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Secure an executive-level job

There is no room for mediocrity at the top, and this starts with your CV. Given that the competition at executive level is so steep, it’s essential that you consider your CV as a representation of your personal brand, rather than just a list of skills and employment history. 

Here, Robert Walters Director Andrew Hanson provides his top tips for executive-level professionals, based on common mistakes he has seen at this level.

Often when I get an executive-level CV across my desk, it doesn’t do the professional’s career and achievements justice. At this level, it is not about listing your experience, but quantifying your results to highlight the value you can bring to an organisation.

Executive-level professionals are measured on completely different criteria, and your CV needs to match this.

Generalists don’t make the grade

The mistake – a standard CV format of just listing your experience.

It may sound like common sense, but I’m often surprised by the fact that key achievements have not been articulated in a concise and thoughtful way. Follow a ‘challenge–actions– results’ framework and quantify your accomplishments in numbers wherever possible.  

Forget the objective statement

The mistake – outlining your career objectives.  

I often see objective statements on executive CVs. At executive level, hiring managers are more concerned about what you will do for them, so don’t waste the prime real estate on your CV. Instead, include a brief overview of yourself and your top three accomplishments that highlight your talent. You generally only have about 10 seconds to their capture attention.

Keep it brief

The mistake – long-winded CVs outlining your entire career.

You would think that the more experience you have, the longer your CV should be, right? Not the case, your CV should only highlight your last 10-15 years’ experience and focus on what you achieved for the business. The trick and challenge is to provide a snapshot of your talent. It’s not about the number of years’ experience or a list of job duties; it’s about selling your success story and highlighting your value.

The Blackberry effect

The mistake – essay style CVs. More and more hiring decision-makers review CVs on their smart phones or similar device.

Produce a document that will capture and hold their attention. It may sound simple, but the way to do this is to use dot points, clear concise statements, easy-to-see results and plenty of white space.

The cover letter

The mistake – not using your cover letter to its full ability.

If you decide to use one, your cover letter should provide additional branding value and articulate the unsurpassed level of experience you bring to the table. Making your CV concise is imperative, so your cover letter gives you the opportunity to provide more context and details around your achievements. 

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