In our previous post in the How to Write an Awesome Executive Resume series, we went into great detail about the importance of crafting a strong Executive Summary. That section sets the tone for the entire resume, and if done correctly, should entice the readers to want to explore the executive resume further. So you want to be sure to maintain the momentum from the Executive Summary and create a Professional Experience section that showcases your career progression, highlights your major contributions, and supports the branding statement in the opening summary.
In the Professional Experience section, I like to break each position into two parts:
- A clear scope of the position
- Major contributions and quantifiable achievements
Separating the job description from the accomplishments is critical as recruiters and hiring managers need to be able to differentiate 1) what the job entailed and 2) what you were really able to achieve in the role.
Scope of the position
Quite simply, this should tell the reader what you were hired to do. In a three to four sentence paragraph, you need to clarify what your primary responsibilities were and how your role fit into the organization as a whole. For example, if you were a Human Resources Director, you would want to describe what functional areas your managed, the top strategic goals you were working to achieve, the number of direct and indirect reports beneath you, budget responsibilities, etc. Avoid getting into too much detail or focusing on the more tactical aspects of the role.
Sometimes it helps to imagine that you’re explaining what you do to 10-year old. Describe your role in simple, easy to understand terms that anybody can understand. This helps to avoid including too much “industry speak” and extraneous details of the role that many not be necessary.
Quantify your achievements
This is easier to do in some positions (sales and operations) than others (strategic planning and organizational development), but anybody in any kind of role should be able to describe the impact they had. For a sales executive, recruiters would want to see proof of your success such as beating your quota by x percent, growing year-over-year sales by x percent, securing major client accounts, etc. For an organizational development executive, hiring managers would want to see specific initiatives that you development and rolled out and what the impact of those programs were. Did they increase retention? Improve company morale?
The real gold nuggets within a resume are the bits of information that demonstrate the true value you brought to a role and how it impacted the company. If you can’t show that you can perform and consistently exceed expectations in your previous roles, why would a prospective employer have any incentive to bring you into their company. The job-seekers that consistently win interviews are those who can prove (hopefully with verifiable numbers) that they have been an asset to previous employers.
Example of a well-crafted position
Notice how easy it is to understand what this person was hired to do. And if somebody was quickly scanning through the document, the bulleted achievements stand out on the page and are easy to find.
Other quick tips
- 99% of job seekers should use the reverse chronological format
- Only use the functional forrmat if you have zero relevant experience
- Consider describing the firm in a short if this will impress the reader
- Avoid including months in the dates, unless you had the job for
- Use the heading “Professional Experience” rather than “Experience” or “Work History”
I think the Professional Experience section of the resume is a bit easier to write than the Executive Summary because it’s more objective. Keep in mind the suggestions I’ve provided and you shouldn’t have any problems creating a summary of your experience that succinctly explains your career history and the specific value you provided in each role.