Quest Groups Blog Image

Stand out From the Pack: 8 Strategies for Writing an Executive Resume

The most impactful executive resumes have this in common: They answer the employer’s question “What’s in it for me?”

Your resume may be read by high-level recruiters, C-suite executives or board members. They’ll want to know how hiring you will help them solve their business problems. Use these strategies to design or rework your resume and clearly answer this question:


Lay the groundwork with personal branding.

Personal branding is not optional. The work you do defining your brand forms the foundation for all your job search marketing materials, both on and off line.

  • Branding will help you develop messages that will resonate with target audiences.
  • It will energize you by defining what differentiates your value proposition from that of your competitors.
  • It will prepare you to speak confidently about your qualifications.
  • It will provide information to repurpose for each of your online profiles and any web pages you create.

Begin your resume with a powerful summary.

Open your resume with a strong summary versus an objective statement that describes your desires and career goals. It should clearly state how you add value to a potential employer and alleviate their pain points.

  • Demonstrate a clear fit between your expertise and their needs.


A generic resume that tries to cover too many bases will fall flat. Be sure yours delivers a specific, succinct message that zeroes in on the position and the company.

  • Prove your value by emphasizing aspects of your past experience that match the employer’s needs. Minimize or eliminate those that do not.
  • Keep your message consistent. Give concrete examples of success in specialized areas; for instance, your ability to open business in new markets. Remove any information that does not solidly support your case.

Show bottom-line value.

Too many resumes focus on job responsibilities instead of describing revenue-enhancing achievements. The latter are much more effective because they show your ability to make a real difference.

  • Use numbers. Do not say you “increased sales” without telling a prospective employer how much. Provide percentages or say “approximately” if certain information is proprietary.

Provide context.

The reader of your resume needs context in order to truly appreciate your value. It is better to say you “reversed a four-year sales decline and increased sales by 12 percent in one year” than simply state you “increased sales by 12 percent.”

  • Give the reader an understanding of the challenges you overcame. They can then better appreciate your achievements.

Use the C-A-R approach.

Follow a Challenge-Action-Results (C-A-R) framework to describe your contributions to past employers.

  • Storytelling propels your branding. Choose four or five standout successes you have achieved in recent years. Outline the challenges that faced your company and the actions you took in response. Then describe the positive short- and long-term results. Monetize and use hard facts as you detail the outcomes.
  • Show people how you leveraged your strengths to make things happen. This makes it easier for an employer to visualize you in action.

Avoid “resume speak.”

Write your resume using your own voice. Find the precise words that describe your uniqueness. Keep the content interesting. Do not fall back on dull, overused buzzwords like “results oriented” or “proven track record.”

  • Use active verbs that show your vitality and explain your niche expertise. A few strong examples are “envisioned,” “incentivized” and “leveraged.”
  • Keywords are well named. Study the job description and use them high up in your resume content.

Pay attention to design.

Your resume design should be clean and user friendly. It should draw the reader’s eye immediately to key information.

  • Use boldface type to focus on key information such as top brands you have marketed. Place these in prominent locations in your summary.
  • Be spare with your bolding. Your format should emphasize and reinforce your focus and not deter the reviewer from it.

You can count on the senior consultants at BrainWorks for superior market insight and exceptional support in developing your resume and orchestrating your successful executive job search. We pride ourselves on developing long-term business relationships to help enhance your career. Contact us today to get started.

Back to Advancing Through the Hiring Process