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How to make an Executive CV stand out to recruiters


Most people are aware just what makes a good CV and there are plenty of articles and references out there to read in order to sharpen yours up to grab a recruiter’s attention, but just how does an Executive CV differ from the rest and what are recruiters looking for once you are looking for a new role at executive level?

Attention seeker

It goes without saying that any CV should be clear and concise, tidy and grammatically correct etc. However, most recruiters focus on the first 2 pages of a CV and won’t usually look at roles and experience prior to the last 5 years unless they are directly relevant to a position. Therefore, you may have an array of management and executive experience but holding somebody’s interest long enough to wade through it all can prove difficult. The first 2 pages should include your current relevant skills and experience. There should be as many ‘keywords’ specific to your expertise, industry and position as possible which will help recruiters to locate your CV in the first place.

At first glance a CV should be attention grabbing, hard hitting and give the recruiter an overall idea of who you are and just what you can offer within the first few seconds. A CV should always be individually tailored to showcase skills and previous experience specific to each role you are applying for.

Waste of space

“I am an energetic, motivated, Sales Director with a strong proven track record of ……etc. etc.

Recruiters don’t read executive summaries. As you only have 2 pages to grab a their attention, executive summaries really are a waste of time. If you ask the majority of recruiters if they read them the answer will be no. They have a limited time to look at any CV so wasting precious time on a long winded paragraph of generic business terminology is not going to give them an idea of who you are and what you have achieved and therefore, what you can offer in the future.

In laymen’s terms what a recruiter needs to know is; what’s your skill set and experience? What are your achievements? Is there evidence for them? How will it translate to the vacancy?

Prove your worth

You must prove your value and what you can achieve, and provide evidence for what you have accomplished before in terms of project management, leadership, improving revenue, motivating sales teams etc. Give evidence of the value you can bring, show the results and figures – This gives a tangible idea of what you might bring to the table. It’s very easy to say “I hit target or increased sales” without giving any proof. Actual results need to be provided. Your CV should obviously include detailed descriptions of your most recent roles, but your biggest achievements are essential.

If you do any activities out of work or have done any volunteering that broaden your skills and knowledge do include these as it helps to give more of an idea of your personality as a whole.

Branded a fool?

On your executive CV/resume you have to show your personal brand and market yourself. You have to give the recruiter (possibly the CEO or Directors of the new role) how you differ from the other candidates that may have applied or have been put forward for a position. Your brand should sell the real you, your personality, your aspirations, but also show your accomplishments, expertise and professionalism. Be your best self. Your brand lets a recruiter/employer get an overall picture of what you can offer and can bring to the company, its culture, management style and future vision etc.

Your CV should be supported by an online presence in today’s digital age with a profile on LinkedIn and possible a presence on Twitter. Most recruiters nowadays do research a candidate on social media sites. Your profiles are all part of your brand and should be used as an extension to your CV. Having an online profile also means you have more chance of being headhunted and contacted by an Executive Search consultant for a role which is relevant and a good fit to your skills, experience and talent.

Lastly, it’s good to make sure you CV is up to date and shows the whole package even if you aren’t actively looking for a new role, as you could be targeted by a head hunter and you never know who is looking at your profile or CV and your ‘brand’, and what opportunities could be presented to you. It could be a potential employer or even a customer who views you as a direct ambassador for your existing company.



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