How to write a headline, summary, and achievements sections for executive resumes.

Savvy executives don’t beat around the bush. They want straight facts, fast. When it comes to their executive resumes, this same strategy must apply.

Often, executive resumes are written with a text-heavy approach. Copious amounts of content with detailed work histories from the past 20 to 30 years in excruciatingly dry and dull verbiage are crammed into the file. The reason? Executives have a lot of experience and feel compelled to share it — all.

Yet the tactic to “include everything ever done” doesn’t work in a modern resume. Nor does burying key facts. Recruiters want a quick read, with easy to absorb information and proof of ability… and they don’t want to hunt for it.

To avoid smothering the audience with unrelated details and burying greatest achievements, employ these 3 simple, modern executive resume approaches:

1. Start Strong with Your Resume Headline and Summary

A weak resume opening sets the stage for a weak reaction.

Garner attention at the get-go by positioning your unique value-add in a strong headline and compelling summary. Leverage prime resume real estate – the top 1/3 of the file – to showcase why you are the candidate of choice. Be specific with who you are, what you are known for, how you can help the target company, and proof of ability. Keep content succinct and measurable so it can be easily absorbed and understood.

Example of a strong resume headline:

 

President and CEO: Manufacturing ŸStart-Ups and Turnarounds

P&L up to $160M | Global Teams of 300+ | 300% Revenue Growth in 3 Years

 

Example of a clear headline + succinct (yet compelling) summary:

 

Senior Business Executive: President & Owner

Propelled Global-Reach Operations to $30M Revenue in 2 Years

Entrepreneurial leader who consistently delivers output on par with business goals. Proven success at growing revenue and profits, even within challenged economies. Built a private business with a global reach, boosting revenue 165% in the first year alone. Steered business towards data-driven operations, implementing proactive and tangible infrastructure and high-ROI marketing and sales strategies which reversed declining revenues and solidified local market control.

 

2. Compel the Reader to Keep Reading with Concise Points

Instead of a traditional reverse-chronological resume format, where a reader has to wade through each work experience to identify key facts, consider a combination (also known as hybrid) format and include a dedicated achievements section near the start of the file.

An achievements sections allows you to mine out top career achievements from throughout your career and position them near the forefront. Big impacts and hard results are difficult to overlook.

Next, eliminate wordiness and excess details and just deliver straight facts. Lofty claims and overextended superlatives don’t sell – metrics do. If content near the start of the resume can capture, and keep, the hiring authority’s attention they will be compelled to learn more and keep reading the rest of your career history. Honestly, it takes only seconds to read the following, and content is likely to stick:

ACHIEVEMENTS SNAPSHOT:

  • 20+ Years’ Sales & Business Development Leadership
  • 10.2% Annual Sales Growth Average over 6 Years
  • $160M Global Operations | 465+ Employees
  • 46% European Business Expansion in 5 Years
  • $1.8M Single Year Cost-Savings
  • 350% Growth to Single Customer Sales in 4 Years

 

3. Front Load Statements

One of the most important strategies for executive resumes is to prove your claims. The best way to backup abilities is with clear evidence: measurable impacts, specific quantities, and strong metrics. To boost the value and impact of an executive resume, load it with relevant results. Even better, lead with them.

Leading with results and front-loading points throughout the file generates a strong impression, eliminates guesswork, and decreases the risk of important “proof” being overlooked. Shorter statements also pop off the page (as demonstrated in point #2) while still offering loads of value.

The difference between the two points below is discernible:

Weaker, wordier statement:

Developed a product line with new features which helped decrease service by half for all end users while also increasing profits $32M over the course of three years.

Succinct, front-loaded statement:

Added $32M in new profit over 3 years by developing differentiated product line which decreased service time 50% for end users.

Front-loaded points in a resume powerfully position strengths while spoon feeding the reader exactly what they need to know to support their decision: are you the right candidate? To be selected, readers need to know you have what it takes to lead, create, generate, and be strategic – all with positive business results.

With these 3 strategies top of mind an executive resume can be cleared of excessive info, making personal value easy to identify and digest. Most importantly, what matters most appears first and a clear path is created to guide the reader through the resume, engaging them until the very last word.


Adrienne Tom is a multi-certified, award-winning executive resume writer and job search strategist at Career Impressions. Here she partners with executives and top professionals from around the world, helping them level-up, land faster, and increase their earning power with compelling career tools.


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