Updating your resume as an executive can be uniquely challenging. How on earth are you supposed to capture the full breadth of your value as a leader in a single document? Enter the executive resume summary.
When done right, a compelling executive summary near the top of your resume will serve as your sales pitch. In just a few impactful sentences, it should highlight your relevant experience, detail your accomplishments, and provide insight into what you can do for an organization. That’s why well-written resume summaries are such a must-have – especially for executives.
Brainstorm Your Content
Before you begin drafting your executive resume summary, you’ll want to dedicate some serious thought to what you’d like to say. Not sure where to start? These brainstorming questions should get you moving in the right direction.
- If I could tell a hiring panel just three things about myself, what would they be?
- What career achievements am I most proud of?
- What are my areas of expertise?
- What are my most valuable intangible traits (e.g. pragmatic, relentless, entrepreneurial)?
- What would I like to achieve next?
- What unique skills, traits, or experiences do I bring to the table?
Quantify Your Achievements
Assigning a tangible metric to the achievement(s) you choose to highlight in your summary boosts credibility and provides context. Here’s what that might look like:
- Grew net revenue by 23% in just six months.
- Reduced IT infrastructure overhead by 40% by transitioning from company-leased data centers to a public cloud.
- Restructured customer success function, resulting in 30% increase in revenue and 74% decrease in client attrition.
Identify Your Value Proposition
Your value proposition is comprised of your unique blend of skills, personality, and expertise – the things that make you attractive to an employer. It answers the question, “why should we hire you?”
If you already have a solid handle on your areas of expertise, great! But if you aren’t quite sure what your unique value proposition is, it may help to work backwards. Start by reflecting on why you think a company might be interested in hiring you. Are you a dynamite change agent? A bona fide finance guru? A proven revenue-generating wizard?
Executive Resume Summary Template and Example
Now that you’ve got the ingredients of a winning summary, it’s time to start writing! You may find the below template helpful — it’s kind of like career mad-libs — as you’re getting started.
(Insert key strength(s)) (insert target job title) with (insert years of experience) in the (insert specialty/industry) space. Specialties include (insert 3 – 5 areas of relevant expertise). A (insert key strength) (insert noun to describe yourself – i.e. leader, change agent, etc.) recognized for (insert key trait) and/ with (insert key trait) to (insert outcome – i.e. achieve goals, drive revenue, ensure operational efficiency, etc).
Here’s what an exceptional finished product might look like:
Strategic, well-connected CEO with 15+ years’ experience in strategic transitions, corporate strategy, business development, alliance management, and finance. A results-oriented executive with a strong background in enterprise sales management, having closed and managed over $500 MM in sales just last year. Recognized for collaborative leadership style, proactive, approach, and keen ability to effectively translate complex operational concepts into tangible action plans. A proven leader with a strong executive presence, capable of blending big-picture viewpoints with tactical considerations to inspire, build trust, and achieve record growth.
Writing a winning executive resume summary will require a bit of work and reflection, but as a proven leader, you’re not afraid of a challenge, right? This will also be a valuable exercise as you prepare to update the rest of your resume and put your best foot forward in interviews. Having a clear understanding of your true value and most relevant accomplishments will inevitably serve you well throughout your job search.
Learn more: Does your executive resume summary have the right resume keywords?
Jaclyn Westlake is a career advice columnist and founder of The Job Hop. With more than ten years of experience in the recruiting and human resources space, she’s passionate about empowering job seekers to achieve their career goals. She’s also particularly fond of coffee and instantly falls in love with every dog she meets.