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3 Resume Challenges Executives Need to Overcome (and how to do it)

executive resume challenges

When targeting an executive role, your resume must appeal to high-level recruiters, leaders in the C-Suite and sometimes Board Members.

They need to understand how you can solve their business problems – by giving them an inside peek of what you’ve done for others.

In my experience, addressing the three top concerns voiced by my clients, and applying the techniques described below, yield documents that showcase your value as an Executive (or potential Executive) – and open the door to your next opportunity.

1. I Don’t Sound “Executive” Enough

When targeting an executive role, your resume must scream “leadership,” not “worker bee.” In other words, an executive resume must show the reader you are ideally suited to lead a team, organization or initiative.

It starts with a headline just below your name and contact information. The purpose of this headline is to show the reader the kinds of roles you are targeting. Follow it up with a summary or branding paragraph immediately below that gives the reader a preview of how you have created and executed a winning strategy.

Headline + Branding Paragraph

Skip the generic language where you describe yourself as a “Seasoned Professional” or someone with a “strong track record of success,” and replace it with details unique to you.


Strategies that Produce Game-Changing Multimillion-Dollar Solutions

Build and empower teams of 150+ top product management talent across 3 continents. Apply strategy and engineering acumen acquired designing and delivering solutions for IBM + VMWare in hyper-growth, startup environments.


Job Description

When it comes to describing your roles – think “brochure,” not “blueprint.” Worker bee blueprint resumes often contain a laundry list of every responsibility you’ve had in each role., whereas executive brochures show the reader your accomplishments.

Examples of blueprint-like job description bullets:

  • Spearheaded the initiatives to converge solutions to Cloud and to scale CRM Cloud business with the delivery of industry verticals.
  • Defined a framework to assess and arrive at a comprehensive product portfolio for industry segments, based on market opportunities, existing install base and time to market as key drivers.

Aim for “brochure” bullets that show you understand the strategic impact of your efforts – and give the reader a sneak peek at what you could do for them.

Examples of brochure bullets:

  • Led team of 120 that converged cloud and scaled CRM cloud businesses solutions with industry vertical delivery. Ensured that $48M in contract renewals, hinging on strategy success, came to fruition.

Upon skim and in-depth reads, a well-written executive resume spells out for the decision-maker what YOU can do for THEM by showing tangible examples of what you’ve done before.

Also read: Resume Mistakes: 3 Ways You’re Burying the Lead

2. I’m Good at What I Do – but Struggle to Say It on Paper

The adage “numbers speak louder than words” absolutely applies to executive resumes. To land an interview, you must present evidence that you add value – and can quantify it.

If your efforts resulted in revenue growth or boosted productivity – state how and by how much. If you are bound by confidentiality rules, convert dollar figures into percentages.

Suffer from writer’s block? Ask yourself what you are proudest of when reflecting on each role. Your responses should be the basis for your achievements.

3. I Want to Change Industries

Whether making a leap to a new industry or returning to an old one, your branding section and job descriptions must clearly indicate that your experience, skills, and achievements are well-aligned with the industry you aspire to join.

Highlights Based on Relevancy

When considering your career achievements, highlight those pertinent to your targeted industry and lead off with them below each job title when detailing your work experience.

If applicable, make it clear you’ve had success in more than one industry right off the bat in your branding paragraph. It might read as follows:

Delivers solutions embraced by clients spanning Financials Services, Retail, CPG and High-Tech, among others.


Every industry has its own acronyms and terminology. Showing the reader that you speak fluently in the language of the industry you are targeting shows decision makers you understand their world.

Learn the lingo by speaking with those who work in your target field, and peruse industry websites, publications, and job postings – and be sure to weave it throughout your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Strategies for Compelling Executive Resumes

I work primarily with aspiring, mid-level and senior executives – the majority whom have never needed a resume in years . . . until now.

The strategies outlined above will ensure your executive resume contains a sharp focus, powerful summary, and conveys quantifiable achievements. Most importantly, your resume will convey leadership and answer for the reader what you can do for them!

Also read: Beat the Applicant Tracking System and Get Your Resume in Front of a Human

About the Author

Virginia Franco, NCRW, CPRW is the founder of Virginia Franco Resumes which offers customized executive resume and LinkedIn profile writing services for the 21st century job seeker.