In my latest article on Forbes, I take a sample CEO resume and show you how to communicate key points to your audience fluidly and effectively – both at the cursory glance and in the deeper read.
In my latest article on Forbes, I take a sample CEO resume and show you how to communicate key points to your audience fluidly and effectively – both at the cursory glance and in the deeper read.
Is it time to dust off your CEO resume? If you are being recruited or ready to vet a new CEO position or wishing to step into your first CEO role – your executive resume is the foundation for your audiences first perception of you. You know how first perceptions are – once they are “set” it’s very hard to move the needle – so your executive resume has a tremendous amount of power to create the impression you want.
But not all CEO resumes are the same. A resume should be and can be so much more than a historical narrative of where you have been. The spirit of this same approach is one where you think, “if I just list all the amazing responsibilities I have had, I just KNOW someone is going to read them and find the perfect role for me.” This thought process puts the power in the hands of the reader. A much better approach is the value-driven approach. A CEO resume that says “I know who I am and where I am going” serves to engender the trust of strangers MUCH faster than the former approach.
This article here shows a few CEO resume samples that really work to translate leadership and value – in a matter of seconds – because at the cursory glance that is all you have.
There are three running themes you will see in the CEO Resume Samples article above. The first is a clear definition of what the executive is going for in terms of title, company size and industry, or some other key indicator such as PE-Backed Companies or Fortune 500 Companies. The reason this is so important has to do with the way people absorb information at the glance. If you are respectful enough to your reader to give them the “table of contents” before “chapter one” then you have effectively given your reader the key points they need to know foundationally before they can adequately dive in – either details of your abilities, accomplishments, or soft skills.
The second running theme in a CEO Resume that is both effective and produces results is a focus on the metrics. People can only care how or what you do after they have been given the opportunity to understand what happens when you do it. So, we begin the conversation by focusing on your metric-driven results FIRST and then explain briefly how, what, or why. Bullets that begin with results and summary statements that showcase your core accomplishments in a professional narrative show you understand what the emphasis has to be on first to establish trust, respect, and credibility; and it does indeed most quickly engender trust with your audience. If there is any one area where we need to communicate results fluently and clearly, it’s in your executive resume!
The third running theme is a visually well put together resume. As your audience’s eye draws down through the document, what you have bolded or put in another color captures first look, so use these differentiators wisely so that your core bits of information (where, when, over what geography, company size, P&L, how many employees, and core accomplishments) are looked at first. Additionally, graphs and charts used with moderation appeal to the visual executive and keep the reader on the page longer. Many studies have been done that demonstrate a visually appealing document commands a longer look and leaves a more favorable first impression – critical when expressing in written form your CEO executive candidacy.
If the thought of writing your resume yourself as distasteful and you wish to hire an executive resume writer to do it for you, this article covers some tips to vet top CEO Resume Writers. Additionally, this article here can help you with CEO job search strategies you may not know about.
Mary Elizabeth Bradford and her elite team of award-winning, top certified executive resume writers and former top executive recruiters and global HR executives help many of the world’s premier CxO’s and thought leaders secure the transitions and compensation packages they want. Would you like to discuss your executive level transition and explore your options? Book a complimentary, confidential discovery call now.
Most of my CEO and other CxO clients who initially come to me for executive resumes tell me that this is the first time they have ever had to look or plan for a new position and that most of their CEO job opportunities have come to them through inside channels. Others state that their relationships with recruiters have helped them to vet new executive CEO job opportunities.
If you have also had a run of opportunities come to you—that’s great! But there seems to come a point in every executive’s career when they are called to ‘make rain’ and find opportunities that are a good fit for them. Another consideration regarding market leverage is that if you know how to do it, you don’t have to rely on opportunities that are coming to you at any given time, and you can actually set up and easily manage your own transition.
Here are a few resources and strategies my CEO clients use to get full market leverage in their executive job searches:
Yes, you can use ExecuNet or Bluesteps as paid executive job board options to find Chief Executive Officer job opportunities. You can also just set up email alerts for CEO jobs using an aggregator like indeed.com. LinkedIn also has a feature for setting up job alerts. The benefit here is that you set it up once—and the positions come to you daily or weekly. You can quickly scan them for relevancy in just a few minutes per week. Be sure not to spend too much time on this one; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, positions paying more than 300K are only represented online at 10% of the actual jobs available, so you don’t want to spend too much time here. You can also use these CEO jobs that are delivered to you as a market indicator. Look for running patterns and themes, and note who is growing and hiring in your niche, and what recruiters are posting multiple positions that match your interest.
Identify recruiters who say they place CEOs and have Chief Executive Officer Job Postings. You can also research those executive recruiters who work with CEOs that work in your industry too. They often have contracts to fill positions, the majority of which will never be advertised.
If you are making a radical change of industries, a recruiter who places CEOs may not be the best source for you as they will be looking for “a match.” Having said that, there are generalist recruiters who have CEO job searches across multiple industries.
You can do an internet search for CEO recruiters+your industry. You can also look up CEO recruiters on LinkedIn. I offer a recruiter distribution here, and an in-depth course on how to work with executive recruiters here.
Direct Company Contact
The secret to finding CEO jobs by going directly to companies of interest to you is in the numbers. Contacting a company directly (knowing full well they probably have multiple open positions that are not advertised) is a great way to demonstrate leadership and take control of your job search. Are you interested in looking at the higher-education market in your state or the top organic food manufacturers in the U.S.? Or maybe the fastest-growing healthcare-oriented businesses in your city? All of these “lists” are accessible to you and allow you to easily tap right into your market of focus!
Here are a few ways you can connect with them to get interviews:
Send a letter to the CEO or Chairman at larger companies
They might need you as a GM, COO, or Division President. If you’re the CEO of a small company, perhaps you would fit in as the EVP, COO, or Division President of a larger company.
Send a letter to the CEO at smaller companies
The incumbent CEO might be looking for a successor because of retirement, business expansion, or just because he or she wants to move on and open a new company. Or, the existing CEO may want to step back, step down, or step up as the Chairman. The reasons don’t matter—what matters is that they need help more often than you’d expect.
Send a letter to the Money Brokers
Reach out to the VCs, Investment Bankers, Holding Companies, and others who invest in companies. There are more than 20,000 in the database, and they might need you for a portfolio company. If you have money to invest and/or mention that you’re looking for a stake in the outcome, this can significantly increase your odds.
An accident of timing
Sending a value proposition letter to those decision makers who are most likely to hire you is an accident of timing with predictable and statistical odds (85% in 90 days). And, it’s the only way to reach thousands of decision makers at the same time … when you’re available.
You can learn much more about the lucrative hidden job market and how to tap into it, here.
Think of LinkedIn as a CEO job database. If you connect with companies in industries and geographical areas that are of potential interest to you, you will grow your network on LinkedIn—and not only can you then tap into it as a talent source, but you will be in the first, second, or third degree network of MANY more companies that will now be able to see you in their network. So … when they are searching for candidates (like you) using LinkedIn (and most of them do), you will now rank in their search results!
Don’t be dispirited if you’ve never realized this before; this is not information that LinkedIn actively promotes. You can learn the mechanics of how to easily use LinkedIn to passively pull opportunities to you by growing your network here.
I have been coaching CEOs on their job-transition strategies for nearly two decades. If you take away anything from these tips … I hope it is that you DO have ample power, control and market leverage over your CEO job search! A clear focus of direction—supported by a CEO executive resume and two or three good CEO job search strategies layered in—should deliver in short time the interest, interviews, and offers you are looking for.
20+ years of expertise summarized in a 2- or 3-page document is not an easy feat. This explains why developing a Chief Executive Officer resume can be tricky. Often, CEOs will come to me with original 5- pages resumes, simply as a result of not knowing what strengths to emphasize and which to minimize or exclude.
However, here are three Executive CEO Resume samples that demonstrate universal selling points that are generally applicable across all C-Level resumes.
Give your audience a clear table of contents at the top of Page 1.
In this first resume, you see how the CEO spelled out who he is, and where he wants to go—very clearly. For example, just the keywords at the top give you the following information:
As the eye draws to the document’s other supporting areas, what this CEO specializes in is very clear:
Risk Controls / Executive Board Partnerships / Strategic Exits
With this context – now the reader not only knows the CEO’s primary skills, strengths, and industry preferences, he/she also has enough context to read deeper into the document and digest it. In other words, without a table of contents or summary overview, it’s difficult to digest the details.
Speak from a position of leadership and metrics to set the perception as a results-driven leader in the minds of your readers.
Leaders are expected to garner results. It is anticipated that their vision and personality will inspire and motivate their teams. By clearly focusing on the results you deliver, you inspire the trust of your readers.
This second executive resume example demonstrates the results the CEO garners. It spans revenue growth, expansions, major transactions, major awards (industry thought leadership), and high-visibility projects.
IMPORTANT: Note that the bullets begin with the CEO’s result…not the activity and THEN the metric result at the end.
Set up your storyline to make it easy for your reader to understand your value.
This particular resume has some special components. First, it’s a one-page version of a three- page resume. One-page resumes are often preferred by banks, boards, and private equity firms. This resume is also color-branded to the CEO’s industry of choice. It clearly demonstrates her thought leadership and industry expertise. It gives scale and scope at the cursory glance. It is visually very attractive.
Even though it’s only one page, this resume clearly outlines this CEO’s career narrative. It starts with her title and provides a summary of why she was hired. Then, it crisply delivers her primary accomplishments, which are supported with just enough detail in the few bullets below the summary accomplishment. This respects the reader and sets up the storyline so that the reader WANTS to digest, read, and understand this CEO’s career narrative.
IMPORTANT: Note that each bullet begins with her quantifiable result…NOT the activity and then, the result at the end. Beginning with the result shows more energy and power. It translates that this CEO understands it’s the RESULT—not the activity—that is of primary importance.
In summary, the majority of CEOs hire a resume writing firm to develop their marketing documents —but even if you don’t write your own resume, these tips will help you know what to look for in a top executive resume writer or executive resume writing firm!
If you would like to chat about executive resume services, you can request a confidential, complimentary call here.
At the CEO level, your career transition landscape has a unique terrain: there are fewer C-level positions, they come up less often and each has its specific requirements. As a smart CEO, you will first plan your upcoming transition by defining and writing down your wants, needs, career goals and driving motivators. You will want to layer in some due diligence respective to the short and long term economic growth and stability of the industries you have in your sights. The reason this due diligence is so critical is because today’s leadership resume must be written to what you wish to do moving forward vs. a chronological list of what you have done.
Demonstrating you can communicate your focus, your purpose and your value inspires confidence and will attract the positions you wish to explore.
Once you have a plan in place, this is the bull’s eye that you can now create and design your CEO resume for. A primary complaint from C-level executives, and one of the major issues with C-level executive resumes, is that they contain too much information. You may find that you have done and achieved so much in your career, you can’t find the objectivity needed to understand what to leave in and what to leave out of your executive leadership resume.
As a CEO, you need to communicate certain things in your resume that demonstrate your value in a C-level role to potential companies. In addition, you may be interviewed by a board of directors, and often in these cases, they like to see an executive biography in addition to your resume.
Hiring a professional resume writer to help craft a CEO resume can not only serve as a huge weight off of your shoulders, but bring you a substantial ROI in many ways, including:
All of these benefits can and do have a positive effect on your interviews and offers. Regardless of who writes your CEO resume, there are two critical factors you must not miss.
The first is to write to the positions you are focusing on. You can start this process by finding 2 or 3 representative positions and then literally highlighting the keywords and phrases in those positions that match you. From this you will be able to see running themes and gain clarity on your own personal branding (what you are attracted to) as well as understanding what keywords and phrases to layer in.
The second is to be sure you are speaking to the needs of the companies with whom you have defined represent ideal positions for you. At the CEO resume level, it is a mistake to use an old resume or a 6-page resume which may contain task-oriented details from past positions you held 15 or 20 years ago. At this point in your career everything needs to be recalibrated. Older positions may be placed in a “Past Career Highlights” section and given a brief nod with perhaps one notable accomplishment listed. For more recent positions, again, be sure to omit any task-driven details and concentrate on leadership skills. You may wish to emphasize leadership skills such as your visionary ability, how you empower organizational change, drive profitability through developing and initiating business goals, provide overall corporate direction, and inspire core teams across various divisions and reinforce corporate branding.
If you find yourself unsure of what accomplishments of yours to highlight, simply refer back to the ideal career positions you unearthed. Whatever they are asking for, those are the skills you match and reflect back to them using quantifiable accomplishments wherever and whenever you can.
If these basics are not reflected in your CEO resume, it could cost you a job interview or offer. You don’t have to list your entire detailed career history in your leadership resume. Simply present a polished document that shows what kind of a CEO you could be to their company.
If you are a successful CEO and have recently found yourself in the job market, you may have run into a few “surprises.” You may be sending your resume out to a small network of contacts, a few recruiters and perhaps applied for a few positions listed on job boards; yet, for all that effort, you may not be landing interviews.
There are many reasons that your CEO resume may not be getting you any traction. Here are a few points to consider:
I was reading an interesting blog post by Don Fornes, CEO of Software Advice in Austin, Texas.
Three things about the article I found noteworthy: first, they are hiring. Second, these are ten tips to improving your resume (written honestly for more of the entry to mid level job seeker) from a presidents point of view which I though was well worth sharing.
Finally – the last point about staying on the job for longer than two years – I think this might raise a few eyebrows . Perhaps he is speaking primarily to Gen Y. Most job seekers I know would be delighted to “stay on for longer than two years” providing the company was a fit.
Oh, and if you want to check out some resume samples just click here.
Many of the clients for whom I design executive resumes also have questions about the job search portion of their transition. They want information on strategies depending on their particular situation. Some clients have been affected by a reorganization or acquisition, have taken a package, and are in between executive positions. The upside is that there is lots of time to focus on what they want next! The other part involves deciding if they want or need to create some form of additional income stream to supplement them and their families during their career transition.
I was just reading this article on part-time jobs that pay really well. What I especially love about this article is the fluidity of the opportunities and the instant income they can bring in! Although a couple of these positions (dog walking) wouldn’t appeal to the C-level executive, the bigger picture is how easy it is to turn a hobby or enjoyable activity that aligns with an executive’s natural capabilities into a verifiable stream of income. For the CEO, COO, CFO, CMO, CTO, CISO and CIO Executive, it also has added benefits:
Some of my clients have found their bridge activities so enjoyable, they made them permanent on either a part-time or full-time basis.
Here are some additional suggestions:
Did you know that 6-figure incomes can be made by offering local services, giving you part-time income without a lot of stress? Consider a coffee kiosk by a busy office building or even services for cleaning up dog poop in peoples’ yards. When you are done laughing, consider that others have already proven this is an easy, fast and profitable business to start! I have even heard of people making a lot of money stenciling glow-in-the-dark addresses on curbs so that in an emergency, first responders can easily find your house within your neighborhood.
There are tons of successful online businesses now. Coaching, website development, SEO – and yes, resume writing too – are just a few examples of the hundreds of online businesses that technology makes it possible to offer the world now. There are many good business coaches to get you started doing this. My personal favorite is Ali Brown. You can run these ventures part-time or full-time.
Many of my clients take part-time gigs in management consulting. The ones who are most successful really define their niche so it is crystal clear what problem they solve. For example, they don’t just focus on team building, they focus on teambuilding for technology companies whose sales teams focus on conceptual selling and channel partnerships. This also makes it much easier to market their expertise, since their target market is so well defined.
There are a wide variety of businesses you can start on your own – both online and offline – and you have many choices, from your own back yard to around the world. If you find yourself pressed for inspiration or ideas, check out this article on Daily Finance: 15 Obstacles Keeping You From Starting Your Own Business.
You can find additional stories of inspiration and ideas here:
What is it – that secret thing that top resume writers do that make their clients look so darned appealing? I am addressing this article to c-level executives (CEOs, COOs, CMOs, CIOs etc.), but these points are really applicable to most every resume.
A really well-written leadership resume says, “I know who I am, what I am good at and where I want to go.” Most (not all) self-written resumes I read leave the reader guessing here. They are almost written with a mindset of, “if I write down all the things I am wonderful at, surely someone out there will read it, find a spot for me and know where to put me.” You can almost hear the author’s voice clearly stating this through the thicket of dense, broad information packed on the first page of their resume.
You might say to yourself, “But I really don’t know where I want to go. There are so many options out there, how can I possibly take the lead? It feels much more natural to put myself out there and see what comes of it.”
You certainly have the right to feel and think this way, but when it comes to your resume, you need to demonstrate much more focus. You need to approach the entire resume as a clear-cut marketing document – just like a business would.
Focus involves understanding what kind of industry/position you want to target. This makes it easier for your reader to have confidence in you. The following are simple, yet focused keywords that help your reader understand exactly where you see yourself:
Your branding message is another key feature of your resume. This message is peppered throughout your document in continuity. Many times it is a nice touch if you can offer a “branding statement” at the top of your resume. This can be in the form of a short statement or a quote from you or another person. It can be a statement of philosophy or work ethic. Above all, it is a promise of the experience someone is going to have when they are given the opportunity to work with you.
Here are a few points at the top of one executive’s resume that are so strong, the branding happens on its own!
Here is a focused statement for a top project engineer:
The last point I want to share is on design. Repeated surveys show that decision-makers are 6 times more responsive to images that express professionalism, attention to detail and a “sense of caring” about identity. The appearance of your resume matters! The right layout can work absolute wonders for you and a good writer (who is also a good marketer and has an eye for design) knows how to work out tables, charts, boxes and graphs, as well as use bold and italic words, different complimentary colors and spacing to draw the readers eye down through the document. This way the reader scans the most critical information at the cursory glance and can get a baseline of perspective on you and your skills.
It took me many years to learn how to do this very valuable service for my clients! I have always put just as much emphasis on a nicely designed and laid out document as I have good, tightly written content. A readable, well-organized resume is attractive, magnetic, and shows caring and initiative on the part of the candidate. It is all of these subtle yet powerful components that go into a well-thought-out and well-designed resume.