Resumes for Executives

By Peter Newfield –®

Executives in today’s hot job market need to make sure that their resumes deliver enough career information to make them look like pros without giving the impression that age or high salaries could knock them out of the running. An executive resume needs to present professional career experience in a strong, concise format with the single objective of getting you called in for an interview.

While some corporations have been eliminating middle management through mergers and acquisitions by similar companies, other firms have been buying out/retiring older executives and replacing them with college grad whiz kids for half the salary. Do not be discouraged -- your experience is valuable and can definitely make you a marketable commodity in today’s job market.

Same Old, Same Old

If you are still using the same resume style as when you first started your career twenty to thirty years ago, get with the program. Executive resumes should start with a Professional Summary, a 3-8 sentence overview of your career experience, and then proceed to Areas of Strength, Professional Experience, and then Education.

Facts But No Pizzazz

Just listing your responsibilities and various job titles won’t help you to stand out from the thousands of resumes received for each available position. A great executive resume has got to include accomplishments and achievements you can take credit for along the career path. Did you open the company’s first franchise in Asia? Were you instrumental in increasing worldwide sales by 75% in six months? You need to show and tell.

Key Words

A section of key words, such as Areas of Strength, or key words inserted throughout your resume will significantly increase the chances that your resume will be noticed whether it is visually or electronically scanned. Many large H.R. departments routinely scan incoming resumes electronically to find immediate matches for categories such as “Financial Administration”, “Market Expansion”, “Cross-training”, “JIT Inventory Management”, etc. Include relevant corporate buzz words in your resume.Airbrushing the Facts

If your resume is missing dates, or you have lied about your job titles and actual responsibilities, you will be the one to blame if a background checks turns up any discrepancies. Many older executives believe that if they list companies without dates of employment or leave off the date of their college graduation, that no one will know how old they are. While, short-term this may look like a good plan, it isn’t.

Professional, Not Personal

Personal information does not belong on a resume. Even if you have had the bad luck to have been downsized from your last three employers, it still should not be listed on your resume. Just give the actual dates of employment and you can discuss the reasons you changed companies three times in a short period of time during the actual interview, if appropriate. Never include marital status, religious or political affiliations, or reluctance to relocate on your resume.

How Marketable Are You?

An executive with twenty to thirty years of experience is not automatically considered a dinosaur in today’s job market. But the way you present your experience can make all of the difference. Don’t list every job you have held for the last 25 years, nor list every title if you have been with the same corporation for a significant number of years. Most employers want to know what you have done in the past 10-15 years that might make you a valuable addition to their company. Summarize jobs and work experience prior to that.

Keep in mind that technology has changed and the way that companies do business has also greatly changed in the past 5 years, let alone the past 25 years. While you may not be an internet whiz, you do have business experience that many younger competitors do not possess. If you traveled extensively through your job, don’t forget to list the countries you have experience in working with, list the languages you speak, or the international conferences you have attended. Global experience and communication skills are still very much in demand.

Do You Speak Geek?

If you have significant knowledge and/or training in the current high tech hardware, software, and applications, try to include this on your resume. A Computer Skills section under Education is appropriate for someone with extensive computer skills. For example, if you have a working knowledge of building Websites or networking with your customer base, you can include this under the appropriate job responsibilities section where these skills apply.

The Two-Page Rule

While your career experience may be extensive, time and interest constraints really require that you keep your resume to a strong one or two pages. Brochure-style resumes and resumes with multiple attachments are not beneficial. Do not include letters of recommendation, newspaper clippings, or photocopies of awards.

Contact Information

Listing home and work telephone numbers, as well as your home address is a resume must. But it is also appropriate to include your cell phone, fax number, and email address on the top of your resume as additional ways to contact you. The way business is transacted theses days, you will more than likely be contacted by email than by receiving a letter in the mail in response to your resume. Be aware that if your cell phone is usually turned off, the kids forget to write down messages on your answering machine, or you never check your email, then you may be missing important calls.

Diversify Your Targets

If the last time you looked for a job was more than ten years ago, you’ll be pleased to know that there are infinitely more avenues to pursue a job search these days. In addition to Classified Ads in daily newspapers and trade journals, you can send your resume to Professional Search Firms, Human Resource Directors, as well as online networking and employment sites. The internet has opened up a huge employment search and find opportunity for executives worldwide. Consider using all of these various approaches to finding your next career opportunity.

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Peter Newfield is President of®, one of the premier resume writing services in the United States. He is The Resume Expert for,,, and the former Resume Expert for, Spencer Stuart Talent Network and the Career Center on AOL. View samples at: