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How to Write an Executive CV

As an executive level member of the workforce, you probably have a number of jobs behind you already - and therefore a number of CVs. However, once you are in a management position, your Executive CV takes on an extra dimension.

You not only have to provide information about the jobs you have held in one or more industrial sectors, but you need to highlight the qualities that make you an ideal candidate for a management role.

This means adding another layer of information that draws attention to your leadership qualities. Your achievements are even more important, as these provide evidence that your management roles have yielded results.

This dual focus makes writing your Executive CV a little more challenging, as each area must be presented in a coherent way, compelling enough to make employers consider you for management positions and salaries.

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Executive CV Profile

Your profile is the 3-4 line summary at the top of your Executive CV. In a couple of sentences, you need to encapsulate your experience and management aptitudes in a way that leaves no doubt that you're executive material and meet the requirements of the executive jobs you will be applying for.

Here, you need to state how many years experience you have and the industry you've been working in. As a job title, you should mention the position you're aspiring to. If you have a leadership style, this is where you should initially mention it - if you hold a recent business qualification, such as an MBA, that can also be mentioned.

Which are your main areas of experience within management? What have you excelled at? The employer reading your Executive CV needs to know from the outset whether the person they're reading about has the most important experience mentioned in the job description.

For example, change management might be critical to their organisation in a time of recession. Take your lead on this from the person specification. Does the employer want someone who can handle challenges and risk, or someone who steers a steady ship?

You should also refer to the personal strengths that define your approach as a professional - e.g. powerful negotiation skills, great communication abilities, ability to motivate others, etc.

The employer is seeking a skilled manager who will be effective in their organisation, but they also wish to know more about you as an individual and how you'll fit in with them.

Our professional CVs can portray you as an executive who achieves excellent results and defined organisation goals.

Achievements on an Executive CV

The achievements section of your Executive CV should make the connection between your management skills and results. The point of including achievements is to show how you made a difference through your contribution, so for executives, this is the opportunity to bring out the heavy ammunition.

If the employer isn't impressed by the end of your achievements section, then you have already missed your opportunity to gain an interview invitation.

Achievements are quantifiable outcomes and, as an executive, you should be able to produce plenty of these. This section should contain 5 or 6, in the form of bullet pointed sentences, but you can include others throughout your career history.

In executive CV writing, you must include information about results in the form of increased profits or productivity, cost or time savings, takeovers and mergers, size of workforce or teams managed, number of sites, etc. The best achievements are positive in nature, but dealing well with a negative event can also be classed as an accomplishment.

Each achievement listed on your Executive CV needs to highlight your leadership skills and qualities. This means showing the employer how you work and how your strengths are engaged in the workplace, so that employers can see that you are qualified for the management jobs they are seeking to fill.

To do this, always provide a context of an organisational goal or project target. When describing decision-making, sum up the considerations that went into the evaluation. For difficult situations and damage limitation experiences, specify the risk and why avoiding it was so important.

Always be extremely specific with the details of your achievements. By showing that you have fully considered all the ramifications, you were reducing the sense of risk that an employer might feel in making this appointment.

Prioritise your achievements according to your strengths as relevant to the vacancy. This means that you may need to reorganise your Executive CV for each job that you apply for.

Remember: leadership and management are two different things. Management skills concern practicalities. Leadership skills are more personal attributes and can be harder to define. Managers act, but leaders can inspire.

It's possible to be both at the same time, but not all managers are good leaders. You need to show that you are both by including information about leadership as well as management throughout your achievements.

Career History for Your Executive CV

In this section of your Executive CV, you should provide details of your positions from the last 10 years. List the employer, your position and inclusive dates, with 5 to 6 points beneath, stating what you did in that role.

From jobs held prior to that time, simply list the basic information, unless the position was highly relevant to the vacancy to the point where it simply can't be omitted.

Avoid listing the items on your job descriptions, but instead focus on what you actually did in those positions. You can write these points up as achievements - the more quantification and specific information you provide, the better.

If the employer is still reading your Executive CV at this stage, they are fairly interested in your application, so you really need to push your advantage home. The last thing you need to do is be vague, so that the reader's attention drifts and they stop reading.

Throughout the career history, focus on vital areas of management responsibility. Strategic planning is vital, as managers need to view the broader pictures and make decisions pertaining to the organisation in that context. This needs to be underpinned by financial management skills and ability to understand past performance and projecting future performance.

Decision making is central to any executive management role, with a foundation of analysis and evaluation of information, even under pressure.

Business development is central to an organisation's future and involves innovation, creativity and a strong understanding of the marketplace.

Meanwhile, change management has never been more crucial on an Executive CV, with businesses facing many challenges in the economic recession.

The ability to interact with, deal with and manage other people is the touchstone of good leadership in executive management, whichever division the management role is in. Communication skills are, of course, closely allied to this ability. You need to ensure that all of these qualities - and more - are in evidence throughout your CV.

If your work is technical, it may be worth including a short skills section on the front page of your Executive CV. This can go beneath the achievements section, with your technical skills presented in the form of a small table. This will free you from having to repeat technical skills throughout your career history section.

Executive CV Qualifications and Training

You should list your most recent educational qualification first. If this is a post graduate qualification, and you've gained it relatively recently (i.e. within the past 5 years) include a line about your thesis or placement beneath the basic information.

Certifications should also be included, especially if they relate to your management level work. If these are recent, yet your educational qualifications were a longer time ago - i.e. more than 10 years - list the certifications first.

There is no need to include all the proprietary training you may have undertaken with employers, as 1 or 2-day courses are not significant enough. However, you can group these together in a single or double line entry if you feel they strengthen your skill set.

Do include membership of any associations on your Executive CV, especially if membership is only through accredited examination.

Pages an executive might want to look at:


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