When it comes to writing an executive resume, it’s important to set yourself apart to secure those management and executive-level positions. Even if you’ve got a boat load of experience, it can still be difficult setting yourself apart from the competitive field that you’ll be competing against. We’ve outlined some key ways you can set your executive resume apart.
According to Glassdoor, each corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes. Of those 250 applicants, only 1 will receive an offer. This means that the average applicant has a .4% chance of getting hired. Less than one percent chance of getting interviewed means that you need to do all you can to set yourself apart and stand out as the leading candidate for the executive position.
While this may sound discouraging, it shouldn’t. There are some simple yet effective strategies that you can implement in order to boost your chances significantly. Whether you hire an executive resume service or do it yourself, you don’t want to miss these steps.
Below, we will outline some key tips to set your executive resume apart.
1.) Customize Your Resume Header
Every executive resume should have a customized header at the top. The customized header should be directly below your contact information and directly above your professional summary. Your resume header should match the title of the job you are applying for.
For example, if you are applying to a Chief Information Officer position, you should update your header to say, “Chief Information Officer”. This header is not designed to be your current job title. It is designed to be the job title that you are interested in applying to. For more tips on how to build your header, take a look at the ResumeCompass Free Resume Builder where you can build and perfect your executive resume in minutes.
Underneath your header you can also add sub-headers such as the ones seen in the image above. Sub-headers are usually selected by adding relevant keywords from the job description. In this case, the job description mentioned “Strategic Technology Leadership”, “Digital Transformation”, “IT Strategy”, and “Business Innovation” so we made sure to add these keywords into the heading. This sub-headings will help you highlight some of your skills, and some of the other positions you might be pursuing that are related to the main title.
Customizing your header for each job you apply to will help you stand out from the crowd. Not only will you be adding relevant keywords to help get through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), but recruiters and hiring managers looking at your resume will be forced to stop and read more after seeing such relevant content.
They will say, “Wow, this person seems to be a great fit for the job!”.
2.) Add Job-Specific Keywords
We briefly touched on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and keywords above. Applicant Tracking Systems are HR tools used to organize and screen applicants. If your resume is not ATS compatible (more on this later) and it does not have the appropriate keywords, it’s unlikely you will land an interview.
It’s important to spend 5-10 minutes customizing your resume for each job you apply to. This goes beyond the headline. Read through the job description once or twice and highlight words that seem to be repeated or emphasized.
You should notice trends in the words being used. Maybe these words are synonymous with words you already have on your resume. If so, update your resume to use their terminology. Make sure that your resume uses similar verbiage as the job description.
If the job description emphasizes the need for someone who has experience working virtually with global teams, make sure your resume clearly states that you have done this. These job-specific keywords can be added to your resume summary, skills section, or the professional experience section.
To quickly identify how you can tailor your resume to the job description and significantly increase your chances of getting past an applicant tracking system, take a look at the ResumeCompass Job Match Scanner, where you can tailor your resume to the job description quickly.
3.) Create a Compelling Summary
Your executive summary is the first thing recruiters will see after your headline and contact info. The purpose of the summary on your resume is to explain in a few sentences who you are professionally and what you might bring to future employers.
Your summary will either compel the recruiter or hiring manager to continue reading or cause them to move onto the next resume. Be very careful about what you say in this section. Generally, you want to summarize your experience to date while relating this experience to the job description.
If you have a ton of experience doing something that is not at all related to the job description, it’s best to leave that information out of your summary. When you’re building your resume, you want to ensure that you tailor each resume to the job description that you’re applying for, or the job category that you’re applying to. This will help you stand out and ensure that your resume not only gets past applicant tracking systems, but will help you stand out as a leading candidate. Make sure the summary summarizes not just your experience, but your experience as it relates to the job you are applying for.
4.) Use an ATS Compatible Resume Format
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) have become a huge topic of discussion with job seekers. More and more companies are developing software to help with the applicant screening process. So why does this matter to you as a job seeker?
Certain resume formats are not ATS compatible. What this means is that if you are applying to jobs online with a non-ATS compatible resume, there is a chance your information will not make it to the hiring manager. This is a huge issue for obvious reasons.
Resumes with graphics, charts, photos, icons, and generally images of any kind tend not to be ATS compatible. Also, resumes with tables to assist with formatting tend not to be ATS compliant. For those applicant tracking systems that do parse resumes with tables, there is a chance that the format you’ve chosen won’t show up properly.
While applicant tracking systems are getting better at parsing all different types and kinds of resumes, it’s best to ensure that you use an ATS-approved Resume Builder like the ResumeCompass Free Resume Builder.
If you aren’t sure if your resume is ATS compatible, check with a resume expert or use the Free Resume Review from ResumeCompass to pinpoint flaws in your resume. Many resume writers will be happy to review your resume for free and determine if it is ATS complaint or not. You can also read this article to learn how to build an applicant tracking system approved resume.
5.) Share Your Resume With Decision Makers
Once your resume is in tip-top shape and you have used it to apply for the job, it’s time to take things to the next level. At this point, you’ve already done a great deal to set yourself apart from the competition. But the final piece of the puzzle is getting your resume in the hands of the decision makers.
Applying to jobs online (no matter how great your resume is) does not guarantee it will be viewed by the hiring manager. It’s always possible that a recruiter looks at your resume and passes, without it ever getting to the ultimate decision maker. Or in most cases, your resume will be parsed out by those ATS robots because of a host of errors or requirements.
To avoid the potential for human error, it’s crucial that you are actively networking to get your resume in the hands of the right people. This is where LinkedIn comes in very handy.
Take some time to go on LinkedIn and search for the company you are applying to. Filter by company employees before beginning to search for the people involved with this role. Then, start typing in job titles of the people you think this role reports to.
If you are applying to a VP Technology position, a good guess would be to search for “SVP Technology” or “CIO” or “CTO” titles on LinkedIn. You’ll get a great idea of the company hierarchy, including who reports to who by conducting a few LinkedIn searches.
Take your best guess at who the hiring manager is for the role and send them an invite to connect on LinkedIn. Add a personal note to your invite and let them know you recently applied to “X” job and you’d love to chat about how you can add value to their team.
If you guess wrong and they aren’t the right contact, chances are they will refer you to the correct person. You really can’t go wrong.
If you implement the 5 tips above, you are going to do an excellent job at setting yourself apart. Best of luck on your executive job search. You are going to do great!
About the Author:
Mike Podesto is a former recruiter and current Founder & CEO of Find My Profession, a leading resume writing and career coaching company.
Images sourced from Pexels