Creating an Executive CV Using Different CV Writing Layouts

There are several CV writing layouts or resume formats to choose from. These are the most generally accepted and widely used for an executive CV. The most popular format is the Chronological CV, covering the most traditional way of approaching employers. There are variations on the theme, where layouts are mostly a hybrid combination of different resume formats. Regardless, the most important thing (whatever executive resume layout is chosen), it should be bespoke, targeted and fit for purpose otherwise it will end up on the reject pile!

Executive CV Writing Layouts

The following are common resume layouts, notably the Chronological, Performance, Functional, Targeted and Creative CV formats. There are others that embrace a growing use of technology for establishing an effective online presence and offer a different solution to traditional methods.

Chronological Resume Layout

The main characteristic is that employment history is presented in reverse chronological order. This means that current roles are highlighted towards the top of the CV. Current roles are presented first as this is the most important role as far as employers are concerned. Selling the current role is massively important so significant emphasis / weighting must be given here.

Performance Resume Layout

This very much focuses on presenting outstanding achievements, excellent track record and evidence of strong career progression (notion of a high flyer). The only thing is that any achievements must be ‘standalone’ in that they stand up to scrutiny, are highly relevant and form key headlines in the CV to get recruiters interested and persuade them to read on. Weak or lack of clear-cut achievements will undermine the CV if using this format.

Functional Resume Layout

Functional resumes aim to profile specialist skills, specific expertise or industry knowledge likely to make a difference at the very highest level. Employers often pay a premium for scarce or highly specialist skills / expertise, so it is essential to highlight these as key selling points towards the top of the CV. These should be key differentiators that make executives stand out from others.

Targeted Resume

Targeted resumes imply that the CV is written for a specific job role or sector by profiling sector-specific requirements, skills expertise or industry knowledge. Without these core elements, executives can forget about being shortlisted for interview. Every resume has an element of targeting and the most successful CVs are those that target the job description, industry sector and company expectations.

Creative Resume Layouts

These require putting together a creative portfolio to show employers. For instance, this may be for creative marketing executives, leading architects, designers or other artistic employment sectors. We would not reasonably expect executives to produce a creative resume, unless there is some very specific requirement. See other useful advice on writing a senior executive CV with a more direct approach.

Technology Resume Formats

These essentially comprise dedicated web pages for executives to establish an online presence. Very often these only serve a basic purpose, but become more effective if they are linked to others or recruiters are looking for someone directly by name. This is why we recommend LinkedIn because there is already an established network of 200 million people (and growing) worldwide. There is also an expectation that LinkedIn will ultimately replace the traditional CV, especially as LinkedIn already serves a very good purpose and everything is online in a searchable format.

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