Optimising Executive Resumes Using CV Headings
The most effective executive resumes have clearly defined headings and sections to guide employers and headhunters logically through the executive CV. Choosing the right CV headings also helps target resumes more effectively by customising the CV and structuring the document towards ideal roles. This article aims to categorise the different resume headings to give a logical format and structure to follow as a basic outline for developing a highly effective CV. Moreover, the use of keywords in CV headings can help executives increase chances of getting through applicant tracking systems used to electronically ‘screen’ executive resumes and automate initial recruitment / application processes.
CV Headings: Personal Details
This should only include key contact information, notably full name, telephone number and email address. Any other details should be eliminated from the CV unless required otherwise. Check contact details are up-to-date and accurate.
Executive Resumes: Profile Summary
The idea is to summarise key elements in the CV to make an initial impression and persuade recruiters to read on. For executive resumes, capturing the attention of employers and headhunters is crucial, especially as candidates have less than 30 seconds to make an impression. This may includes headline achievements, core experience, top-level credentials (leadership skills), unique selling points, specialist skills / expertise and giving employers a vision of how executives will fit into their organisation. The idea is to set the agenda and convey clear expectations with regards to what the candidate is capable of and how they can add value.
Executives may have a strong track record of progression and / or outstanding achievements that are highly important within the context of the CV. These must be standalone achievements that stand up to scrutiny and show how executives impacted the wider organisation, especially if targeting executive board-level roles. Try to quantify and qualify achievements by placing them into context where possible.
Core details like job titles, employers and dates need to be included. Employers are most interested in the current role and the most recent previous role. This means that most emphasis in the CV must be given to these roles, with less priority given to older roles. The idea is to create talking points on the resume, give excellent examples and convey clear evidence of suitability to sell credentials and back-up information. Equally, roles must be tailored to the job description by choosing relevant examples.
Education & Professional Development
These are good differentiators for executives, especially if they have higher-level or specialist qualifications. MBAs and executive leadership development programmes add value as do professional memberships / accreditation, skills effectiveness courses and soft-skills training programmes.
Skills & Expertise
If there is specific industry, technical or specific expertise, there may be a requirement to include this within a separate section. More than likely this is going to be conveyed in the profile summary, but if there are many different dimensions or requirements to showcase specific expertise then a separate section is a useful addition. Executives often leave out language skills – these are useful in an international context.
Activities & Interests
For executive resumes, this is often excluded because it adds little or no value. There is often a greater priority to include other things in the CV, so this section is not important. Only include if there are some directly relevant interests or voluntary work that contributes to the wider resume.
CV Headings: Executive Resumes
We have captured the key resume headings or ways to categorise aspects of the CV. It is all about customising the resume and structuring everything in a logical manner to help guide recruiters through the document. The main thing is to capture initial interest, sell credentials, develop a clear message and make sure candidates stand out from others. Competition for interview selection is intense, so making the resume document as robust as possible is an essential requirement so it stands up to scrutiny and creates good talking points ready for interview. We have also included an external article highlighting other common mistakes made in executive resumes.
Also, see further advice on structuring executive resumes, alongside including appropriate resume section headings and what to include in a resume to increase chances of being shortlisted for interview.