You have unique experience as a leader of your business – to make this experience on your resume stand out and open doors for you, focus on content over format, keep it concise, and use specific examples and figures to show accomplishments.
As an executive leader running your own business, your job looks quite different from those who aren’t in leadership positions. It might not be a Fortune 500, but no matter how small your business is, your job is a big one. You oversee finances, manage all the managers, and steer the course of the entire organization.
So, to land your next job, whatever that may be and whenever you decide to look for one, your business leader resume should not look like a typical professional resume.
However, while there’s plenty of resume writing advice out there, it can be hard to find resume writing tips that are specific to executives. As a result, many business leaders’ resumes are too verbose, too bland, or simply don’t sell the candidate’s skills.
That’s why we’ve put together these executive and business leader resume writing tips to help your leadership experience stand out, no matter what your next job may be.
Why do you need to work on your business leader resume to make it stand out?
Even at the executive level where networking becomes even more crucial for landing a job, your resume remains an important part of introducing your key qualifications to the employer.
Companies hiring executive-level employees expect a lot from the candidates, so only those with resumes that stand out will get interview invitations.
Here are three great tips that’ll make your executive experience stand out on your resume:
- Content over format
- Less is more
- Show, don’t tell
1. Content over format
When it comes to executive resumes, you should go for “substance over style” or “content over format.”
Many job seekers are turning to creative resume formats which feature fancy multi-column designs, abundant use of colors, fancy fonts, and infographics.
However, we don’t recommend trendy “creative formatting”, especially not for executives. While you do want your resume to be attractive, recruiters care much more about easily finding your key qualifications than how cool it looks, especially for the kind of high-level positions you’ll be applying to.
Employers don’t want to hire the person who “stands out” with their design – they want to hire the person who provides clear proof of their ability to lead a business.
When putting together your great business leader resume, stick with clean and simple resume formatting.
- Be subtle with color – only use a splash of one or two colors, as switching between too many colors can be hard to read
- Leave out the fancy infographics
- Avoid fancy fonts – stick to one font, or a maximum of two with one for your header and the other for the body
2. Less is more
Even with your long career, your business leader resume should be concise.
As a business owner and leader, you probably have a long trail of past experiences and dozens of bullet points you could write about your current executive job. Do not be tempted to pack your resume with all of the day-to-day details of every single job.
When writing your Professional Experience section, you may consider briefly stating key responsibilities in a small paragraph at the top of each job, but follow this with bullet points highlighting your key accomplishments.
Be careful not to include all of your career accomplishments, either. Focus on the last 10-15 years of your career, and only the accomplishments that are most relevant to the position you’re currently applying for. You’ll also want to keep irrelevant personal information like hobbies, interests, and volunteer organizations out.
When it comes to the length of an executive resume, you’ll probably need two pages or maybe just one, depending on how much past experience you’ve had. No matter how long your career is, you don’t need more than two pages – a recruiter won’t read all of it.
3. Show, don’t tell
Hiring decision-makers don’t just want to see what was listed in your job description. They want to see how you exercised influence and made an impact on the operations and people in your company, since that’s what you’ll be doing for their organization as well.
This means that you shouldn’t waste time on describing duties that could be found in a job description – anyone could have done those. Rather, use specific examples and metrics to show previous accomplishments. It is also important to avoid the use of overused phrases that have lost all meaning.
For example: It is true that executives should have strong skills in team leadership. However, this does not mean you should simply add a generic phrase like “strong team leader” in your business leader resume. (Again, anyone can claim that!)
Rather, in your bullet points, include a specific example of how you used your leadership, and use numbers to show what was accomplished and how it impacted the company, like this:
- Empowered HR manager and quickly reallocated budget to provide remote work accommodations for 20 employees during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing our yearly retention rate by 30%
Another effective idea you might consider is adding a “Key Achievements” section for your whole career below your Summary at the top of your resume, especially if you’ve had a long track record of leading the company. If there are a few accomplishments from your tenure that stand out as being particularly important for the job you want, this can be a great way to make sure the recruiter sees those right away.
Time to get writing your business leader resume!
Now you know how to emphasize content over format, choose only the most relevant info to include, and show instead of tell in your bullet points. With these 3 core tips in mind, you can showcase your business leadership experience in a way that will make hiring managers take notice. Now get out there and land that interview for your next job!