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5 powerful tips for writing your executive resume

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Summing up your executive career in just a few pages is difficult — especially in today’s click-happy world, where recruiters judge your skills in mere seconds.

If you want to compete at a leadership level with the powerhouse executive resumes you’ve seen elsewhere, you’ll need to pull out all the stops for a compelling and engaging document. Try adding these powerful, yet simple touches to your executive resume for a shot of adrenaline in your message:

1 – Borders.

Seriously, borders can be THE jazz-up factor that draws your eye toward critical elements in a resume. Whether placed in the top half of your first page (where you’ll want your most notable career achievements and brand message) or throughout the document, borders can be used to “set off” groups of achievements or point out less-obvious aspects of your career.

As an example of eye-catching borders, this CEO and COO resume employs selectively positioned headings to show the name and candidate title, while adding a valuable branding message (“Market-Aware CEO & COO Behind Millions in Profits”).

To add borders in a Word document, use the Paragraph ribbon to select “Bottom Border,” where you’ll see the Borders and Shading options. Simply highlight the text and select colors, line weight, and other style elements.

2 – Metrics.

There’s no better way to demonstrate how you’ll add to the bottom line or cut costs than to show specific, quantifiable achievement. Even if your role isn’t traditionally associated with metrics, you can still pull out figures relevant to employers.

Budget authority, cost savings, operational spending, or project allocations can be added to your resume, helping to outline the scope of your work or the impact on company expenses. To “find” metrics for your resume, continually ask yourself “How much?” while writing down every highlight of your career. You can quantify time savings, project budgets, numbers of staff, and ROI within minutes.

3 – Bold text.

Ever read a dense paragraph where nothing that stands out? Then you’ll appreciate the use of bold text, which helps “set off” the salient points you want employer to notice. This is particularly important if your career accomplishments are complex and warrant lengthy explanations.

As shown in this international CEO and President resume, the first 2 sections include just enough bolded words to emphasize specific accomplishments—allowing particular facts to jump off the page.

A note to the wise: when adding bold emphasis, it’s easy to go overboard. Rather than have your executive resume look too dark, give it a day and then revisit the document to take out some bold sections.

4 – Color.

Far from being just a trendy element, color is valuable for emphasizing specific elements in your executive resume. Judiciously placed color can highlight the words you want employers to notice, or even visually separate text to squeeze more space in a tightly packed document.

A dash of color can quickly delineate key points (graduation from a prestigious university, relevant leadership job titles, and other notable facts)—employing color as both a backdrop and a text enhancement. Be sure the color you select is in alignment with your industry focus and executive level. Neon or bright green, for example, would not work well when viewed by a conservative audience.

5 – Spacing.

While judicious spacing would seem to be a basic concept, it’s also missing from many executive resumes. Adding a line of extra blank space between critical elements not only boosts readability, but it also allows the reader’s eye to easily navigate sections. In this Chief Marketing Officer resume, extra white space ahead of the executive title and headings helps to break up each area, while requiring little else for emphasis.

White space is actually a powerful design concept in a business presentation. Your executive resume is no different; it must be a clean, yet engaging presentation that makes employers want to read further.

Remember - you’re good at what you do, and writing your resume is just an exercise in helping others get that message. Taking the time to plan a strategic presentation and method for your story WILL pay off, with more qualified responses from employers who understand your value.

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