resume to a plain-text format, so the full URL should always be provided. While some sources also advise providing links to other relevant information and sources, URLs and hyperlinks should be used only in moderation.
Sometimes it is necessary to add an addendum to the resume, "a one page document that is added to expand upon specified skills or workplace experience in further detail," usually unique or at least highly specific areas of expertise. Most addendums are technical, which would rarely if ever come into play for an executive resume, but "certifications, professional training, professional associations, board memberships, awards and community work" can also be presented. Addendums should be used sparingly, if at all, and should never include job information or exceed one page in length.
The current best practices for applying for a c-suite position are to submit a resume which is tailored to the position. That resume should contain a URL to the applicant's Linkedin page, which can be used to present a more detailed curriculum vitae. Other social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, should also be maintained in a professional manner, as these have become major recruiting and vetting tools.
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Trends in CVs and Resumes for Senior Level Executives and Consultants (Look and Feel)

Current trends in Executive Level resumes include customized content, branding statements and value propositions, proving claims and leading with results, and adapting to ATS. Our research revealed that CVs are used primarily in countries outside of the United States. For those used in the US, they are used for niche groups such as academia and medicine. Since the research criteria stated focus should be in the US and should not apply to particular segments or groups, we focused on resumes rather than CVs. Below is an overview of each trend, as well as trends in design and items that should no longer be included in a resume.


It is estimated that employment decision makers only scan a resume for about 10 seconds before deciding to discard or continue reading. These hiring managers do not have time to dig for content. Therefore, it is imperative that the resume grab the readers attention immediately. The following trends will help job seekers write and design resumes that will attract notice.

Customized Content

Each resume should be customized for each job in order to address the particular needs of the employer. Everything in the resume must align with what the employer is looking for and speak to them individually. It should be customized not just for the position, but also with the reader in mind. The writer should consider whether the resume is going directly to a hiring manager or through a recruiter first. If it is going through a recruiter, the writer needs to decide what content will compel the recruiter to send the resume to the next level, as well as what the next reader will want addressed.

Content should be succinct. Hiring managers do not have a lot of time to search for relevant content. Details, results and facts should be presented by removing anything that does not prove the case or add value. Less is more. Only the top 10-15 achievements should be included. Show uniqueness and vitality by writing from a first person point of view using strong verbs such as pioneered, envisioned, and leveraged. [5]

Branding Statements/Value Propositions

Every resume must demonstrate the value of the job seeker. A branding statement or value proposition should be given at the beginning and then infused throughout the rest of the resume. Personal branding is not an option anymore. It is what sets the job seeker apart from other candidates. It should be consistent throughout the presentation as well as in other areas that may be visible to a potential employer including online profiles such as Linkedin.

Key content and value should appear in the top 1/3 of the resume. This is considered the 'prime real estate' of the resume. How the candidate can provide an ROI by meeting the needs of the reader, should be addressed immediately. The candidate should clearly explain their 10% difference and how they can solve issues faced by the reader. Benefits rather than experience should be highlighted. It is important for the job seeker to be themselves, showing their authentic personality.

Prove Claims/Lead with Results

Supporting evidence for each claim must be included. This should be in the form of metrics, quantifiable numbers, or measurable impacts. Statements should lead with results rather than using end-loaded statements. Accomplishment driven stories should be used to demonstrate worth. These stories should follow a Challenge, Actions, Results framework using specific examples to prove the claims.

Adapt for ATS

Many organizations use Applicant Tracking Systems to scan resumes. Therefore, resumes must be ATS compliant. If the resume is not formatted in the right way then it may be overlooked regardless of the qualifications. Every ATS is different, so it is critical to have a good understanding of how they work.


Resumes should be visually compelling but well-balanced. Using charts, graphics and unique colors could draw the readers attention, however the design should not distract from the content. In addition, ATS do not see design. Therefore, color and graphics are not effective in most online applications. It is a good idea to have a human friendly resume as well as a computer friendly resume.

Since many hiring managers are using computers to read resumes, succinct statements surrounded by plenty of white space makes them more readable. Each segment should take 5-10 seconds to determine relevant information and then entice the reader to continue to the next section. Smaller segments of information are easier to read. Using bullet points and simple graphics can help to create white space and divide the resume into easier to read segments. Use a unique, modern layout but do not overdo it.

What Not to Include

1. The outdated phrase References Available Upon Request should be left out.
2. Listing an objective is a practice that has not been used in years. It adds no value. Employers want to know what you can do for them, not what you desire to do.
3. Job descriptions including cut-and-paste responsibilities are not needed. Employers do not want to know what you were responsible for.
4. Work history over 15 years old should not be included, especially if it was non-leadership roles.
5. Avoid densely packed chunks of information. It is difficult to read and often causes the resume to be turned aside.
6. Do not use traditional resume templates. Templates tend to use the same overused statements and adjectives that employers have seen before.
7. Resumes should be no more than 3 pages.


Resumes today, especially at the executive level, are far from the traditional resumes of the past. Gone are the days of traditional templates, overused adjectives, and cut-and-paste responsibilities lists. Now, executives seeking new positions should focus on customizing content, branding statements and value propositions, proving claims with results leading statements, and adapting to computerized and digital formats.