Writing an executive CV can be a daunting task — especially if it’s your first time. Here is my guide to writing a winning executive resume in 2024...

By Cristina Ródenas, Senior Partner Page Executive

Capturing all your career highlights and presenting them succinctly is a time-consuming task, and it’s not as easy as updating your previous CV with a few new achievements. Applying for senior and C-level roles usually involves a major overhaul of your layout and content, so it’s common to wonder if you’ve got it “right”. 

Having placed over 2,000 candidates in senior management and leadership positions worldwide in 2023, the team at Page Executive knows what it takes to write a winning executive CV. Over the years, I have held several workshops on executive CV writing at some of the world's leading business schools. In this article, I'm going to share top tips from our internal expertise and research, as well as the current skills and experiences that recruiters value as we move into 2024.

What executive skills will companies look for in 2024?

When writing an executive CV, it’s essential to demonstrate the evergreen skills of leadership, strategy, and change management to separate you from candidates with less quality and experience. Back up your claims with evidence of the hard and soft skills you’ve demonstrated for maximum impact. 

As we move into the new year, the value of digital awareness is continuing to increase. This is because leaders who can bridge the gap between senior management and tech teams are essential for digital transformation and the adaptation of new technologies. 

Similarly, environmental, social and governance (ESG) and diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) issues are continuing to rise in importance. Executives with the ability to take the lead on these issues while energising their teams are in high demand. 

However, the supply of these skills is low, which can work in your favour. Boards desperately looking for a mix of proven results and forward-thinking mindsets are even beginning to share sought-after executives such as Chief Sustainability Officers. 

If you have tangible achievements in any of these areas or belong to any relevant professional associations, make sure employers know about them.

How to highlight skills to become a first-time executive

Nobody was born an executive; they all had to take a step up at some point in their careers. It can be intimidating to write an executive CV if you’ve never held a senior role, so knowing how to focus on your leadership-ready skills is a must. Make sure to highlight the achievements that call on executive responsibilities and emphasise any experience leading projects. 

All executive CVs should show a deep understanding of the skills needed for the role you’re applying for. Therefore, rather than sending a one-size-fits-all document for each position, absorb the job description, research the organisation’s goals and make sure that your profile is a solution to your recruiter’s needs. 

What to include in a winning executive CV for 2024

Now we’ve got a good idea of the context, we’re going to get into the granular detail of what to include (and what to leave out!) in an executive CV. 

✔ An engaging and logical structure: 

As the skeleton of your CV, the layout should guide executive search professionals effortlessly through your career. This means using relevant headings for each section as well as keywords that mirror the job description. 

✔ Personal details: Dos and don’ts

Personal details are a potential minefield on an executive CV, so here are a few tips on what to feature and what to leave out.

What you should include: 

- Your full name. Employers need to know who they’re talking to.
- An email address. The more professional, the better.
- A phone number. Only if you want to be contacted by phone.
- A link to your LinkedIn profile. Think of it as “further reading”. A CV is a snapshot; your LinkedIn goes into greater detail.

What you should leave out:

- A photo. A photo shows nothing about your ability to do a job, occupies valuable space and can awaken unconscious biases in the recruiter. 
- Your date of birth. Similar to a photo, your date of birth pinpoints your age and can influence your employer’s decision. 
- Your nationality. As long as you can legally work in the country, your nationality is irrelevant.
- Your location. Of course it is up to you should you wish to include your current location depending on your personal situation. But, if you want recruiters to consider you for positions further afield, I advise to leave it out.  

✔ Integrated personal branding

In a sea of executive contenders, what makes you stand out? At the senior management level, companies value cultural fit as much as a strong track record, so consider your career successes and identify the common threads that tie them together. This is what encapsulates your personal brand, which you should weave into every section for a CV that resonates with recruiters.

✔ Notable achievements

Here you can pinpoint up to five key achievements that you want to draw attention to. Include personal and company awards, growth figures and initiatives you’ve led that set your career apart.

✔ A career overview

Before delving into your full professional experience, offer a concise sentence that sums up your profile. Again, be sure to highlight what makes you a leading candidate for the specific role and responsibilities you’re applying for. 

✔ An exploration of your professional experience 

When it comes to CVs, you need to be brief. But that doesn’t mean a quick-fire list of job titles. Include two or three bullet points for each position that demonstrate the impact you had on your previous companies. Don’t forget to include special awards or recognitions related to your leadership skills, as these can be a strong differentiator. 

✔ Your education and qualifications

Many executive CVs often include higher education achievements, especially if they are relevant to the role. A master’s in finance is ideal for a CFO candidate and a course in sociology is great for a well-rounded CEO. Of course, any industry-specific qualifications, security clearances and voluntary work demonstrate your commitment and depth of knowledge, so include the institution and dates of any other relevant experience in this regard. And of course, don't forget to include the languages you speak! 

Here's an example of what your executive CV could look like:

Final checklist for your winning CV... 

When you’re revising your executive CV, use the following checklist to stop key information from falling through the gaps.

 Contact information: Ensure updated and accurate contact details.

 Career overview: Tailored to the role you're targeting.

✔ Professional experience: Highlight achievements, not just responsibilities.

✔ Keywords: Include industry and role-specific keywords.

✔ Skills: Showcase a balance of soft and hard skills.

✔ Education: Detail academic qualifications and relevant certifications.

✔ Professional affiliations: Include memberships in industry associations.

✔ Customisation: Tailor your CV for each specific role.

✔ Format: Ensure a clean, professional and ATS-friendly layout.

✔ Proofreading: Check for errors in grammar, spelling and consistency.

Need a second opinion?

If you need help, or if you simply want a second opinion, trusted family and friends can offer a fresh pair of eyes. But for an expert opinion, why not reach out to one of your local Page Executive consultant who may help you to fine-tune your executive CV for your specific market and function.

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