Strategies for a C-suite resume

Recently I seem to have been working with more "C" level clients than usual - CEO, COO, CIO, CTO, and so on. Although the photo shows a male professional, these recent clients have been of the female persuasion - patterns seem to take turns appearing in my line of work! (For the record, I love working with entry level clients, trades, teachers, those in manufacturing, industry, retail - helping a variety of Canadians makes my work rewarding.)

A recent client, for example, had had her resume professionally written four years ago. Things change so quickly these days that I cannot even recall what specific standards were like four years ago! But if this resume was "state of the art," standards have changed.

My inclination is to say that her resume didn't meet C-suite standards even then. Its appearance is kind of plain, super-plain, and rather than a reverse chronological format, it is a functional format. There is no attempt to "brand" this candidate, nor is the profile written in a fluid, compelling manner. The sentences don't evolve; they are jarring. The message doesn't flow; it hiccups along.

Even so, some of the content is excellent as it incorporates quantified results, such as increasing revenues by 200% over a 4-year time span, pulling a key client's satisfaction rating from a dismal 17th place to an amazing 2nd place, and so on.The client is effective at her work!

I love this type of challenge - how do I take a fairly decent resume and transform it to a document worthy of an accomplished executive? A portfolio-level presentation?

I start with the layout and format. The overly small name is now proudly front and centre, with three credential acronyms added, immediately conveying the candidate's qualifications, proactively addressing the recruiter's next question.

Her profile has been given a title and the title supported with a branding statement, which communicates how she excels in driving growth, efficiency, and profitability (it's almost always about "the money"; after all, it's business!). The short, 4-line profile succinctly states years of experience, and budget, headcount environment, and accountability details.

Page one, in fact, is entirely devoted to branding this client with sections that are titled Snapshot of Results, C-Suite Proficiencies, and Testimonials. Her experience begins on page two, and yes, it's a three page resume, quite acceptable for this level of applicant.

(FYI: Some of the resume "rules" we read about on the internet do not apply to Canadian job hunters! Our recruiters do not have pervasive, strong opinions on one or two page resumes, nor do they exclude the unemployed from interviews, to their credit.)

I can't wait to share this resume with the client (it's not yet edited twice, which is my norm). I am absolutely certain that this resume will gain attention from the best employers, land more interviews, AND, lead to better offers and/or negotiation power. No doubt at all. I know this because I've seen it happen over and over with previous clients.

Even if you're not a C-Suite, and if, like me, you have no aspiration to join that group, your resume will still benefit from the same level of attention - crisp layout, appropriate format, strong content, and maybe even an atypical section that helps to differentiate you. The only resume rules, as I've written previously, are truth and authenticity.