Keywords you need on your executive resume

Whether you’re searching for a job or a recruiter is searching for you, it’s crucial to use the right language.

Keywords you need on your executive resume

A single keyword communicates multiple skills and qualifications.


Your resume is an essential part of your professional profile, but how much thought have you given to the specifics? The language you use—or more precisely, the keywords you include—can make a significant difference in your job prospects.

Not only does the right language help to demonstrate your expertise, it’s what recruiters expect to see from executive-level resumes. Also, if you submit your resume to an online job site like Monster, computerized applicant tracking systems scan resumes for specific keywords that recruiters have indicated they’re searching for.  

Of course, many of these keywords will vary by industry.

“If you’re in IT, you’d want general terms like ‘project management,’ phrases like ‘cloud’ and ‘rapid’ because those are buzz words in the industry,” says Laura Handrick, an HR analyst for “When you look at the job description, look at the keywords in there and just replicate them. Because that’s what they’re going to search for.”

Speaking genuinely and candidly about your experience is also a good seller, but where it makes sense, sprinkle the following top executive keywords or terms throughout:

  • Strategic
  • P&L, Profit & Loss Responsibility
  • Growth, Revenue, Profit
  • ROI
  • Metrics
  • Change Management, Change Transition
  • Dollars Raised
  • Leadership
  • Operations
  • Management
  • Budgeting & Finance
  • Performance Improvement
  • Stakeholders

Hit all the angles

Keywords should be added to as many areas of the resume as possible.

“The goal with keywords is to have as many as possible that match the requirements in the job description,” says Nancy Spivey, a career coach, resume writer, and founder of Ready Set Resume.

“For example, an executive position with a software company may require experience with ‘Internet security software,’ so it’s important to have the key phrase ‘Internet security software’ on the resume.”

Include specifics

If you’re managing a team of people, how many people are you managing?

“If headhunters are looking for someone to move into another CEO role, they like to move them apples to apples,” says Debra Boggs, an executive resume writer and job search coach in Portland, Maine.

Showing the annual revenue or the valuation of the company is a good one. Other valuable details include the products a company manages or the markets a company serves.

Update your online presence

“A resume is something that usually is a follow up to an inquiry somebody has made based on some research,” says Mario Alosco, a partner with executive recruiting firm Radius Partners.

In other words, make sure that your keywords appear in all the places in which you are searchable—if you’re able—including social media profiles like LinkedIn and your company bio.

Get your resume assessed for free

Knowing which keywords you need to use on your resume is one thing; properly incorporating them is another. You don't want to end up with a tangle of keywords that don't communicate your skills and value. Could you use some help putting it all together? Get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster's Resume Writing Service. You'll get detailed feedback in two business days, including a review of your resume's appearance and content, and a prediction of a recruiter's first impression. It's a quick and easy way to help ensure you're putting your most professional foot forward.