How to create an executive level CV

Published on: 18 Dec 2014

Job hunters are well practised in the habit of including their CV with applications for vacancies. The CV should be an ever-changing document, however, and while it still has a place in the world of executive level job appointments what is included in it needs to be tailored accordingly.

While some candidates might be approached and selected without the need for an application process, the majority of executive positions will be advertised and will attract a strong response; individuals with experience and talent. Therefore, a CV has to be bold enough to stand out amongst the elite crowd. Here, then, are some elements to bear in mind when creating an executive level CV.

Make the CV relevant and targeted. Keeping the same document fired up and ready to blast out at a moment's notice without any thought to the employer you are approaching is vague and sloppy. Never forget that you are pitching yourself at positions which come with salaries of £100,000 and more, and those at the recruiting end expect focus and clear evidence of preparation.

So, instead of a general statement as the introduction to the CV, include details on how you would benefit your potential new employer: what would you do for them, specifically? You cannot be vague about this and talk in generic terms. This requires you to demonstrate in-depth knowledge about the company to which you are applying (working on the outside there's a limit to how much information you have access to, of course).

The size and profile of the company you will typically be applying to means that a lot of information about it will be in the public domain. You should evaluate performance and make observations about how, should you be offered and accepted the advertised role, you would take the business forward. For example, if you were applying to become Commercial Director, what campaigns have you witnessed in the last 12-18 months? Were they successful, well received? What creative agency or agencies were recruited? What might you have done differently? You could even present two different future campaigns for the business, based on varying budgets. It's a lot of work but it will be worth it if you land one of the biggest jobs within your reach.

To really maximise the impact here, ensure your skills tally with the requirements the employer is looking for, which of course you can identify either from the detailed job description you have received or by the extensive research you have conducted about the hiring company. Ideally, from both.

Follow this up with examples of your own career high points, making them relevant to the executive position you aspire to. Include a career success story, a short summary of something you have achieved recently which adds some colour and narrative to your application. You may have been responsible for re-negotiating contracts with a range of suppliers and saving your current company a significant amount of money, you might have led an international launch of a brand and managed each step of the project, from conception to completion. Returning to the marketing theme, if you have managed a particularly successful campaign in the recent, recount that process and demonstrate your proficiency.

It is still relevant to include previous experience to demonstrate your suitability for the position but avoid simply listing, in chronological order, all your previous roles. Prioritise the current: if you are 40 years old and have been working since graduating from University, including almost two decades' worth of jobs is fruitless and not valid.

Finally, a strong online footprint is essential. The CV is a formal document provided on request but make no mistake, that is not the only way of promoting yourself and not the only method a potential employer has of assessing your suitability. Hiring companies are increasingly likely to source and candidates through LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media websites so make sure your accounts are exemplary in terms of content, tone of voice and presentation. It goes without saying that your professionalism should extend to these accounts.

At this stage of your career and life, and in order to genuinely be in contention for high-calibre, executive roles in business of national and international repute, your personal brand should be powerful. As such, your LinkedIn account needs to offer more than a condensed version of a CV: it should have strong and credible testimonials from professional partners and clients and ideally, further reading provided by you. This might be articles and content you have created, discussing issues relevant to your industry. You must be seen as an authoritative voice in your niche, a thought leader.

In implementing this advice you should create not only a very influential CV but also an impressive all round portfolio promoting the very best of your capabilities.