Improve Your Executive CV With These Essential CV Writing Tips
There is simply no room for sloppiness or careless mistakes on an executive CV.
Your CV is a direct reflection of your communication skills and professionalism, and a small error may very well cost you a coveted opportunity.
When writing an executive CV, it is critically important to pay attention to the minor details.
Before you send yours out, run through our list of executive CV essentials below.
1. Provide an Overview of Your Career Highlights
If you are writing a two-page CV, provide a summary with clear supporting evidence that demonstrates your career trajectory and the value you bring to a company.
For this section, you can use one of two headings:
Option 1: Career Highlights / Professional Summary
Instead of writing a generic professional summary in paragraph format, use 4-5 achievement-based bullet points to craft an overview of your career.
You should be especially careful to avoid generic industry buzzwords and provide specific examples instead.
Option 2: Key Expertise
In lieu of (or in addition to) a summary section, you can consider including a two-column bulleted list that summarises your key areas of expertise.
Avoid listing soft skills such as “strong communicator” and “team player.”
Instead, highlight key technical proficiencies that are relevant to your industry.
2. Outline Your Work History
Unless you have a strong reason for not doing so, list your professional experience in reverse chronological order.
Other CV formats aren't well-received by recruiters and can be incompatible with applicant tracking systems.
Be sure to include:
- Always list both the month and year of employment to avoid raising questions as to whether you're being completely transparent
- If you only list years of employment, it’s likely that recruiters will ask for a more detailed breakdown later anyway
- If you held multiple positions at one company, you should break out the dates you held each role
3. Highlight Your Accomplishments
To stand out from other applicants, use your bullet points to explain what you accomplished in each role – not just what you did day-to-day.
- Did you increase sales? By how much?
- Did you sign deals? How many?
- Did you save the company money? How?
- Did you work on special projects? What impact did they have?
4. Be Specific
Never assume the reader will know what you mean.
Don’t say that you signed “multiple” deals with companies in “various” sectors, for example.
Spell it out.
Quantify your contributions and the scope of your work whenever possible.
5. Write Concisely
Say much as possible using as few words as possible.
And avoid flowery and self-promotional language.
6. Format Neatly
Any of the following formatting slips convey sloppiness and poor attention to detail:
- Lack of alignment
- Inconsistent spacing between sections
- Multiple fonts/font sizes in one section
- Cluttered or “claustrophobic” appearance (from attempting to squeeze too much onto a page)
- Unprofessional fonts/colors
7. Stick to CV Writing Conventions
Let your experience speak for itself.
You don’t need fancy design to make your CV stand out.
In our experience, it’s better to keep your format simple and stick to traditional CV writing conventions.
8. Check Your Grammar and Spelling
Your grammar and spelling need to be 100% correct.
9. Don't Overlook the Basics
Your header should contain accurate, up-to-date contact information.
It sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how often we can't contact a candidate because of a typo in their phone number or email address!
If you hold any professional designations such as “CPA” or “CFA,” consider listing them after your name as well.
Be sure to provide a professional personal email address.
An email address such as FirstLastName@gmail.com will work fine.
However, we recommend avoiding email providers that can give off a dated imagine including Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL and MSN.
You should provide a phone number that you check regularly.
Before sending out your CV, double-check that your voicemail greeting is clearly recorded and professional.
You should also avoid providing your company phone number.
At a minimum, you should list your city on your CV.
Recruiters who use applicant tracking systems often filter applications by location, so it's best practice to include it.
You can also list your full mailing address, but this is no longer a strict requirement.
Applicant tracking systems recognise links to LinkedIn profiles, so you can consider including yours on your CV.
If you do, we recommend creating a custom, abbreviated LinkedIn URL.
Be sure that your LinkedIn content aligns with that of your CV, as any inconsistencies can raise red flags.
10. Print Your CV on Paper and Copy Edit
It’s easy for your eyes to glean over errors when you’re reading a document on your screen.
We always recommend printing it on paper and copy editing the old-fashioned way!
Recruiters repeatedly tell us that an executive CV should be fact-based, achievement-driven and to the point.
By following the tips outlined above, you'll be well on your way to creating a document you can be confident in.
About CV Pilots
CV Pilots is an award-winning executive CV writing, career coaching and outplacement firm. Our previous clients include CEOs and senior executives at the world's leading companies.
Here's how we can help you:
CV, Cover Letter and LinkedIn Writing: After a one-hour phone consultation, one of our expert writers will prepare your top-quality personal marketing materials from scratch.
Career Transitions: A powerful combination of our document writing and career coaching services helps position you to secure a new role.
We're a proud member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches. All of our writers have studied at top-tier universities and have solid industry experience.