Executive Resume – How to Write One to Land a C Level Job
This article may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase by clicking on one of the links, I can earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Read my full affiliate disclosure here
C-level jobs are among the most competitive positions to apply for.
With so few openings and so many interested candidates, it’s important that you stand out.
One way to do this is through your Executive CV.
C-suite jobs require a properly formatted resume with the right mix of technical and soft skills.
Below, we’ll provide you with some expert advice on how to write a C-suite executive CV.
1. Start with a clear job goal in mind.
As an executive, you are expected to have a clear employment goal in mind.
Applying for jobs with a general CV won’t do you any good. At the executive level, a “catch-all” approach does not work. Your CV should be targeted to the specific job you are applying for.
While leadership skills will need to be displayed on just about any C-level CV, there will be some drastic difference between the CVs of a CFO and an IT director.
Some common C-level job titles include:
- Chairman and CEO (CEO)
- Director of Operations (COO)
- Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
- Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
- IT Director (CIO)
- Marketing Director (CMO)
- Director of Human Resources (CHRO)
Once you have decided on the type of jobs you want to apply for, you can start writing your CV.
Don’t start writing your executive resume until you have a clear goal in mind. Your target work will be the basis of the CV you are going to write.
2. Make sure your executive CV is ATS compliant
Applicant Tracking System (ATS) compliance is a huge topic of debate within the resume writing community. Many believe that if your resume does not follow ATS guidelines, you will automatically be rejected by the “bots” without ever being seen by the recruiter or hiring manager.
For obvious reasons, this could be a huge problem in your job search. If you are working with a executive resume writer, make sure they provide you with an ATS compliant resume.
A clear clue that your CV is not ATS Compliant is if your CV contains sophisticated graphics, charts, tables, or icons. Anything other than plain text on your resume is likely to cause problems with applicant tracking systems. If your CV is not automatically rejected, the information may be read inaccurately.
Additionally, adding relevant keywords to your executive CV can also help you with ATS. Take 5 minutes to read each job posting you are applying for. Try to spot words that seem repeated or underlined. These are usually the words an ATS will search for. If you haven’t already incorporated these words into your resume, you probably should.
3. Add a customizable executive title
Always include a customizable resume title on your executive resume.
Almost all c-suite resume writers agree that adding your desired job title to the top of your resume as a title is a great way to grab the reader’s attention.
This section of your CV should be right under your contact details and just above your professional summary. This is one of the first things an executive recruiter or hiring manager will see when scanning your resume. They will know exactly what position you are applying for.
This section of your CV can be quickly personalized for each job you are applying for.
If Michael decided to apply for a position with a title of Vice President of Information Technology, he could quickly change the title. He would say vice president of information technology instead of chief information officer.
The title of your CV should always match the title of the position for which you are applying. The person reviewing your CV will see your relevance from the first glance at your CV.
4. Highlight your executive leadership skills
When you apply for managerial positions, your future employer will want to learn about your leadership abilities.
If you want to be competitive for a leadership position, you will need to prove that you have what it takes to successfully manage and lead a team.
Since your resume is the first thing everyone will see, it’s important that you highlight your leadership skills throughout your resume.
Some common leadership skills include:
- Active listening
- Change management
- Conflict management
- Decision making
- Risk management
There are many leadership skills to choose from. Make sure you focus on the leadership skills that seem most relevant to the job you are applying for. Consult the job offer at
focus on the skills sought by the examiner.
5. Get feedback on your updated executive CV
Before you apply for C-level jobs with your new and improved resume, it’s important that you pressure test it with experts who understand your field of work.
If you have a few coworkers or former bosses who will review your resume, see what they think.
If you don’t have a close relationship that you’d be comfortable reviewing your resume with, try reaching out to a few strangers on LinkedIn. You would be surprised how willing people are to share their opinion on a CV.
The best people to seek advice are either people with the desired job title or executive recruiters who regularly recruit for desired positions.
Try to get feedback from at least 2-3 people before using the resume to apply for jobs.
Here’s an example of a message you can send to someone on LinkedIn:
“Hi name. Hope your week is going well. I recently updated my CV and was hoping to get feedback from an expert like you. Could you take a look at my CV and give me some initial thoughts? “
A simple message like this can go a long way. Remember to take your comments with a grain of salt. A lot of people will have personal preferences, but if you start to notice some common trends this may be something to change on your resume.
Written by: Mike Podesto is a former recruiter and current founder and CEO of Find my profession, a leading CV writing and career coaching company. Mike’s career advice has been featured on sites like Inc., Zety, Motherly, Fast Company, etc. His viral jobs posts have been seen by millions of people on LinkedIn. He’s even been featured in a variety of career-related podcasts such as the Hired Talk Talent to Me podcast, Strong Suit, and Authors Unite. Mike is passionate about helping job seekers thrive in their careers by breaking down tough job search barriers.
Click on the image below to get your executive CV:
You might also be interested in reading: