People who have advanced their way to C-level positions understand the importance of developing a brand to maintain a certain image. While selling your personal brand of leadership is the primary goal of interviewing for new C-level positions, your brand should also shine through your resume. If you have not updated your resume since assuming a C-level role, you should consider taking a new look at it to make sure that it accurately reflects your achievements and leadership philosophy.
A C-level resume differs from those designed for other positions in subtle, but extremely important ways. These key tips can ensure that your resume reflects what it should as a C-level executive:
- Make sure your resume format works for you.
If you are at this level, you should use a format that showcases your skills and competencies as an organizational leader. For many people, this means eschewing the typical chronological format and instead focusing on particular skills and how they have demonstrated them in their various positions.
Consider using a hybrid format that allows you to place your most impressive points in the top third of the first page. This part of the resume is the first, and potentially the only, part of the resume that someone will read. Delete your objective statement. Whoever reviews the resume should already know your objective.
Do not underestimate the importance of visual presentation. The visual appeal of the resume should match the content. For example, if you talk about your ability to implement lean processes and drive down costs, your resume should be free of ornate flourishes. Instead, you should use a clean, minimalist format to complement the content. Think about how you want to frame yourself and ensure that the format and the visual appearance of the resume reinforce this message.
- Consider writing an executive biography.
Most people’s resumes should not exceed a single page. However, C-level executives typically have a lot more experience to describe, so their resumes often run onto a second page. If you feel like you need even more space, though, you should write an executive biography.
An executive biography offers a brief, overarching look at a candidate and should be included with the resume. You should also understand the difference between a resume and a curriculum vitae (CV). Many C-level executives offer to make this document available upon request, but it often offers more detail than necessary for a preliminary job search.
- Let your personal voice shine through.
How you express yourself to your colleagues is extremely important. A bland resume will not get anyone excited about interviewing you for a position, nor will it speak to your personal brand. If people cannot discern your personal voice from your resume, you have not branded it enough.
Your writing style should reflect what you have to offer a company. People who bring the promise of innovation should write copy that is clever and engaging. If you emphasize your leadership skills, your copy should be concise and straightforward.
In all likelihood, your voice already reflects your own style, but trying to capture that voice in writing may prove difficult. It’s a good idea to use friends and trusted colleagues as proofreaders to see if the content accurately reflects the picture that you wish to paint.
Regardless of your voice, some language is simply not acceptable in a resume. For example, avoid the passive voice. When you discuss your accomplishments, use active and varied verbs to keep the reader interested. Also, look out for over-used phrases like “responsible for” that can typically be replaced by strong, meaningful verbs like “supervised.”
- Tell a story.
Your resume should not read like a laundry list of past jobs and responsibilities. Instead, it should tell a story of how you became a C-level executive and describe what your experience in that position has taught you. In fact, you may want to completely avoid mentioning job responsibilities because they can largely be assumed at this level.
Instead, you should elaborate on what exactly you did when faced with major problems and show how you ultimately brought value to the company. Your resume should also demonstrate how your experience will bring value to a new work environment. While the interview is the place to sell an employer on what changes you could make at an organization, the resume should speak to your willingness to take calculated risks, shake things up, and achieve real results.
When you think that you have finished writing your resume, edit it for unsubstantiated claims. Just like with good fiction writing, you want to show rather than tell. People who state that they have good leadership skills are much less memorable than those who talk about leading a team of 40 people to success while overcoming significant obstacles.