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Have your sights set on the C-Suite? Part Two: Ensure your CV works just as hard as you do

This second instalment aims to help you ensure that your CV works hard to reflect you and why it’s the foundation of your next career move. Moving on or moving up, starting out or changing course, here’s how to do it well.

Our new ‘Eye on the C-Suite’ series explores the ascending drive to the top and offers a strategic roadmap to amplify your prospects. We’ll explore today’s much-needed skillsets and future-proof leadership traits, with downloadable guides along the way.

Following part one: why it’s crucial to take charge of your career and maximize your opportunities, this second instalment aims to help you ensure that your CV works just as hard as you. 

Taking the trouble to perfect your CV is a crucial first step towards landing the executive job you desire. And our guides to a strong CV can help get it right.

What to include on a C-Suite CV with executive search appeal

A quick Google search for tips on how to write a C-Suite level CV generates over 100 million results. Yet despite all the help and advice available out there, every year we see hundreds of CV’s missing the mark. So, how do you stand out? What should you include, and is there anything you should exclude?

When applying for C-Level roles, it's important to recognize that this level of CV will require a different standard than for other senior management levels. It’s equally important that your CV stands out from other applicants and makes a strong first impression.

Flexibility is key. Don’t be afraid of tailoring your CV to the position you’re after.

Comprehensive guides with additional detailed advice tailored to the stage of your career are available for download below. 

Senior Candidates

Download our guide to the CV in the Digital Age for Senior Candidates.


The stakes are high so make it snappy

To provide some perspective, Odgers Berndtson executive search consultants can receive thousands of CVs a year, so it’s helpful all round to cut to the chase and demonstrate your top-level achievements and challenges overcome.

Illuminate yourself to stand out and place yourself front-of-mind for the roles you are targeting.

Are you a trusted adviser to a C-Level member? What have you written that makes you an industry thought leader? Are you part of any key professional networks or won an industry award? What makes you stand out?

If you’re being considered and in the running for the C-Level role, it’s assumed you’ve got the necessary experience and technical capabilities to do the job. Here, it’s now your opportunity to showcase everything else you’ve got to stand out: your unique leadership skills and achievements, your value-add and demonstrated abilities, and specific challenges you’ve overcome.

In today’s unpredictable global environment, the ante has been upped.

Today’s leaders are being judged against a far wider range of values and mindsets, in addition to their technical skills. The most successful leaders now score highly for their curiosity, courage and emotional intelligence – traits that typically mattered less some years ago. And in many ways, none of these skills deserve the word ‘soft’ because they clearly aren’t. They’re power skills; they take real effort, real strategy, and real qualities that few possess.

We’ll discuss these future-proof skillsets and c-suite leadership traits needed most further in the series. In the meantime, continue reading our insight on the rise of indispensable soft skills.

Early-Career Candidates

Download our guide to the CV in the Digital Age for Junior Candidates.


Agility in times of crisis

Everybody is going to remember what happened in 2020 - we all went through it together, and we all had to pivot, one way or another. The pandemic was just another resilience and stress test in the end, and a good leader will have mastered it as well as any other challenge. However, it may be worth making mention of how you dealt with it – and lead through it. Demonstrate how agile you were as a leader and use it as a way to reflect your resilience.

Contribution across the wider leadership team

Clients don’t just want someone who can do the designated job, they are looking for individuals who can contribute across the leadership team. Use language in your CV that reflects the breadth of your capabilities.

Great leaders never stop looking for ways to improve results, build and lead stronger teams, and provide greater support to the businesses and functions across the company. Being seen as a ‘change agent’ will only enhance your image as a C-Suite prospect. Illuminate that experience.

Get the right message out

Your reputation in the marketplace is critical. Think about the message you’re conveying when you’re engaging with your network. 

Will people assume that you just want any new job? Or will they see that you’re motivated, ambitious, clear on your personal goals and ready for your next career move? 

Clarity always counts in your favor.

Beyond the CV…

Remember, your CV is also a framework for conversation. Following these tips, and more in our detailed guides, will help you articulate your skill set and value add, and help identify key talking points for your discussions with executive search firms and the job interviews that hopefully will follow. 

At Odgers Berndtson, we’ve spent over half a century helping many of the world’s best organizations find the right senior talent to drive their agendas. If you have what it takes to fill a senior leadership position, we’d certainly like to hear from you.

Watch out for the next installment in this series where we’ll discuss future-proof C-Suite skillsets and leadership traits needed most… And to shorten the odds of landing the executive position you want, start your search now and check out our advertised opportunities here.

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