What’s the Best Executive Resume Format and Length?

by Meg Guiseppi on October 24, 2016



When I speak with executive job seekers, one of the first things they often ask me is how their resume stacks up.

Many of them have never been in a job search or haven’t faced one for a number of years.

They’ve either slid easily from one company to the next, without ever having to look, or have progressed up the ladder within one or more good companies.

Often these lucky job seekers haven’t needed a resume, and have missed the boat on the new resume strategies.

They’re woefully out-of-date on how their resume should look and read.

They also often don’t understand best practices for executive job search, and that networking is the best way to land a best-fit new gig.

You’ll note that I don’t discuss job boards here. For executives, especially at the c-suite and top levels, this method yields dismal results and takes up too much time that would be better spent in networking.

First, you’ll need 3 versions of your executive resume for various purposes:

1. A nicely formatted, visually appealing Word 2003 version (or second most recent version of Word).

2. A PDF version so that formatting of the above will set up exactly as you meant it to.

3. A stripped down, barely formatted text or ATS-friendly version to make it through an Applicant Tracking System. This can be created as a Word document.

For specifics on building the content for your executive resume, read my post, How to Build Personal Brand Content for Executive Job Search.

Which executive resume format(s) to send to which people

Your executive job search campaign will include networking and communicating with:

  • Executive recruiters
  • Hiring professionals (or Human Resources) at your target companies
  • People who work at your target companies
  • Your existing network

With recruiters and other hiring professionals, your first communication will probably include your resume, with a brief email expressing your interest. Send these people all three resume versions. You may not know whether they will review your resume on their desktop/laptop or mobile device, and whether they may pass it on to an Applicant Tracking System, so play it safe and cover all the bases.

Tap employees at various professional levels at your target companies and others in your network for informational interviews, to help you with company research and market intelligence.

Your initial short emails to this second group of people are just “feelers”. You’re not presenting yourself as a candidate yet, because you don’t know at this time where and how you might fit into those companies, so don’t include your resume. Once you get their feedback and determine the situation, customize your resume to position yourself as a good fit, and send a more detailed email with your targeted, nicely formatted Word resume.

Ultimately, your networking efforts should focus on penetrating the “hidden” job market. That is, coveted jobs that are never advertised anywhere.

What about executive resume length?

Don’t get bogged down by confusing dictates you may have read about resume length, like “your resume must never be more than 2 pages”.

Focus instead on detailing what makes you a good fit for your target employers, based on the research you’ve done to determine their current pressing needs, and how you’re uniquely qualified to help them problem-solve.

A three page resume is fine, especially for c-suite and senior-level executives . . . if you’ve ruthlessly edited down to the essentials, and included only the things that will matter to your target companies. Include a link to your LinkedIn profile – which should include the whole story – and direct people to find more details there.

That advice applies to most situations, except for these two (and perhaps others):

1. Executive recruiters have been known to ask for a lengthy resume (sometimes 4 or more pages) including ALL your career history in depth. Provide them whatever they require. They know what their client companies want to know about you.

2. An ATS-friendly resume has no length restrictions. In fact, longer is probably better. More content means it will contain more of the relevant keywords the ATS will be looking for.

More About Executive Resumes and Successful Job Search

Is Your Executive Resume an Interesting Read?

ATS and the Executive Resume Black Hole – What You May Not Know

Are You Executive Job Search-Ready?

Is Your Executive Resume Still Partying Like It’s 1999?

C-level Executive Resume Length: One, Two, or Three Pages?

Think Like an Executive Resume Branding Pro – 10 Resume Do’s and Don’ts

7 Deadly Sins of Executive Resume Writing


LinkedIn FAQs for Executive Job Search

by Meg Guiseppi on October 17, 2016


As noted in the first in my series of Executive Job Search FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) which focuses on personal branding, I’ve compiled several of the questions/topics that most often come up with my clients.

Beyond personal branding and this post on LinkedIn FAQs, I’ll be writing posts on the FAQs that represent the major road blocks and/or job search strategies they have told me they need help understanding, across these topics:

  • Executive resumes
  • Online reputation management and online presence
  • Executive job search in general

Here are 5 LinkedIn FAQs for Executive Job Search

1. Is LinkedIn really as important as I keep hearing?

LinkedIn is undeniably the executive job-seeker’s most important and powerful tool for online personal branding, networking and career management.

In fact, NOT having a robust LinkedIn profile can actually be detrimental to your job search. Along with being invisible to the very people you need to be positioned in front of, you’re representing yourself as out of date with the digital age and the new world of work.

Whether or not you want to accept it, you’re being Googled and evaluated by what people find on the first page of search results for “your name”. Decisions are being made about you BEFORE you ever reach out to them and send your resume.

In Google search, your LinkedIn profile – if you have one, and it’s fully complete – will likely show up within the first 3 search results. That’s powerful stuff! Make sure your LinkedIn profile hits all the marks.

Why is LinkedIn SO Important?

  • Your branded LinkedIn profile helps position your promise of value (or personal brand) to your target employers, advance your thought leadership, and expand your brand community.
  • Recruiters have embraced LinkedIn as their #1 tool for referrals, candidate research and sourcing, and for publishing job openings. That makes LinkedIn one of the best places to be found online by recruiters and hiring decision makers at your target companies.
  • LinkedIn constantly adds new features and tools to help you advance your job search and career.
  • Networking is the best way to land your next great gig. LinkedIn offers the best social networking experience.
  • Your LinkedIn profile provides critical “social proof” corroborating the claims you’ve made about yourself verbally and in your other career materials (resume, biography, cover letter, other online profiles and web pages).

2. What is the best way to use LinkedIn for job search?

LinkedIn works for you passively – as a personal SEO (Search Engine Optimization) magnet, drawing people to your profile – AND proactively, when you gear up for job search and leverage all the networking and search features it offers.

Here are some of the many things you can, and should, do on LinkedIn when you’re job-hunting:

  • Build out your LinkedIn profile with keyword-rich content that brands and differentiates the unique value you offer.
  • Use the Summary section to generate chemistry by highlighting your personality, leadership style, and good-fit qualities for your target employers.
  • Expand and engage your LinkedIn network.
  • Use LinkedIn for research, and competitive and market intelligence.
  • Keep your personal brand top-of-mind with people who can help you reach your career goals.

More in my post, Essential Checklist to Optimize LinkedIn For Executive Job Search.

3. Does it matter how many people I’m connected to, and who should I connect with – everyone who asks?

I believe in accepting most invitations to connect, but I always check their profiles first, to be sure they are real people and not spammers, scammers or someone trying to sell me something.

Think of it this way. The more people you’re connected with, the wider your network, and the more likely good-fit opportunities will come your way.

And, once you reach the 500+ connections mark, your profile ranks higher in search results . . . as long as your profile meets LinkedIn’s completeness criteria.

4. Do I really need a photo on my profile?

Although some people on LinkedIn fear discrimination based on age, appearance, ethnic background, etc. if they include their photos, I still advise that it’s best to have one. There’s no doubt that discrimination exists in job search, so you’ll need to decide for yourself, but there are risks involved with NOT having a photo.

Most executive recruiters and hiring decision makers at the companies you’re targeting will see your LinkedIn profile before they see anything else about you. Put yourself in the shoes of these people assessing your candidacy through your LinkedIn profile.

The first thing they’ll notice when they land on your profile is your photo . . . or lack of one. If you have NO photo, their initial thought will likely be “What is this person trying to hide?

More in my post, Deadly LinkedIn Mistake: No Professional Photo.

5. I have to keep my job search undercover. How do I do that on LinkedIn?

Something like 90% of my c-suite and senior-level executive clients are employed, but looking to move on for various reasons. So they need to keep their job search under wraps.

But, they’ll probably need to add to, or change, the content in their LinkedIn profile to position themselves as good-fit candidates for their target employers. And they’ll need to ramp up their activity on LinkedIn.

Accomplishing this, while staying undercover, doesn’t pose a major challenge, but it does require a stealth strategy, and an understanding of how LinkedIn works.

Here are 5 strategies to keep your job search confidential on LinkedIn:

1. Turn off notifications to your network.
2. Safely view other LinkedIn profiles without them knowing.
3. Add or change profile content slowly.
4. Be careful with LinkedIn Groups
5. Choose who can see your connections.

More specifics in my post, 5 Ways to Keep Your Executive Job Search Confidential on LinkedIn.

More About LinkedIn and Executive Job Search

Essential Checklist to Optimize LinkedIn For Executive Job Search

5 Deadly LinkedIn Mistakes

Get the Most Out of LinkedIn

How to Write a Dazzling LinkedIn Summary

5 Ways to Keep Your Executive Job Search Confidential on LinkedIn

5 Surprising Things LinkedIn Says You Can’t Do