How to Write A Chief Executive Officer Resume The Right Way
As an experienced CEO who has led many organizations to the next level of success—whether a public, not-for-profit, or a private equity firm you expected a thunderous welcome to the job search market. Instead, you’ve been a bit surprised by the lack of interest your CEO resume has garnered.
What could be the issue?
Let’s explore a few of the most common problems I see with CEO resumes as an expert executive resume writer.
Top 3 Issues With Chief Executive Officer Resumes
Possible Issue #1: Your Resume Lacks Personal Branding
What is personal branding? A personally branded resume communicates more than just experience. It broadcasts who you are as a leader and what differentiates you.
When a CEO resume is branded, it promotes your leadership style, vision, philosophy, and your unique value offer. In other words, the tangible and the intangible aspects of what makes you a high-impact executive.
Why is Personal Branding Important As a CEO?
You see, those who know you don’t need to see your resume to determine if you are ideal for a particular CEO position. In fact, based on your reputation, you have been sought after for most of the positions in your career. Correct? Thus, if you are networking to find a new career opportunity, the traditional non-branded resume would suffice.
When your ‘fans’ pass along your executive resume to decision-makers who don’t know you, your CEO resume has failed to show them what an amazing leader you are. Sure, the hard data is there, but the new CEO resume is a personally branded document that markets your value offer.
Questions to Help You Define Your CEO brand
Answer the following questions and weave the answers into the first 1/3 of your resume.
Why are you the best CEO for that position?
What experience positions you to rise above other qualified CEOs?
What is your signature as a leader?
What is your reputation?
Why are you a CEO in the field that you are in?
What is the legacy you will leave behind as you move on to the next role?
Possible Issue #2: The New CEO Resume Is About Change
Sought-after CEOs are not focused on the past but on leading the future. As the chief executive officer (CEO), you’ve held the highest-ranking position at XYZ company. But more than deliver growth, you have been the escort through periods of change.
What are employers, stakeholders, and board members expecting you to grapple with in the future? Let’s discuss a few change strategies that are critical to promote on your CEO resume.
Transition Phase. When a new CEO takes over the helm, employees, customers, senior executives, and investors fear the shift. When a CEO change occurs, especially when it is a sudden replacement, it is essential that in the new CEO’s 30-, 60-, 90-day plan there is a strategy to manage this phase.
Can you discuss periods where your leadership brought stability and created a more productive culture amid revolving leadership?
Growth Through Innovation. A technology-driven world is making it easier to decentralize organizational models and work in a more cross-functional and cross-geographical environment. Hence, tomorrow’s CEO transforms business visions into reality through innovation—outdistancing competitors, maximizing ROI, and creating strong brands that stay a step ahead of market needs. In fact, there is a growing consensus that tomorrow’s ideal CEO will be the CIO.
Can you share a story about modernizing the work environment? About introducing new business models and pairing efforts with your CIO/CTO to bring trending technology to the workforce?
Social Responsibility. Are you the type of CEO who delivers shareholder returns through the eyes of a more holistic leader? Are you an executive who understands decisions impact the environment, our society, and the economy?
A recent post in The New York Times shares the following: “The Business Roundtable says corporations should support communities and protect the environment, as priorities coequal with generating returns for shareholders.”
What say you and do you have any stories to support your philosophy?
Possible Problem #3: Spinning Accountabilities Into Milestones
Most CEO resumes detail the responsibilities of a Chief Executive Officer. You might also see some quantifiable data in the resume.
More often, they play it traditionally and list major responsibilities such as:
- Corporate decision making
- Operations transformation
- Board of directors reporting
- Brand representation (media, spokesperson, etc.)
- Financial responsibility and P&L management
While you still must check the boxes on what is required of you as the CEO to ensure returns, you must tell a story about championing results against odds. Therefore, you must paint the backdrop. Here is a story a fellow writer once shares with me which I have included in my worksheets as part of our resume writing process:
“If you come home from work and your significant other says he/she washed the windows today, you wouldn’t be that impressed. But if he/she shared that there was a fire at the neighbor’s house the day before and all the windows were covered in soot, then you would definitely be impressed.”
Contrast! Read this article on Copyblogger.com to learn how to leverage the power of polarities and comparison to tell a high-impact story.
Bottom-Line: Tell A Future-Focused CEO Story
Convert your CEO resume from a passive document that shares information to an active document that inspires creative thinking and creates a sense of desire for your leadership.
To accomplish this CEO resume transformation, you must first understand what this new company you would like to work for needs.
While this does mean you would have to modify your CEO resume to each position, that modification will help you achieve the best results and make the strongest connection.