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8th Mar, 2023

Jack Ireland
Jack Ireland
Job Title
Content Marketing Executive

Taking time to perfect your CV is a crucial step towards landing the executive job you desire. When considering the job application, you want to focus on how your leadership skills, industry experience and professional achievements qualify you for a leadership role. This begins when you submit your CV.

It's important to remember that hiring managers sift through hundreds of CVs, so if you're applying for a c-suite position such as chief executive (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), chief operating officer (COO) or similar, highlighting your relevant skills and experience is critical.

Charlotte Hasler, Recruitment Manager at Reed, looks at some of the ways you can build a desirable CV to help land those executive roles.

Q: What are employers looking for on a CV?

A: Decision makers in search of their next executive-level hire are looking for that all-important impact. They’re looking to hire someone who’s going to add value, drive business growth, reduce costs, streamline operations, increase productivity in staff performance, and deliver key results. 

The most effective way to promote this is by referring to achievements throughout your CV – be specific including quantifiable information. It’s worth adding a summary section to each of the most relevant jobs to reinforce your impact.

Q: What do achievements emphasise?

A: It’s clear that executives are expected to deliver results and add value to the organisation, which means you need to go beyond merely stating your job responsibilities on your CV, and showcase your accomplishments. 

Clearly state what it is you’ve achieved, with clear emphasis on how it impacted the company, added value to your portfolio and helped you develop into a senior member of staff. Evaluate what you’re proud of, what challenges you’ve managed to overcome, how the company has changed/developed because of your actions and how you’ve performed in line with your targets. 

It's critical to quantify your achievements for maximum impact. Some recruiters often overlook the achievements section, but it’s one of the best ways to give your CV that competitive edge.

Q: What about leadership skills?

A: At an executive level, your primary responsibility is to lead the organisation towards sustained growth, while effectively managing people. Because of this, employers looking for c-suite professionals want to know if you have the ability to motivate, inspire and guide teams to achieve not only their individual goals, but also the wider organisation's ambition.

To make your CV stand out, it's crucial to highlight your key achievements and to quantify the impact you've had on previous businesses.

Charlotte Hasler

Recruitment Manager, Reed

Specify how you’ve managed teams, your leadership style and the results you achieved. As a rule of thumb, include relevant key skills such as strategic planning, team building, communication, and decision-making in your personal summary or when describing previous roles.

Q: Is CV customisation important?

A: At executive level, I highly recommend customising your CV for each role to highlight your suitability. At this point in your career, you’ll have years of experience, knowledge and skills, but it’s about knowing which areas of your work to highlight.

To present a strong application, you'll need to thoroughly understand the requirements and expectations of the role, so take time to analyse the job description. Don't forget that hiring managers are looking for someone to meet their needs – not the needs of the applicant – so be sure to tailor your application accordingly.

Q: Should relevant industry experience be included?

A: Businesses in the market for a senior executive want to know if a potential applicant has extensive industry experience, or can show evidence of transferable skills. 

Industry experience can come in a variety of forms, including work experience, voluntary work, courses, qualifications and certifications. If you’ve completed any leadership courses from accredited bodies or a reputable business school, shout about them – they can enhance your CV, as can any relevant courses in the desired field. 

Degrees or higher qualifications should always be included, particularly if you have an MBA or equivalent, along with affiliations to chartered institutes or other industry bodies. Any qualifications gained outside of the role will go a long way to proactively show your dedication and commitment to a job or sector, which is something that hiring managers hold in high esteem.

Q: How long should a CV be?

A: Many executive-level professionals struggle to keep their CV to a readable length; we recommend limiting it to two or three pages. While it can be tough to know what to cut down, you can keep a CV concise by:

  • Focusing on achievements and impact at previous roles rather than a detailed description of job responsibilities.

  • For any past experience – usually from 10-15 years ago – the date range, company name and job title will suffice. It's recommended to still include the basic details of your earlier career, as hiring managers are often interested in the career path you’ve taken.

  • Streamlining sections that don’t need to be so wordy. Consider using bullet points to get your message across.

Q: Does wording matter?

A: Absolutely. Careful attention should be paid to the way your CV is written – as the way you articulate yourself will help employers understand more about you. 

Your CV should grab an employer’s attention, emphasising your skills and accomplishments. Also consider your word choices – phrases such as ‘directed company vision’, ‘implemented strategic change’, ‘managed large teams’ and ‘delivered successful results’ will help convey the impact and results of your work, when used with quantifiable data such as team sizes and results delivered.

When applying for executive roles, your career history and track record play a key part.

Charlotte Hasler

Recruitment Manager, Reed

A well-polished CV will set you apart from other candidates by highlighting your strengths, skills and ability to fulfil the role requirements, while ensuring that you have the best opportunity to secure an interview and, most importantly, the job.

Are you looking for your next executive level role? Get in touch with one of our specialist recruitment consultants today.