Top 10 Executive - Senior Management CV Mistakes

Below are the top ten mistakes I keep encountering during our free CV review process for Senior Executives.

  1. No clear title  
    A strong executive CV starts with a concise headline describing what you do (e.g.Marketing Director, Sales Director, Operations Manager etc.). Without this, recruiters have no idea what roles you might be a fit for, and your CV will often be overlooked.
  2. Hard-to-read summary section  
    It’s common for executive candidates to feel that big words and long sentences are necessary to convey seniority and gravitas. In fact, they just put a barrier between you and the reader. Instead, use simple clear language and short punchy sentences.
  3. Profiles that try to say too much  
    As a successful executive, you have many skills and many selling points. But if you try to include them all at the start of your CV, you will wind up with a long, hard-to-read summary that recruiters skip altogether. Instead, decide on your 2-3 key selling points and make those the centerpiece of your CV. 
  4. Missing keywords
    Many CVs are scanned by computers prior to a human ever seeing them. This is especially true of executive recruiters who maintain large databases of candidates, and then scan those databases for keywords when a new opportunity arises. To be found, your CV must contain all the important words and phrases used in your profession or industry.
  5. Too much detail
    You might think that you need to include a lot of detail in order to show the level of your experience and to convey your executive responsibilities, but almost all executive CVs can be edited down without losing any power and impact. 
  6. Too much focus on job descriptions
    Many executives spend far too much time describing their responsibilities and not enough time talking about what they achieved in the role. As a rough guide, I recommend using 3-4 times as much space for your accomplishments as you use to describe your job responsibilities.
  7. Not being specific about accomplishments
    Don’t just say that you turned the business around – give the context (how bad were things before?) and the improvement. Use either numbers or percentages (choose whichever sounds most impressive) to emphasize the impact you made. 
  8. Not including a LinkedIn profile URL 
    In this day and age, a LinkedIn profile URL is vital. It shows recruiters that you are on the ball and well-connected, and – when done well – your profile provides them with more information about you and your career, as well as some insight into your personality. 
  9. One-size-fits-all 
    Do you customize your CV every time you apply for a position? If not, you’re missing valuable opportunities to appeal to your target employer. Scour the job description for clues as to what’s most important and then manipulate the CV to address the specification. 
  10. Formatting issues 
    Keep your CV formatting simple because too many fancy tricks can render it unreadable when it’s scanned by a computer system. Likewise, be sure to create your CV in MS Word or PDF

You might assume that most people at the executive level have a very strong CV, but actually the opposite is true.