Crafting a killer Executive CV – The experts’ views

There seem to be numerous views as to what makes the ideal Executive CV and lots of ‘experts’ claim to have the holy grail. So we thought we’d ask those who use CV’s to recruit for roles, what they think. We spoke to a wide range of head-hunters, in-house talent sourcing leads and hiring managers about what impresses them most.


Here’s what they had to say about how to put yourself at the head of the queue when it comes to applying for the top jobs:

Less is more

The first thing we noticed is that there are different strokes for different folks. Some recruiters prefer more detail, some less. Some like lots of numbers, others don’t. So anyone suggesting that there’s an ideal template is off-beam. In general, it seems anything over 2 pages is a waste of effort. In fact, as Benjamin Franklyn said, ‘taking the extra time it takes to write a short note’ seems to pay dividends. Less is generally seen as more.

Make it visually impactful

What’s also clear is that whilst so much effort goes into drafting and redrafting the words in a CV, the look and feel is just as important as the narrative. Clean, clear impact, modern typeface (Rockwell seems to go down well), tasteful use of some colour, no photos for the UK market, head-shots for continental Europe. Typically a CV gets no more than 2 minutes reading time, a least initially, so like a good book, it needs to strike a chord from the outset.

Less jargon, more human

Looks matter, but so does grammatical correctness. You’ll certainly lose brownie points for bad use of language. Check your tenses. Write consistently in the first or third person. Skip the jargon and acronyms. Write so that anyone can get what you’re saying. As Einstein pointed out, ‘if you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.’

Stick to the facts

What goes down best is straight-forward, no-nonsense, authenticity. Leave the flowery language – things like ‘commercially astute,’ ‘strategically aware,’ ‘interpersonally gifted.’


Stick to the facts – ‘This is what I did, and this was the result.’ The clue here is that the first part of the CV is referred to by many head-hunters as the ‘b***s*** box’. Self-aggrandisement may feel satisfying, but it actually puts people off.


So there’s no such thing as perfect when it comes to writing the killer CV, but like the best recipes, less is more.

How can we help?

At Connor we do things differently. We understand that career transition for senior executives is complex. Our Executive Outplacement Service is exclusive, confidential and has a track record of helping senior executives to secure the right, next opportunity. Contact us on 01491 414010 to discuss your unique requirement, or complete the contact form below for a call back. 


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