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Writing your Senior Leadership Resume





Throughout January we extended an offer for a free executive resume review to potential candidates, guided by the motto “New Year, New Career”. We are delighted by the overwhelming response and worked hard to provide everyone who participated with feedback. Reviewing so many resumes provided us with insights into the most common pitfalls that may impact potential employers' perceptions. In this blog, I will share these key insights and provide practical tips for refining your senior leadership resume. While not a comprehensive guide to executive resume writing, this overview will help you avoid making the most common mistakes. Please note that these tips are based on our experience, and success in the job market may vary. Here are my tips! 


Put substance over style

Using a clear and functional design for your resume is priority number one. Your goals? Simplicity and professionalism. The aim is to convey trust in your expertise, not showcasing your love for craft and design. Avoid opting for a fancy Canva template; simplicity and professionalism make a much more compelling impression. I repeat: do not turn your resume into a design project. Keep it simple!


Compelling career statements

We have seen many lengthy and overly detailed career summaries come past our desks. Your goal should be to immediately capture the attention of recruiters and potential employers, not to write a novel. So what is a better way of presenting yourself? Focus on crafting three or four compelling career statements that summarise your experience, unique selling points, and the value you bring to the table. This is a powerful introduction that tells the reader that you know what is important and that you value their time. Make sure that your statements are backed up by your actual work experience and results further down in your resume. 


Present your key results upfront

Recruiters spend a lot of time reading resumes and job applications. So make it easy for them to understand that you are the real deal: a senior leader with demonstrated results. Present three of your best and most relevant key results on page one, after your career statements and skills. Make sure they are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound). Tailor your selection to closely align with the role you're applying for, emphasising the direct relevance of your achievements to the position's requirements. By showcasing these key results upfront, you set the tone for a persuasive and evidence-backed executive narrative.


Dot point overload

A common mistake we have seen in most of our candidates' resumes is the abundance of dot points in the employment overview. To streamline your resume effectively, opt for a strategic approach. Start each role in your career history with a brief summary detailing the key responsibilities and objectives. Then, present a curated selection of approximately three or four quantified results. This approach not only enhances readability but also ensures that each point carries significant weight, providing a clear and impactful snapshot of your achievements throughout your career.


Know who you are

As a candidate targeting senior leadership roles, it is important to be consistent in showcasing your senior leadership identity. We have seen several resumes and cover letters that presented a mix of managerial and leadership experience. At this level, your management experience and qualities are inherently implied. The focus now shifts towards aligning your resume with strategic vision and leadership responsibilities. For instance, highlight situations where you successfully led organisational change, drove strategic initiatives or created a culture of innovation. Focus on the big picture. By selecting experiences that underscore your leadership acumen, you present a focused and compelling narrative that resonates with the expectations of senior leadership roles.


In closing, it is important to recognise that even experienced and accomplished senior leaders, executives, and CEOs may feel challenged in articulating their unique skills and value to potential employers. Effectively communicating your professional value proposition requires a level of reflection and confidence that may feel uneasy. In some cases, working with an executive leadership coach can help draw out your strengths and refine the presentation of your achievements.


Furthermore, it's worth noting that the length of a senior leadership resume in Australia may differ from practices overseas. While a resume of two pages is often considered the absolute maximum in many countries, in Australia and New Zealand you can have an extra one or two pages for an executive resume. However, it's crucial to ensure that the additional information carries significant weight and isn't just page filler.


If you are seeking brief feedback on your resume, we are more than happy to assist. For those looking for more substantial support, we can make recommendations for a coach who aligns with your specific challenges and requirements. 


Wishing you every success in your leadership journey ahead!


Email us at info@westgatesearch.com.au if you have questions, comments, or like to share your resume. Follow us on Facebook or LinkedIn for regular leadership insights and job opportunities.













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