Expert Tips for a Powerful Executive Level CV
If you’re ready for a new role, a polished and updated CV is the one thing you can’t neglect!
Putting together an up to date CV can be daunting, particularly if you’ve been lucky enough to secure previous roles and promotions through your organisation or network alone. At the executive level, the people you’re competing against will have come from many different paths, so your CV will need to impress to stand out from the pack and be noticed.
At this level, a CV is much more than a record of information. It should be a compelling profile of both you and your ‘offer’.
Below we have put together some of our top tips, including a free CV template available to download and use straight away.
How long should an executive level CV be?
Less is more when it comes to an Executive level CV, there is an assumption that you have met certain criteria to reach this level. Your CV should be more of a springboard for discussion – not an exhaustive list of your accomplishments.
Keep the CV high level, leaving room for you to explain your experience. If your CV is too detailed it can lose agility and applicability to roles with varying degrees of requirements and responsibilities. The only exception here is if you are a technical person, in which case it is important to be specific!
Ideally, an executive CV should be a maximum of two pages.
What should a well-written executive level CV include?
The Executive Search Consultant you work with needs to be able to understand what you have done and what you want to do. They will need facts and referenceable information on achievements, as well as clarity over future requirements.
The most efficient relationships are based on this established understanding, and a good consultant will be open and challenging about what you can do.
Your CV should pitch you in the present – show the reader how your management style can deliver in your next role. Past achievements are simply a way to back this up with quantifiable proof. Although figures are important, don’t forget to include context for a weightier statement.
Instead of: “I increased revenue dramatically in 2019 by 25% to £20million.”
You could include: “I increased revenue dramatically in 2019 as a result of a cross selling programme I introduced, which involved identifying departmental needs and project managing the re-training of staff. This resulted in an increase in departmental revenue by 25% to £20million.”
It is a good idea to list your achievements in bullet point format rather than block text and try to list them in order of relevance.
Identify what makes you stand out from the competition.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What career achievements am I most proud of?
- What would my colleagues say my strengths are?
- Are there any areas of the business that would struggle if I left tomorrow?
- What do I love most about my job?
The answers to these questions will give the reader a clearer idea of who you are and how you will fit into their company.
Not always applicable at executive level, but if you have any qualifications that are vital in your field or match your target role, they should be showcased at the top of the CV where they will be seen first, a good example would be an accounting qualification.
To grab the attention of the reader, your CV should include a punchy profile that summarises your offer. Include factors such as the level you work at, industry expertise, your specialisms, the results you deliver, subject matter expertise and your core skills. This should ideally be no more than a few well worded sentences; less is more in this case.
Dates and career gaps
Make sure you add the months to each role. This is very important – although often neglected – as it can make up to a whole years’ difference. For example: 2010 – 2011 could mean either January 2010 to January 2011, or it could mean January 2010 to December 2011. Justify career gaps or breaks and add any skills or achievements gained within this time.
Although not strictly your CV, it is vital to have an online presence aligned to the market for which you want to be known (think of it as your online CV). Don’t underestimate the impact of your digital footprint. Note any whitepapers, thought leadership, keynote speeches and listing any boards you sit on.
There is a fine line to draw between being discreet about being open to new opportunities and showing what you can do – however your online profile should be robust enough that Executive Search Consultants are able to asses you appropriately.
Download our free CV template here.