Top 10 Executive Resume Trends For Leadership Job Seekers

Gearing up for your executive job search?

One of your first tasks is probably polishing your resume… but oh, how the times have changed.

The new reality in executive job hunting demands not only a powerful marketing package for your skills, but also a keen awareness of social media, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), recruiter preferences, and cutting-edge personal branding.

Take stock of these 10 trends destined to affect how your executive resume is perceived – BEFORE starting to network or reach out to executive recruiters:

1 – Cutting-Edge Resume Design.

If you’re still using a Microsoft Word template or just typing your information freeform into a resume document, it’s time to play catch-up.

Today, executive resumes have evolved from black-and-white, single-page chronologies into personally branded marketing documents, complete with accents of color, infographics, and other eye-catching design elements.

Move your resume into the new millennium by noting the presentation styles most likely to catch the eye (some of which are detailed below).

2 – Shorter, More Potent Documents.

While most executive resumes require at least 2-3 pages, one trend is to provide a snapshot page that can stand on its own – with subsequent pages that include career details.

As shown in this COO and GM Resume example, your background and career highlights can be encapsulated in a first-page summary, allowing you to use the short version as a door-opening networking tool and present all 3 pages for a complete story.

3 – Vivid Storytelling.

The executive resumes of the future have arrived… and they make the traditional list of bullet points seem stale by comparison.

Your leadership resume must tell your story in context, with specifics on the obstacles you’ve overcome and the results you’ve orchestrated. Listing metrics without the salient details will no longer make you a contender.

Rather than simply touching on end results (“Opened 30% more business opportunities, including APAC markets”), a storytelling approach lets you explain how you made this happen:

“Rebuilt trust with client executives, adding quality controls and ensuring adherence stringent audit procedures, leading to 30% additional business deals in U.S. and APAC markets – with no competitive bidding.”

4 – Resume Color.

While not a new concept, color on resumes is a trend that started several years ago and is gaining ground.

Even a small splash of blue for headings and descriptions of clinical trials on this Biotechnology Program Manager resume helps set off key terms, while still maintaining a conservative look.

If you decide to apply color on your executive resume, start small with a change in a single header or line of text. Be sure the color you choose aligns with your profession, such as a navy blue for an IT leader, a tan shade for a CFO resume, or a gray-beige for a medical officer.

5 – LinkedIn-Specific Resume Content.

Not that LinkedIn is ready to replace the executive resume (just yet – if at all), but you WILL need to craft your digital persona just as carefully.

To be competitive on LinkedIn, you’ll need an executive presence and fully populated Profile that rivals the content of other leaders (and you may want to visit their Profiles to see what you’re up against!).

Your LinkedIn Profile will also require an intensive search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to pull in traffic from recruiters. Some of the fields on your Profile (such as your Headline) are highly indexed, meaning that you’ll need to place powerful keywords there to attract more views.

Unlike a US-style executive resume, you’ll also be expected to provide a professional headshot to cap off your LinkedIn presence.

6 – Innovative Executive Summaries.

Just like the now-outdated objective, your resume Summary of Qualifications or Profile is starting to evolve (and may even be replaced).

Consider the bold move of eliminating your Summary altogether (especially if it seems to serve no purpose and you have better, more power-packed achievements you could use instead), as in this example of a COO and GM resume.

In addition, hiring authorities often welcome the opportunity to read an achievement at the top of the page (such as “$65M Single-Account Gains” at the top of this Sales Executive Resume), instead of trying to find these hidden gems buried in your text.

7 – ATS-Friendly Resume Files.

Customized for both personal submission and to pass through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), your executive resume must employ a keyword optimization strategy to satisfy these sophisticated filters.

The best way to handle the ATS? Create a file just for online job application submissions, saving your executive resume in text format and putting all of your achievements back under each job. (You can always present the colorful, dynamic version in a follow-up message.)

Use “standard” resume headings, such as Core Competencies and Professional History, as this will help the ATS find valuable data in each section. You’ll also need to separate out additional data elements, such as your degrees, volunteer work, or publications.

8 – Career Accolades.

What to do with all the reference letters, LinkedIn Recommendations, and testimonials from your career? Pull them into selected areas of your executive resume.

As an integral part of your leadership brand, a quote from a colleague or industry leader can carry significant weight when placed next to quantifiable achievements with the same message.

Not sure where to place a quote? Try juxtaposing it with a description of the same project or leadership strength.

9 – Charts or Text Boxes.

Still considered a hot trend for most resumes, a chart or called-out list of achievements can add punch to your executive resume – while showcasing your most prominent wins.

Just like any other design component, these graphics must fit the tone and purpose of the resume. As an example, this IT Infrastructure Director Resume (created for the Resume Makeover series) employs a small, yet eye-catching graphic to show enterprise-level systems impact.

Like other graphic elements, you’ll need to take the text out of these items to ensure your resume passes the ATS system requirements.

10 – The Portfolio Approach.

Your executive resume, even if well-written and compelling, won’t represent all things to all members of the hiring audience.

In fact, many executives find a leadership biography useful for both opening doors to new opportunities, as well as for distribution during a panel or Board interview. You’ll find some audiences even prefer your bio to an executive resume.

A concentrated, yet distinctive narrative of your executive career, your Biography may also be requested by recruiters or even HR departments (who add it to the company’s About Us page upon your employment).

Summary: Executive Resume Trend Watch

Just like previous changes in executive job hunting (sparking new, competitive ways of standing out), these resume trends will continue to evolve.

In preparation for writing your leadership story, spend some time looking at the personal branding elements and storytelling approach used by executives who’ve successfully made the transition to high-powered roles.

Then, leverage these new ideas to create your own, forward-thinking entrance into the job market.

Need a competitive edge for your executive job search?

As the #1 U.S. TORI award-winning executive resume writer, I create branded, powerful resumes and LinkedIn Profiles that position you as the #1 candidate – PLUS arm you with the job search tools that will get you hired faster.

My clients win interviews at Fortune 500 firms including Citibank, Google, Disney, and Pfizer, plus niche-market companies, start-ups, and emerging industry leaders.

Get in touch with me to experience the outstanding results my expertise can bring to your transition.

– Laura Smith-Proulx, CCMC, CPRW, CPBA, TCCS, COPNS, CIC 

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