Looking to progress your career with a new senior-level role? Although networking and connections can often lead to C-level success, no matter what stage of your career you’re at updating your CV is an unavoidable step.
By updating your executive-level CV you’ll increase your chances of getting called to interview. It’ll also help you focus and figure out what type of senior position is right for you.
When a recruiter opens your CV, you have about six seconds to impress. To do this you need to make sure you’re including the right information and formatting your CV properly. It’s how you package it up that really matters.
No CV should be more than 2 pages, regardless of how much experience you have. From my experience, CV’s are often dismissed if they aren’t concise and well structured. After all if you’re going to be a CEO, you’ll have to be able to articulate your point with precision.
As a recruiter who has read countless CVs trust me less is more! Here are my top tips for creating a CV that will get you the senior level role you really want.
Executive Level CV Advice
How should I structure my C-Level CV?
If you’re struggling to put together an executive level, or higher, CV I’ve addressed all the crucial requirements to ensure you articulate your skills the right way.
- Mission – The first part of your CV should highlight your passion and a synopsis of your expertise. A key tip for this section is to address any skill gaps you have right away.
- Skills – To make this section as easy to read as possible use bullet points and tailor the skills you list to the prospective role. Look at the job description and ascertain the skills you have they NEED. The goal is to create a concise section that straight away shows any recruiter you’re a good fit for the job. For example, people can waste a lot of CV space describing in-depth research experience, whereas really the employer just wants to see you’re skilled at a managerial level.
- Work Experience – For a senior position, I recommend breaking up work experience into a duties and impact This enables you to really pack a punch and convey the impact and strategic results you have achieved in the past. What you include in the ‘impact’ section is what will really get you noticed.
Unsure what to list in your ‘impact’ section? Focus on strategic decisions you made and the engagement, influence, and financial impact you achieved for previous employers. Achievements should begin with action verbs, here are some examples:
Published XYZ, delivered a presentation to the director of EMEA, exceeded sales targets, represented my team in the global headquarters, repeatedly achieved funding and sponsorship etc.
- Education – For executive roles keep this section straight forward and list any academic qualifications in chronological order. Personally, I would list all your education dating back to your leaving cert (or equivalent) as it’s important to reflect all of your qualifications.
- Professional Accreditation – People often list a range of letters after their main header, this can be off-putting and not very memorable. I find including a section on your CV with the below works better:
- Professional Development – Include any relevant certificates and courses you’ve completed
- Awards and Recognition – If you’ve excelled in your career include a section to highlight your key achievements
- Interests – One sentence is enough here, but it is important to include. Interests highlight that you’re an all-rounder and have hobbies outside of work. It can also show how your interests might fit into the culture of the organization.
Executive Level Cover Letter Tips
Should I spend time writing a Cover Letter or is a one-size-fits-all generic letter enough?
If you’re applying for executive-level roles, you’ll need a strong cover letter. Cover letters should:
- Be customised to the role
- Highlight your motivation for the role
- Highlight your level of expertise
Cover letters are particularly relevant in the public sector where candidates are shortlisted upon the information provided here. Its importance is equal to that of your CV and a generic cover letter is extremely off-putting to employers.
Personally, I have found there’s a misconception that cover letters are not read, this couldn’t be any further from the truth. The person reading your letter will potentially hire and work with you so take this chance to express your passion for the role.
To really stand out connect your beliefs to the beliefs of the organisation. Some questions that the employer will ask themselves while reading your senior-level cover letter are:
- Does this applicant have the basic skills to fulfil this role?
- What added value can this applicant achieve for us?
- Will this applicant fit with the culture of our organisation?
- Why is this applicant leaving their current job? What are they hoping to gain from switching jobs?
- What transferable skills do they have?
What if I don’t have all the skills they are looking for?
Addressing gaps in your cover letter
From experience, this won’t hamper your chances drastically once you strategically address the gaps and highlight your transferrable skills.
If this position is a career change and you are moving industries, you’ll need to highlight your strengths that are transferrable across any industry.
Another good way to address gaps is by highlighting the commitment you have in further developing yourself in these areas and how you’ve done this in the past. Your passion for the role should come across as unquestionable.
What to do if you don’t get offered the position?
Ask for feedback and take note as to what you can improve on next time. You are entitled to feedback under the Freedom of Information Act so make sure to ask.
Take into consideration what you could have done better and commit to the professional development needed to ensure you are positioned to get the role next time.
Acquiring skills can require training and continuous development so start enrolling in courses if needed.
Ultimately always keep the employer in mind when structuring your CV and your cover letter. This is your 6-second window to direct your application to them.
Show your passion, highlight your strengths, address your gaps, try not to waste space with irrelevant information and most importantly keep it concise.