Times have changed and so have CVs. If you don’t know what the tell-tale signs of a weak CV looks like in 2023, or how to write an executive CV in line with ATS requirements and latest standards, then this article is for you.
We’re giving you career-boosting CV advice in the form of six essential tips that will not only ensure your executive CV lands on the employer’s desk every time, but also that you stand out in the sea of other executive CVs on their desk.
What to exclude from an executive CV
If you haven’t looked at your executive CV in a while, it may be due for an upgrade. The layout and format of CVs in 2023 is a lot different than a few years ago, so if you’re still bolstering yours with outdated information, it’s a dead giveaway to recruiters that you haven’t grown with the times.
Before we get into our top six tips on how to create a CV that wins, let’s first look at what not to include in your executive CV:
- Photos: If your old CV has a nice headshot of you included at the top, remove it. A photo conveys nothing to the recruiter about your competency, it wastes prime real estate and anti-discrimination laws mean recruiters must disregard it anyway.
- Soft skills: As an executive, you’re passed the point of including words like ‘teamwork’ and ‘organisation’ in your skills section. Generic soft skills are important for entry-level CVs, but not for an executive one.
- Old dates: If you’ve been working for a long time, you may want to remove some dates from your early career. While showing experience over the last 10 or so years is important, your recruiter doesn’t need to know about that summer job you had at university. Recent experiences sell you best and keep your CV current.
- Personal details: Other than your contact information, you don’t need to include personal details on CVs any more. Your birthday and nationality are as relevant as mentioning your favourite movie, and they also compromise anti-discrimination laws.
- First person: Ditch the first person narrative. Instead, adopt the absent first person. It’s more concise, and widely considered to be the most professional way of writing. For example, you’d change ‘I acted as lead advisor and strategist’ to: ‘Acted as lead advisor and strategist’
Now that we’ve got those out of the way, let’s talk about what you should do. Writing a winning executive CV in 2023 is all about demonstrating your higher-level executive skills, showing how you deliver results by quantifying your claims and identifying your USP (unique selling point) so that you can position yourself as a highly desirable candidate.
So, without further ado, here are our top six CV advice tips for executives in 2023.
How to write an executive CV in 2023
1. Get your personal statement right
Your personal statement is like your elevator pitch. It’s the first thing recruiters read and it needs to make a strong impression. Avoid bland, generic statements and summarising your career. Instead, get specific and shine a spotlight on what makes you unique.
Here’s a list of things you should be including in your personal statement:
- What is it exactly that you do
- A concise description of your areas of expertise
- Your unique selling point, i.e. what you do better than anyone else
- An achievement that demonstrates the value you’ll bring to the role
- Your leadership style
A big red flag for recruiters is when a candidate uses their personal statement to describe what they’re looking for in an employer. Remember that no matter how experienced you are, you’re selling yourself to them, not the other way around.
2. Demonstrate a clear sense of direction
Knowing where you’re going, and having an employment history that reflects that, shows employers that you’re focused and career-driven. When you write a CV, it’s important to think of it as a narrative. Ensure that everything you include adds value to your claims and demonstrates a clear ambition.
It’s equally important to show that you have a clear sense of direction as a business leader, and are able to guide a team of people towards fulfilling objectives. You can reflect this on your executive CV by providing a real-life case of when, for example, you initiated a business improvement project and how you led others, overcame challenges, and ensured key stakeholders and senior executives were kept up to date during the lifetime of the project.
3. Include high-level, executive skills
Your executive CV is not the place for soft skills. As an executive, it’s a given that you possess entry-level skills like communication, time management, and organisation. Instead, your skills sections should focus on unique competencies that are industry-specific, and leadership and management skills that will translate into executive positions.
Here are some examples of the types of hard skills seen on executive-level CVs:
- Leadership and management: Business Process Improvement, Change Management, Strategic Planning, Contract Negotiation, Team Building
- Financial management: Management Information Systems, Budgeting, Mergers and Acquisitions
- Technology: Digital Transformation, Performance Test Management, Business Intelligence
You may also want to sprinkle your skills section with keywords mentioned in the job description you’re applying for. This is one strategic way of making your CV ATS-friendly and getting it in front of the employer.
4. Include your LinkedIn profile
A CV is important, but it shouldn’t be the only snapshot recruiters get of you. In all likelihood, if employers are interested in you, they will want to do some digging to learn more about you. Including your professional LinkedIn profile makes it easier for them to do this, while also allowing you to show them exactly what you want them to see.
Ensure your LinkedIn profile is carefully curated so that it reflects well on your career, experience and personality. Having a catalogue of industry-specific articles that you’ve written there will also be beneficial in demonstrating your authority. LinkedIn is also a great place to show off more skills that have been endorsed by other professionals, making you all the more desirable for your prospective employer.
5. Quantify your claims
If you’ve improved revenue growth in your previous role, prove it. It’s crucial to provide quantifiers for every claim. Including tangible figures that support your claims allows employers to assess the scope of your accomplishments and the impacts they’ve had.
It’s similarly important to quantify the main elements of your previous roles. Don’t just give a job title and a generic description of your day-to-day responsibilities. Quantify what sized teams you led, in what ways you were successful, the specific results you delivered, and so on. Providing this information is vital in demonstrating that you have the required skills and competencies for your new role.
6. Show that you’re a success story
Our final piece of CV advice is to ensure that your key contributions and achievements shine. Every employer loves a success story and wants one on their team. Your achievements section in your CV should reflect (and quantify) all the successes you’ve had and the contributions you’ve made in your career.
This section is also your chance to demonstrate your value to the employer by showing them how you go that extra mile. Here are some ideas of the kinds of things you can include:
- Awards that you received in recognition of your work
- KPIs or targets that you exceeded
- Any examples of when you increased profits or revenue
- Contributions to cost reduction within an organisation
- Examples of when you successfully engaged and retained customers
- A time when you solved a challenge or overcame an obstacle
Create a CV that outshines the competition
Remember to continually update and curate your CV so that it’s always in-step with the times and aligned with the role you’re applying for.
If you need extra support, contact our friendly team and we’ll be happy to help with all your CV writing needs.