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Should I use a template for my resume? Do resume templates work?

Should I use a template for my resume? Do resume templates work?

As an executive resume writer, savvy professionals hire me to help them with their resumes for various reasons.

Some people are short on time, some professionals need support unearthing their achievements and positioning their career stories, and other individuals don’t have a good grasp on Word formatting.

All of these top professionals recognize that writing a resume takes more strategy than just ‘filling-in-the-blanks’.

Yet, some people have a good grasp on their brand and related achievements and using a resume template has been effective in getting them interviews.



As a person who writes executive resumes for a living (from scratch), it may seem odd that I am writing on the topic of resume templates.

Yet, I want to shine a light on one of the most widely searched — and used — career files on the internet. Resume templates brought up 151,000,000 results when I searched for them on Google

Resume templates are everywhere. Not all are created equal.


I hear from job seekers that they aren’t always sure what template would work best for them. Some templates are lovely to look at but hard to use. Is a resume template even work trying?

To start, it’s essential to focus on the file’s content if you decide to use a resume template. Not just the design.

What the resume looks like is secondary to what the resume shares (content).

If you buy or download a resume template and still don’t populate it with strong, related content — it doesn’t matter how pretty, fancy, or colourful the file is — it may never get read.

Let’s explore the pros and cons of resume templates in more detail.


Reasons Resume Templates Can be Helpful


They can save time.

There is nothing worse than stumbling across a posting for your dream job but not having a resume on hand. Downloading a resume template can make it faster to put this critical career file together.


The formatting is done for you.

Good resume templates are formatted for you, so if you are not strong with designing a file in Word – that is easy to read and pleasant to look at – then a template can be a lifesaver. They often have sections already determined, so you don’t forget to add the necessary details.


They can help you look more professional.

Resume templates are typically more eye-catching and professional versus a basic black and white typed Word file. They can help you raise your image and better guide a reader’s eye.


Reasons Resume Templates Don’t Always Work


They may not be ATS-Friendly.

I’ve come across a few resume templates that only download as PDFs or image files once complete or include text boxes, all of which may not allow resume content to be properly parsed in ATS (applicant tracking system). 

If you are uploading your resume to an online posting – you want to ensure your resume is formatted in a way that can be effectively scanned by both the system and the eventual human reader.


The design may be distracting.

Some templates are over the top, really busy or excessively bold. Instead of helping you look more professional, these heavily designed files can have the opposite effect. 

Choose a format that is easy to follow, keeping in mind that if a reader struggles to read it, it may not get read at all.

Fancier isn’t better. Consider the appropriateness of the design for your industry and target audience. 


They don’t account for personal strategy.

You are unique; therefore, your career and offerings are unique as well. Some career histories can not conform to a resume template. You may need a unique and distinct strategy to present you as the best candidate for a role.

For example, career changers may want to highlight earlier or more related history strategically near the start of the file. Students may need to spotlight project work or education differently than an experienced professional.

Some resume templates are rigid and don’t enable people to move content around in a way that works best for them and their careers.



Reasons to Use a Resume Template


You are short on time = you need a resume ASAP.

Templates are quick to download. Simply plug and play.


You don’t have a lot of money to spend on a resume.

Many good templates are very inexpensive.


You have a clear job target in mind. 

An absolute must! General resumes don’t work. 


You have specifics, metrics, and achievements ready to share.

The only way the resume will work is if you have the right content and examples to share in it.


You know your personal brand and how it aligns with the role’s pain points.

It is imperative to understand what you are ‘selling’.


You feel confident in your writing ability.

You can write light and tight – saying a lot in a short amount of space, in a way that resonates with each reader. This includes using the right language and keywords.


You do not have a unique career situation. 

Templates don’t always account for different strategies. 




Reasons to Partner with a Professional Resume Writer


You want to invest in a completely customized career file.

Resume writers work to create unique career files that marry your best content into the best format. 


You have time and funds. 

Most top writers book several weeks out and take several days to write a stand-out executive resume from scratch, which costs top dollar.


You need assistance unearthing related career achievements.

Professional resume writers know what questions to ask to help you identify key metrics and specifics. 


You are not completely clear on your personal brand.

A good writer can identify your career theme in relation to a target job.


You need help powerfully telling your career story.

An experienced resume writer is more than just a typist. They write career stories.


You want to take your resume to the next level.

A strong writer knows how to transform a resume from a basic ‘here’s what I’ve done’ to ‘next-level personal marketing tool that presents you as the clear candidate of choice.’


You have a clear job target in mind!

Again, having a clear job target in mind is an absolute must. General resumes don’t work and top writers don’t write them.


You are not confident in your resume writing skills.

A good resume involves strategy: what content to include and leave off, what keywords to integrate, and what language and terminology to employ. How to write tight, create strong statements, work within space requirements, and utilize design components to guide the reader’s eye.

A resume writer can own the entire process for you, collaborating with you closely to learn who you are, how your skills align to the target role, and building a file that delivers on all levels. 



I’m curious, have you ever used a resume template successfully (gotten an interview)? 

I took this question to LinkedIn and asked it in a poll. Below are the poll results. It was a fairly close race, with 40% of respondents having luck with resume templates and 43% not having any luck.



Comments in the poll ranged just as much as the results:

“I went to Etsy and found a design for 7 bucks. And boom, interview on Wednesday.” – Michael Kurilla

“…there are tons of resume templates on Etsy. A very, very large percentage of them are an absolute usability nightmare, but there are some nice ones!” – Diana Alt

” I have yet to find the perfect template which is also ATS friendly.” – Haneen Ayash

“I’ve been using a template with no success, even for positions for which I am perfectly qualified or overqualified.”  – Josh Talbert

“It’s not the flash on your resume that gets noticed but the value you have on offer and once you workaround that you’ll notice the shift to your job applications.” – Varshaa RT


One of my favourite comments is this one from Bogdan Zlatkov:

I love the above comment because he stresses that a resume template is a good option for resume building, but the file needs great content added to it for it to really work.

If you are interested in reading more responses, check out the post.


Trusted Resume Templates

If you are on the hunt for a trusted template, I strongly recommend the diverse resume templates at Job Search Journey (JSJ).

Top resume writing professionals have put together the resume templates on this site – many with recruiting and hiring backgrounds.

Some of the templates on JSJ come with guides to help you strategize on the content for the provided template design and the resume templates are ATS-friendly, easy to use, and have generated positive feedback from job seekers.

Remember to populate your resume template with good, related content and clear examples of success. Resumes that are generic, general, fluffy, or hard to read = rarely get read.


How Much for Resume Writing?

Many job seekers are not aware of the cost of investing in a professional resume written by a professional resume writer. With the average resume taking 8-12 hours of research and writing time – costs typically run in the high hundreds of dollars into the thousands of dollars. A great resume takes a lot of strategy to create.

Experienced resume writers understand modern resume trends and formats. They also identify why the resume is required, who the target audience is, and they work closely with job seekers to understand their unique offerings, value, and achievements. The writer decides on the best resume strategy and how the resume is prepared.


How Much for Resume Templates?

Resume templates on the other hand are very affordable as these are true DIY, plug-and-play files. Prices for really good resume templates typically run around $10-$25.


Final Resume Templates Tip!

Here’s the thing. If you don’t have a good grasp of the 3 KNOWS, I recommend working through these BEFORE putting ‘pen to paper’, or filling in a resume template.

You need to KNOW yourself, KNOW your audience, and KNOW what matters most to effectively position yourself as the top candidate of choice in a resume. Again, a professional resume writer can help you with these 3 requirements. 

For help with the 3 stages above, check out the workbooks I have for sale in my shop. 

Finally, if you are a manager, director, VP, or C-suite professional who would prefer to partner with a resume expert on the creation of a custom resume – reach out and let’s discuss! 

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Executive Resume Writing Trends for 2022

Resume Writing Trends 2022

As 2022 approaches and as business leaders decide to seek new executive posts, they should focus on crafting the perfect executive resume. Several trends remain strong and several are emerging. If you are getting ready to spruce up your resume, you may want to consider these executive resume writing trends for 2022 in your strategy.


3 Trends that Remain Strong for the Year Ahead


Results-Rich Content

Good content creators know that stories sell, but the stories need to be realistic, relatable, and crucially believable. An executive resume is no different, with content tailored towards career highlights and facts that back up these claims.

The resume reader will be looking for proof that the individual has the right skills and abilities. This calls for specifics and metrics. As Angela Watts puts it: “Employers will always care about past behaviour because it is the best predictor of future behaviour.”

To fill an executive resume with results-rich content, the candidate should brainstorm using the “situation – action – result” approach. Detail the situation faced and the challenge involved before discussing the approach to solving the problem and the action(s) taken. Then champion the result, with figures to back it up. 

For example, a leader may share that company profits were declining. To help, they initiated a deep dive into expenses and implemented efficiency improvement strategies. These efforts generated $10 million in cost savings over 3 years. EBITDA then increased 25%.



Emphasis on Soft Skills

There is no doubt that resume readers are looking for capability and hard achievement, but they are looking for soft skill evidence as well. After all, an executive is people-facing. Well-developed soft skills augment courses, certifications, or experience.

Some people believe that soft skills are only necessary for those who are seeking customer-facing positions. Yet virtually every position at the executive level involves contact with other people and often an ability to motivate and inspire. Executive presence and effective engagement are hard to teach, and consequently, you should include evidence of soft skill capability.

In any leadership race, soft skills need to come to the forefront. These skills can include problem-solving, good communication, and a natural ability to organize and motivate a team.

Sarah Johnston may have said it best: “Jobseekers who use their resume real estate to share examples of employee engagement, DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) and culture improvement initiatives, and retention results will stand out in the stack as being well rounded.”




We’ve already talked about how important it is to include results-rich content in an executive resume. It’s essential to also use a storytelling approach to effectively merge all facts together and paint a clearer picture.

Begin with a compelling headline (and this can also be your elevator pitch for everyday life). It sets the tone and inspires readers to continue reading.

Include a succinct leadership summary before setting out related accomplishments and big business wins. This sets the stage and introduces the story of how you have dealt with and overcome challenges and how you used your hard and soft skill sets to provide value.

Finally, share more about what you stepped into within each role and where you took things, instead of just overviewing basic job tasks.

Always make sure that the details within your story are relevant and relatable. Focus on your accomplishments and be specific, with metrics, measurements, or numbers to back everything up.

Remember, your resume is more than simply words on paper but a story of your career progression. “Combine the storytelling aspect with the results-rich content,” as Jessica Hernandez puts it, “and you have a winning resume.”



3 Trends that Are Emerging as More Important



If results-rich content emphasizing soft skills and storytelling are key fodder for the modern-day resume, testimonials represent the icing on the cake. Testimonials can add credibility and help convince the reader, but only if they are the right fit.

Therefore, testimonials should always be related to relevant work experience and not generalist. These snippets of selected feedback should be clear, to the point, and supportive. If you have claimed your expertise or accomplishments, aim for a testimonial that backs you up. Remember, the more weight that the person delivering it has, the better.

Quality testimonials provide some much-needed social proof and answer any lingering questions your resume reader may have.

In the absence of any independent testimonials, include a link to a personal website with accolades or supporting media. Or, link to your LinkedIn profile if you have collected personal recommendations there. 


Elevated Style

As the content of your executive resume is so important, it makes sense to spend some time on the presentation. You don’t need to go overboard, but you may gain a creative advantage if your documentation truly stands out from the rest. Plus, top professionals need professional-looking files. If your resume is still in the same format from 15+ years ago, it likely looks junior and outdated.

Your executive resume needs to read very well with solid content that hits all the correct targets. It also needs an appropriate design and format to please the eye. Once again, Angela Watts weighs in to share that “requests for colour and graphics continue to increase year over year and are being accepted by more fields and industries.  The current labour pool is comprised of innovative, boundary-pushing professionals who are willing to be creative for a competitive advantage.”

Some people may choose to convert a simple Word file into a PDF and be done with it. Others may decide to use professional design software or to outsource the task to a graphic designer.  Others may partner with a professional resume writer who understands how to marry great content into a great design. Here are some professional resume samples to check out. 

With careful use of colour and design components, your executive resume may find its way to the top of a pile due to its highly polished nature.


Pandemic-Related Content

The pandemic has impacted almost every part of modern-day life. You may need to consider it when crafting an executive resume. Matthew Tooker notes that he’s “not sure its a trend yet, but the need to supply vaccination status will be a major point of discussion”.  Adding your vaccination status to your resume may end up being a purely personal choice, and one to be weighed carefully, but you may want to consider the stance of any company that you engage.

Some organizations may require all employees, including executives, to have received the vaccination. On the other hand, they may not require vaccination but may be publicly supportive of the concept. Or, a role may involve travel where vaccination is important. It could be a good idea to disclose your vaccination status as a potential benefit in these cases.

Although not new, an executive resume writing trend that remains important for 2022: detailing pandemic career wins in your executive resume. Demonstrate how you as a leader faced new business challenges, strengthened or expanded your leadership skills, and/or demonstrated a heightened level of resourcefulness and resiliency. Virginia Franco puts it best: “Whether the company did really well or really struggled — 2020 and 2021 were a boondoggle — and decision-makers want to know about the role you played!”.

A final thought from Hannah Mason about changes stemming from the pandemic. She shares that: “many leaders will need to show how they influence teams that are working remotely as I’ve no doubt this trend will continue well into 2022″.


The Great Resignation and the Modern Job Market

The pandemic has had other impacts, prompting a mass-market movement known as the “great resignation.” More people than ever are looking for a career reboot or job change. Jobs at the top are currently hard to fill due to high demand.

Yet the market is always shifting. A recent article in CBC warns that as roles fill during the current hiring frenzy, the balance of power will shift back to employers. When it does, it may be harder to get noticed without a professional executive resume.

Make sure your resume is ready well before you need it. Be ready so you don’t have to get ready – and use these executive resume writing trends to give yourself every advantage.


Further Discussion

For more conversation on current and emerging executive resume writing trends for 2022 – and additional comments from contributors on this topic –  check out this LinkedIn thread.


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Impressive Executive Resumes Lead With Results

In order to captivate a reader, executive resumes require more than just strong, tailored content. They also need proof. Proof of the communications expertise and business leadership one claims to covet.

Saying you are good at something and providing clear evidence of it are two different things.

In an executive resume one must prove their claims.

Supporting evidence lies within measurable impacts, specific quantities, and strong metrics generated during a career. For greater impact: load your executive resume with relevant results. Even better, lead with them.

Take this example: a friend is telling you about their recent fishing expedition, laying out all the things they did and the actions they took before sublimely mentioning ‘we caught a lot of fish’. Would you be impressed?  Perhaps. Yet exact measurements are missing and you may have tuned out long before the results were mentioned.

Now, let’s say this same person started the story with ‘12 fish were caught in the first hour of our fishing weekend!’. Would that get your attention faster?  Likely.  That’s because the results are clear and presented early.

When I work with executives to position their value ‘on paper’ the primary goal is to ensure content speaks to the reader, fast. Leading with results and front-loading points throughout the file generates a strong impression, builds excitement, and connects the dots.

To ensure the inclusion of measurable and scaled details in your resume, strive to answer: how many? how much? and how often?

Directed teams? List the size: Teams of 450.

Managed budgets? Quantify the largest amount: Budgets of $45M

Drive revenue growth? Show the value over time: $40M revenue expansion in 2 Years  

Now store these results away for high-impact positioning in your resume.

Leading with results spoon feeds the reader what they want, first.  You answer questions before they can be asked and you align proof points with position requirements.  Results also drive energy and action into the file!

Leaders appreciate the value of numbers and measurable business impacts, so don’t make them hunt for them in a resume. Commence the file with a strong header and supporting value statement, not a generic list of keywords or blanket phrases. For example, a general opening might say:

Executive Leader:  Revenue Generator | Team Builder | New Business Developer

Yet there is no scale and no measurements in the above statement to hook and engage. An improved resume header would include size, scale, and metrics. Something more like:

President and CEO:  Global $45M Facilities Management | Teams to 450 | 300% Revenue Growth in 4 Years.

The key is to keep this same approach up throughout the resume, with all statements, including bullet points. Front-load points to powerfully position strengths and build the readers’ appreciation of capabilities.Standard bullet statements may include impressive figures and important metrics but if key details appear near the end of content the impact becomes less wow and more oh-by-the-way.

End-loaded statements:

  • Developed differentiated product line which decreased service time for end users and added $36M in new profit over 3 years.
  • Shifted vendor relationship management to internal support group, producing $10M in annual cost-savings.
  • Employed longer sales cycles to close accounts in historically challenging European territory to grow new business revenue 156% over 2 years.

Front-loaded statements:

  • Added $36M in new profit over 3 years by developing differentiated product line which decreased service time for end users.
  • Produced $10M in annual cost-savings by shifting vendor relationship management to internal support group.
  • Grew new business revenue 156% over 2 years in European market, employing longer sales cycles to close accounts in historically challenging territory.

The difference is discernible. There is no hunting for impacts in front-load statements and key points don’t run the risk of getting buried or overlooked.  What matters most appears first.As an executive, you want the reader to get invested in you and your abilities.

To hook and engage, lay out content in a clear path, baiting with impacts that are hard to overlook or pass by.  Lead with results.


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How to Add Achievements and Measurements Into Your Executive Resume

If I had a dollar for every job seeker who has told me, “I don’t have anything special to add to my resume. I don’t have any results to share.” – well! Every single one of these individuals was wrong.

Everyone has plenty to share – it’s just a matter of identifying the right content.

A modern resume needs to be loaded with value, answering every employer’s primary question of “why should I hire you over someone else?”. This means resume content must be focused on specifics and results, not basic job duties.

You have to provide proof of the skills and capabilities you claim to possess. 

Regardless of role, industry, or career length, you have value, and you’ve excelled at something. So how do you unearth strong content for your resume?


To start, one must know thyself.

This may sound implied, but it often isn’t. A good many of my clients know their work and their jobs really well, but they lack awareness of personal skill sets and unique strengths. Deep analysis and careful pondering are required to identify what sets one apart.

Questions I often use to prompt my clients on personal strengths include:

  • What distinguishes you from another applicant with the same experience?
  • What are five characteristics that best describe you when you are at work?
  • What is the biggest return on investment that an employer will get from you?
  • What have you consistently achieved during your career? What are you best known for?

These questions can help you identify the message you want to get across in your resume. A value proposition (who you are and what you are excellent at) should be formed and then supported throughout the file.


Next, conduct a deep dive into past positions to identify examples that support your value.

Carefully consider career exploration questions like the following:

  • What initiatives have you developed and implemented that helped your company increase revenue, profitability, or return on investment?
  • Did you generate new business, bring in new clients, or forge profitable affiliations?
  • Did you save your company money or increase your company’s competitive edge?
  • Have you increased safety, performance levels, productivity, or customer satisfaction?
  • What was the largest team, budget, or project value you managed?

From these questions, essentials form and strong statements take shape. To pump up the value even more, I urge the inclusion of supporting metrics. Can you address “how many, how much, how often”?


I understand that not all results are numbers based. Some job seekers feel frustrated because they can’t measure results with hard figures, percentages, or dollar amounts. This is ok.

Consider ways that your work was valuable and share results in a generalized way. Perhaps  outcomes were ‘improvements’, ‘increases’, ‘best’, ‘time-savings’, or ‘top’.

For less number-focused results, consider these additional exploration questions:

  • How do you coach, motivate and develop a winning team and develop loyalty in your staff? Have people you mentored gone on to do well?
  • How would you describe your leadership style? What was the greatest achievement of a team that you directed?
  • Have you won awards or received special recognition by superiors, peers, or customers?
  • Did you get promoted in record time?
  • Have you assumed additional responsibilities or willingly assumed tasks outside your job description?
  • Have you worked internationally, across multiple industries, or within highly recognizable organizations (Fortune 500)?
  • Did you complete specialized training or education?
  • Did you complete projects on time and within budget? How consistently?


Now, form value-enhanced statements from your answers.

Make sure each statement in your resume demonstrates specifics, even if there are no numbers or hard results attached to it. You might be surprised that you can measure results more than originally thought, and if you can’t – make a note to start capturing these quantitative details on a more regular basis for future resume development.

To demonstrate the difference between basic statements and value-enhanced statements (often with quantifiable details) compare the following:

The valued-enhanced statements above leave fewer questions unanswered and provide greater impact. These same statements can be further enhanced with the addition of a bit of unique context (the how and why). Just aim to keep all resume statements as succinct as possible.

Lastly, ensure resume content (and results) focus exclusively on details and skills that relate to the targeted job posting. For example, if you are targeting a sales job, but have loads of experience and achievements as a mechanic, don’t fill the resume with trade-specific content.

Be strategic with what you include in your resume; only your best and most related examples need to be shared in each application.


Looking for more examples of high impact resume statements? I helped the team at Job Search Secret Weapon put together a guide with over 35 examples. Check it out! 

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Words and Phrases to Avoid on Your Executive Resume

To ensure that your executive resume resonates in the best possible way with readers it must include strong content and the right language.

There is no place for junior-level details, generic phrases, or high-in-the-sky umbrella terms in this leadership doc.Get specific and focused, raising the value of your resume by eliminating the following:


Phrase to avoid: “Responsible for….”

WHY: Everyone is responsible for something in their work. Not only does this tired phrase do nothing to set a person apart from competitors, it does not demonstrate unique value. In addition, no hiring authority is interested in reading a laundry list of everyday work tasks in an executive resume.

INSTEAD: Shift focus away from task-heavy details and snooze-inducing ‘responsible for’ statements to more results-focused, high impact statements that scream “Look at what I’ve achieved! Here’s what can also be achieved for you!”. Clearly sell the ROI employers are sure to achieve by bringing you on board.


Phrase to avoid: “References available upon request”

WHY: This is a given. Assumed. Old-fashioned.

INSTEAD: Make better use of prime resume real estate to share value-enhanced content that supports candidacy.


Phrases to avoid: clichéd superlative statements like “innovative and goal-oriented team player” or “excellent communicator” 

WHY: While these phrases may sound important, anyone can actually claim them. Resume readers need more concrete facts and figures to measure true level of leadership.

INSTEAD: Share specific results from the application of select skills. Something like: “Delivered 12% sales increase by initiating increased daily communications with top 10 biggest customers across the territory”.  This hard-hitting statement implies select abilities, is attention grabbing, and provides proof of result.


Phrase/words to avoid: vague claims to success like: “Results generator” or “turnaround strategist”.

WHY: While these claims may be true, supporting evidence is required. Again, proof of results and context of skill application are required for a resume reader to take content seriously.

INSTEAD: Help the reader measure ability by flipping vague claims to fame into value-enhanced statements, like: “Generated 17% YOY revenue growth for 3 straight years after initiating new operational improvement process”.


Word to avoid: “Objective”.

WHY: This old-fashioned introduction is unlikely to support your cause because chances of hitting the mark is slim. Although a resume may be all about you, it isn’t *meant* for you.

INSTEAD: Skip the objective and commence the resume with a strong headline or metrics-driven summary that includes examples of success. Employers are not interested in personal objectives – they want to know what each you are going to do for them and their business.


Word to avoid: misused /overused terms like “Rockstar”.

WHY: Unless a person is an actual rock and roll star this word is over the top. It’s also extremely overused and adds no real context or value to resume content.

INSTEAD: Only if the employer specifically requests a “rockstar” in the job posting should this word be considered. Otherwise, use more appropriate leadership words to describe ability. The job posting is a good place to start if you are hunting for appropriate language.


Word to avoid: “Seasoned”.

WHY: This word can make you sound delicious (like a food) and/or aged. Neither are the goal of a resume.

INSTEAD: Avoid generalizing ability, expertise, or years of experience and just spell it out. Consider: “15 years of experience leading international teams of 200+” and not: “Seasoned team leader”.

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How Long Should My Executive Resume Be?

Ideal resume length. Career Impressions. _ (002)

As a professional resume writer, one of the questions clients ask me most often is, “How long should my executive resume be?”

My answer is that ideal resume length is often up for debate. I suggest you aim for quality over quantity. At an executive level, it is challenging to fit all accomplishments on just one page. Stick to 2-3 pages, targeting every detail to the specific job you are applying for.

Sticking to one page is a resume myth that is not feasible at an executive level. While you do not want to detail every task and accomplishment, you’ll need more space to highlight your level of experience and value correctly. Do not sell yourself short by sticking to one page!

Your resume is a marketing document; it should highlight your value proposition and develop your brand, to position you as the perfect fit for the role.

How to Choose Your Ideal Resume Length  

Always keep your audience in mind

Look at every point in the mindset of a potential employer and ask, “What’s in it for me?”. Only include information relevant to the specific job. What are the essential points and critical skills that this potential employer is seeking?


Cut unnecessary information

Lose weak or stand-alone soft skills like team-player, organized, and responsible. Instead, show, rather than tell, with specific details and metrics.

If a point in your resume is not relevant to the target job, update it or replace it.


Be succinct. Write tight

Say what you need to say in as few words as possible. Use strong language and action words that have an impact. Eliminate extra filler words like “the or a”.

Avoid rambling in long-winded, dense paragraphs.


Start strong

Leave out the objective statement that lets readers know you are looking for a challenging position. Instead, grab attention with a knock-out executive summary that pique’s your reader’s interest.

Display your value proposition and personal brand as they align to the target role. If the gets engaged in your writing (they can clearly see the value you would add), they will be more likely to continue down the page and read more!


Write visually

Make sure key content pops off the page. Don’t make readers hunt to identify your best or most notable impacts. Bold select words, use shading, or include design components (boxes or charts) to help showcase your best details.

Leave white space, use clean fonts, and ensure the format is easy to read and scan. If someone has to work really hard to read your resume, they may not read it at all.

You want your resume to be easy to skim and scan because the average recruiter spends 6 seconds on the first read. Make sure you pass the skim test!


 Focus on results

Executive resumes need metrics and numbers as proof of the claims you are making. Give specific results so potential employers can envision you achieving the same wins for them.

Aim to answer how many, how much, and how often in your content.


Questions to Ask When Cutting Info from Your Resume

  1. Are these details relevant to this position?
  2. Is this a current qualification?
  3. Does this piece of info show rather than tell?
  4. Am I stating the obvious? (If you went to college, you graduated from high school).
  5. Am I using unnecessary words or fluff?
  6. Have I made this point more than once?
  7. Is this personal info (hobbies, volunteer work, board memberships) relevant?
  8. Have I added any sections or info just because I felt I should?
  9. Are these skills everyone has listed – detail-oriented, task-focused, progressive leader?
  10. If I was hiring for this position, would this piece of info influence my decision?


Everyone has their own opinion on ideal resume length. But one thing all resume experts seem to agree on is that content is the driving factor.

Potential employers will read a resume as long as the information is engaging and relevant to the position they are seeking to fill (within reason of course).

When crafting your executive resume, keep the question in your mind, “Does this add to the value I will bring to this specific company within this particular role?

For more information on resume length, check on the following posts:

Ask Adrienne: What is an Average Resume Length?

What Resume Length is Best?



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Storytelling in Executive Resumes: How to Stand Out and Capture Attention

Storytelling in Executive Resume Career Impressions_ (002)

Your resume should tell a compelling story – one that positions you as the perfect fit for a role. Using all the elements of a great narrative captures attention, engages the reader, and paints a clear picture in their mind. Storytelling in your executive resume can set you apart.

Think of your resume as a marketing document – “Facts tell. Stories sell.” Storytelling is one tool that can help you craft a stand-out executive resume.


How to Use Storytelling in Executive Resumes

  1. Create a compelling headline

Leading with a compelling headline helps capture your reader’s attention and sets the tone for the resume. Potential employers spend less than 11 seconds on the first scan, so you must be compelling from the start!

Craft a brand statement that defines who you are as a professional and what potential employers can expect from you in the workplace. What is your one thing – what can you achieve for the business?

i.e., As a __________, I help ______ businesses, ________ and ________ so they can _____________.

Translate your answer into a succinct statement that sits under/near the title of your resume, something like the following examples:








  1. Include a relevant leadership summary

Lead with a short career summary that engages the reader and shows an obvious benefit to them.

Rather than starting with the type of role you are looking for, or years of experience you bring to the table (this isn’t your greatest selling point!) focus on what you have to offer the reader. What’s the overarching theme of your career? What results have you achieved? What value do you deliver? Who are you, and how did you land in the role you’re in today? What are you known for? What areas have you had consistent success in? How do you describe yourself?



  1. Sell your accomplishments

Focus on how you grew within each company, how you approached and overcame challenges, and how your unique personality traits (combined with experience, education, and skillsets) lead to success for the organization.

Consider leading with your results when telling your accomplishment stories to grab attention. (Results/action/problem/situation). Don’t bury your best facts in dense content or long-winded statements. Start with your impacts!

Show the reader the unique situations you have faced, how you navigated challenges, and how it ultimately made you a more qualified candidate for this role.


Examples of front-loaded bullet success statements:



Elements of a narrative story

Storytelling 101 – answer the who, what, when, where, how, and why. When using storytelling in an executive resume, try a formula like this for describing your accomplishments:

  • Characters
  • Setting
  • Conflict
  • Resolution
  • Lesson/accomplishment

Use the above to build succinct success statements that layout challenges, actions, and results.



Tips to Use Storytelling in Executive Resumes

Keep your format in mind

If chronological order doesn’t feel suitable for your resume, don’t be afraid to try a different format that highlights your story in a better light.

A combination format is most popular as it allows a blend of content where you can spotlight top/best points near the start of the file (think: achievements section) before diving into specific work experiences.


Choose your stories wisely

Be conscious of what stories you share in your executive resume. Make sure details are relatable. You’ve likely achieved many great things in your leadership career, but not every detail matters. Strategically select examples that resonate best with the target role requirements.


Use action words and be concise

Start statements in your executive resume with clear and varying action words to keep content interesting and engaging.

Also, telling a story doesn’t mean long-winded narratives. Provide just enough context and examples to help the reader identify value.

Carefully delete any ‘fluff’ and keep content rich, yet succinct. After every point, ask yourself, “Does this statement contribute to the overall theme of my resume?”. If not, remove or improve.


Focus on accomplishments

Give fewer details on your day-to-day responsibilities – the reader likely knows what each role entails. No need for a play-by-play of leadership tasks.

Instead, use resume real estate to showcase examples that provide the proof. Detail how well you did at things and what you managed to achieve for your business or organization.


Give specific metrics

Whenever possible, show rather than tell by giving exact numbers or results. Work to answer “How many? How much? How often?” throughout your file.

Remember, the reader doesn’t know what you don’t tell them. Share exact team sizes, budget oversights, sales or revenue increases, timelines, and/or cost reductions. Numbers add significant value to resume details.



Storytelling in executive resumes can help you stand out and capture the attention of employers. A narrative format allows you to display not only what you did but why it mattered. Showing specific accomplishments and how they tie into the big picture helps potential employers envision you getting the same results for them.


For more tips on crafting an executive resume that gets you noticed, check out Executive Resume Trends for 2021.