Putting together your resume for the first time in years? Believe it or not, resume trends have changed substantially in just a short period of time, due to intense competition in the job market.

You’ll soon find that you’re up against other executives with custom-designed, focused documents. Therefore, you’ll need to ensure that your resume is in line with cutting-edge changes in format and style.

What’s changed? Besides the fact that an objective isn’t workable anymore, many executive resumes now contain a splash of color, a branding headline, or a metrics- and detail-packed summary that replaces tired, overused phrases.

Consider implementing these trends into your executive resume as a way to stand out:

A touch of color.

While color can seem like a huge stretch for a resume, it can also be a valuable tool that makes certain elements stand out.

For example, a dash of red used in the borders of a resume for a financial executive (such as this Finance Director) can help set off different sections of the document. This is especially helpful for resumes that are packed with detail, because the color can ease navigation and readability.

Should you decide to incorporate color in your executive resume, start with just a border or headline to get a feel for the fit against your achievements.

Of course, you’ll want to ensure that the color is used very sparingly, especially if you’re not used to applying it in other documents.

If it seems like too much, back off and review the resume in black and white for a comparison.

A branding statement.

One of the best-kept secrets of professional resume writers, a headline or branding statement allows you to put one of your top strengths front and center in your resume – allowing employers to quickly see the impact of hiring you.

As an example, the branding headline “Driving Multimillion-Dollar Revenue – in Aggressive Markets – With Advanced Distributor Support” was used to distinguish this Sales leader, who had gained ground against competitors that constantly tried to infiltrate his accounts.

Rather than spelling this all out in detail, the opening statement was used to set the tone of the resume, with numerous examples of revenue achievement that followed.

If you’re trying to write a branding statement for yourself, first identify and flesh out your top 3-5 executive strengths, such as cost control, process efficiency, global team direction, and so on.

Next, look at which of these skills has the most impact on your employers, and then formulate a concise and focused sentence that you can use at the top of your resume.

Developed more than one sentence? Use both headlines, as long as they are set off from each other in a slightly different font size (or with another color).

A metrics- and achievement-driven summary.

Employers and HR professionals must have seen thousands of “visionaries” by now… including those that are “dynamic” and “motivated.” Since your summary lives in prime resume real estate, why not add your most notable achievements and executive credentials there?

For example, this summary for a CIO and CTO candidate contains descriptions of achievements, career level, and distinctions – while adding keyword content:

“Trusted IT executive advisor and confidant; pivotal leader for long-horizon business assessments, integration support, and delivery of targeted technical improvements. Strategic business partner and global technology strategist engaged in ongoing C-level advisory roles of 1-10+ years. Fluent in leveraging open source, analytics, modeling, ETL, database, and business intelligence solutions. Notable honors include InfoWorld 100, Computer World 2009 Laureate, & Federal Computer Week Knowledge Management awards.”

When putting your executive resume together, consider moving some of your strongest achievements and career highlights up into the first few words and phrases, rather than saving them for later.

You’ll find that employers appreciate the opportunity to review the high points of your experience, rather than digging deep into your executive resume to find them.

In summary, your best bet – even if you’re just getting started with your job hunt – is to incorporate a few cutting-edge elements that can help you distinguish your credentials in a sea of resumes.

After all, the way your leadership message is delivered is as important as the message itself!

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