“How Long Should My Executive Resume Be?” Answered

by | Resumes & LinkedIn

“How long should my executive resume be?”

One of the most common questions leaders have about their executive resumes is how to determine the ideal length.

It’s normal for many questions to arise when crafting an executive-level resume, particularly if it’s been 5, 10, 20, or more years since you last looked for a job and updated your career documents.

Alongside your LinkedIn profile, your executive resume is likely to be the first impression a prospective employer has of you, so it needs to be polished if you want to stand a chance of landing an interview in today’s competitive job market.

Continue reading to learn how long your executive resume should be, what to include in it, and common mistakes to avoid as you craft your document.

What Makes An Executive Resume Different?

Senior-level positions often require someone with both breadth and depth of experience in their functional area and industry, a strong leadership aptitude, exceptional cross-functional skills, and demonstrated people management abilities, all of which must be reflected in your executive resume.

Executives also often have 10, 20, or more years of progressive experience that can extend across multiple companies, industries, and functional areas, which needs to be encapsulated in your document.

Moreover, your executive resume will likely be read by diverse stakeholders who are evaluating the same document for different attributes. Some of the individuals who may read and review your resume include:

  • Executive recruiters
  • Executive headhunters
  • Sourcers
  • Hiring managers
  • Executive peers
  • Board members

All these factors make it more challenging to write a compelling, keyword-optimized executive resume that effectively synthesizes and consolidates your attributes and conveys why you’re the best candidate for an open position.

[Read: 6 Ways To Make Writing Your Resume Less Challenging]

What To Include In An Executive Resume?

Typical sections of an executive resume include:

  • Executive summary
  • Professional experience (work history and accomplishments)
  • Civic engagement and volunteer experience
  • Board involvement
  • Education, certification, and advanced training

Depending on your background, you might also include sections for technology, trademarks, patents, publications, speaking engagements, and other relevant information.

What To Include In An Executive Resume

Deciding what to include in your executive-level resume is likely easier than you might think. You can choose a handful of target job postings, which you can think of as “recipe cards,” to guide you in crafting a resume that includes the right mixture and quantity of experiences and accomplishments.

For example, if a job posting at your target company lists, “Experience leading change management,” you want to ensure you have an accomplishment related to driving change leadership on your resume.

Although you want to include relevant position details like your team size and budget oversight on your resume, your document will be more compelling and help you land more interviews if you accentuate your results rather than your responsibilities.

One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is focusing too heavily on their day-to-day work while forgetting to highlight the value and impact of their contributions.

As an executive you want the vast majority of your resume to be focused on your accomplishments, not your responsibilities, since you’re measured by your impact at the end of the day.

Do You Put Skills On An Executive Resume?

Because recruiters are often reviewing hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes for a single open role, you definitely want to include relevant industry and leadership skills.

One option is to include an “Executive Assets” section at the end of your career summary, sometimes referred to as an executive summary, that quickly communicates your key leadership strengths. You don’t need to recreate the wheel here either; you can extract these keywords directly from the position description.

[Read: The Truth About Lying On Your Resume]

Another option is strategically and intentionally weaving these keywords throughout your document to draw the reader’s attention to your relevant accomplishments. This might look like starting each accomplishment with a relevant keyword or phrase from the job posting. If you are applying to a CTO role, for instance, one of the bullets may begin with, “ENGINEERING TEAM LEADERSHIP:” to make it easy for the reader to find your relevant experience.

Importantly, you want to avoid appearing as if you’re keyword stuffing, and you definitely don’t want to include a laundry list of 30 or 40 keywords at the end of your document.

How Long Should An Executive Resume Be?

Before resumes were submitted digitally via applicant tracking systems (ATS), people kept their resumes to a single page because they were printed and physically delivered to employers.

Now that your application is unlikely to be printed, you don’t need to worry about keeping your resume to a single page. You’re likely doing yourself a disservice if you’re an experienced senior-level professional, manager, or executive who is attempting to condense your experience to one page.

The typical executive resume is two pages in length, as this allows you to adequately share your experience and accomplishments with recruiters and hiring managers without leaving out valuable information.

Note: There are exceptions to this rule for industries like higher education and government that require lengthier resumes or curriculum vitae (CV). However, the job application should explicitly clarify if you need to submit a resume or a comprehensive CV.

As a tech career coach who specializes in senior managers and executives, more than 95% of my clients have two-page resumes and have landed roles at Meta, Google, Amazon, and nearly every other Fortune 500 company and hyper-growth startup you can imagine.

Is 3 Pages Too Long For An Executive Resume?

If you’re struggling to get your document down to two pages, take a fine tooth comb to it and ask yourself, “What do they absolutely need to know to be enticed into inviting me for an interview?”

You can likely condense much of your early-career experience, as it’s likely less relevant and impressive than your more recent work history. Oftentimes, prospective employers only need to know the company name, your titles, and your years of employment.

[Read: “How Many Bullet Points Per Job On Resume?” Answered]

Additionally, if you did similar work in earlier positions, you don’t need to go into detail for every role. Instead, focus on the high-level impact and value you delivered to the organization, and save the details for the interview.

Please remember that the goal of your resume is to land an interview. You can expand on your career accomplishments once you’re in the interview room.

Plus, if you share everything on your resume, you’re robbing yourself of the opportunity to divulge additional details and “WOW!” them when you interview.

Final Thoughts On Writing Executive Resumes

Content is paramount when writing an executive resume. That said, you don’t want your most impressive content to get engulfed by too much fluff. You also don’t want to undersell yourself by attempting to squeeze a lengthy career into a single-page document.

If you have any lingering questions about your executive resume, or want an expert in your corner as you craft your story, please don’t hesitate to contact me or schedule a consultation. I’m here for you! You’ve got this!

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

Dr. Kyle Elliott is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His expertise is in Silicon Valley and high-tech. As a result of working with Dr. Elliott, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, Amazon, Google, and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine.

A trusted career expert, Dr. Elliott’s words have been featured on Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, and The New York Times, among dozens of other leading publications. He has been recognized as a Best Career & Interview Coach, Best Resume Writer for Silicon Valley/Tech Managers & Executives, and LinkedIn Top Voice (the platform’s highest honor).

SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION

ADDITIONAL ARTICLES BY DR. KYLE ELLIOTT

Currently Booking New Coaching Clients For July 2024 & Forward — Schedule A Consultation Now

CaffeinatedKyle.com Job Search Launch Guide

Unlock Your FREE Job Search Launch Guide

Looking for a new role? Access my FREE Job Search Launch Guide and learn where to focus your time, energy, and effort so you can find a job you love.

Because the job search can quickly become overwhelming, I've broken this down into an easy-to-follow, 5-step process to help you get started. You've got this!

Thank you for registering! Check your email inbox for your guide from CaffeinatedKyle.com.