Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Resume Guide
An Introduction to CMO Resumes
You know how to market, after all, you are a Chief Marketing Officer. But marketing yourself is different.
First of all, you have to be able to take an objective look at your skills and talents. You have to be very choosy about what you include and what you leave out in the limited space you have. That can be very difficult when you are proud of all you have achieved in your career.
Competition is fierce at the top, and competition for CMO jobs is even tougher. According to a recent Deloitte CMO study, the number of available marketing jobs have decreased. While those are not all CMO jobs, you have to be prepared for more people searching for fewer jobs. It will certainly help you to understand how recruiters think and know exactly how to develop a resume that will quickly attract their attention. That takes time, effort, and research.
Also, be aware that many companies are rebranding their Chief Marketing Officer position with a new title such as Chief Commercial Officer or President of Brands.
What do recruiters and other executives look for in a CMO and how do you make yourself stand out from the rest? Good questions.
This guide will walk you step-by-step through all the elements of a great CMO resume that is sure to get you noticed!
Just remember, time is money and a fabulous Chief Marketing Officer resume takes a lot of time.
A CMO by any other name
- Chief Commercial Officer
- President of Brands
- Chief Customer Officer
- Chief Growth Officer
Understanding the Big Picture
Job hunting at the Chief Marketing Officer level is a different beast compared to lower-level searches, but your resume is still the top sales tool you will use to get that coveted interview. Even if you are best friends with the CEO, you will have to present your resume to Human Resources and you want to impress from the start.
Let go of the notion that your resume is a listing of your previous jobs. It should be the story of your growth and success as a master marketer. It explains to prospective employers how you are going to help grow their business with your marketing talents by showing them what you have already achieved.
Keep in mind, however, that when we say “resume,” we really mean a flexible document that you will target to each job.
At the highest level, you need a resume that:
- Allows for easy scanning with clear organization and plenty of white space
- Offers an executive summary of your achievements using specific data and examples
- Is completely free of errors in spelling, grammar, and formatting
- Stays within a two-page limit unless you are an academic or seeking government work.
Let go of the notion that your CMO resume is just a listing of your previous jobs.
Let’s explore in detail each element of a successful CMO resume.
And if you decide you would rather take advantage of an executive resume writing service and use your valuable time to network, you can request a 1-on-1 consultation.
Layout and Design
As an expert marketer, you know how important design is, so we don’t really have to tell you that before a recruiter reads your resume, they get an impression of you from its design.
What impression do you want to give?
- A results-producing marketer.
All of the above, right? But how do you do that in one or two pages?
You keep it clean and airy. One way to do that is to make sure you vary your line lengths. If every bullet item ends at the margin, you will be presenting a sea of type that is difficult to read. Illegibility makes it less likely a human resources person will take the time to delve into your carefully crafted descriptions.
Along those lines, use an easy-to-read font. Our design team has chosen the most legible fonts for all our resume templates, so take a look at those.
Selecting the Right Font
There’s a reason that resumes are fairly uniform.
Recruiters need to be able to access all your pertinent information quickly. You don’t want to take a chance that they will move on because they can’t find your job title or contact information. Crisp organization not only makes a good impression, but it allows hiring professionals to find exactly what they are looking for in your resume.
As a marketer, you may be tempted to innovate, but do so while coloring inside the lines in this case. We’re not saying you shouldn’t add a personal touch, but skip the graphics at this level and use very limited or no color.
You may have hands-on design skills, so if you decide you want to create your own layout, use your knowledge of design principles to guide you.
Now let’s break down the sections that comprise your resume and its content.
Right at the top of your resume, clearly defined, and simply stated, goes your contact information. You want recruiters to know who you are, and to be able to grab the phone and call you in (or send that calendar invitation) for that interview.
This section should include the obvious: Your name, phone number, email, and LinkedIn URL. It’s fine to use your city and state. If you have a professional portfolio site that contains your marketing campaigns, you may consider adding it here, but if this section looks too busy, you can add that URL further down in your resume.
This section should not include your street address, more than one email address, or any non-professional social media accounts.
Your Title and Summary
Let’s get the easy part out of the way first. Your title should match the job you seek, so for you that means Chief Marketing Officer (or similar title) and any other specifics of the job.
Keep this in mind: Your summary is very different from an objective. Think about it: Your objective should be to get the job for which you are applying; otherwise, why are you making the time and effort to apply? Enough said there.
Phrases Often Found in CMO Job Descriptions
- Chief storyteller
- Growth driver
- Communication leader
- Customer advocate
- Analyst and visionary
Now for the meat.
Your summary has to convey, in just a few sentences, your unique value proposition. This includes your top accomplishments and how they prepared you for your next challenge. Think of this as a super-summary because while you do have to sum up your career, you have to do so in a way that shows recruiters how you will elevate the marketing department with your talents.
You may want to write this section last since it hits the highlights of your resume. Your goal should be to prove to your potential employer that not only do you have great marketing and management skills, but that you are ready to put those skills to work for them. Your summary gives you a chance to use some creative adjectives, but make sure you back them up with hard facts.
Your resume is micro-targeted marketing for one specific type of role, so make sure you make the necessary changes that demonstrate that you are the perfect candidate. In terms of targeting your resume for a very specific job opportunity, use the exact job title from the listing and add keywords that are currently not in your executive resume.
Also use industry-specific language. If you are trying to move from one industry to another, explain how your experience translates, and why you are right for the job.
Core Competencies, Skills, and Accomplishments
This is the perfect place to add in the keywords and phrases that will get you past the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). While ATS algorithms are sophisticated and do more than ranking your resume based on the number of relevant keywords you use, you definitely need to include the skills your potential employer considers to be high value.
Analyze the job listing and make sure you use exact phrases. If the job listing says “search engine optimization,” don’t limit your language to just SEO. Spell it out. In fact, do both to increase your chances. Some employers list the ATS that they use or you can find out through a web search. Take advantage of this detail to find out how it works and what you can do to make sure you pass that first crucial step.
While there is no one standard Chief Marketing Officer job description, many CMO skills are ubiquitous. At the C-suite level, recruiters assume you know how to develop a marketing campaign, but they also need to know that you have the vision to lead and the management skills to go with that vision. Here are the top five traits that Forbes says CMOs have in common:
- They are team players who also know how to lead.
- They develop creative solutions and adapt quickly.
- They know the customer always comes first.
- They communicate, both in person and in writing. (By the way, you need to show this skill throughout your resume.)
- They are excellent at cutting through the data and analyzing its importance.
Common CMO Skills
These attributes should show up in your resume, and your core competencies section is a great place to include them.. As you compile this section, make sure you are hitting both your learned marketing knowledge and your people skills.
This is the nitty-gritty of your resume. Once you have passed the quick scan, recruiters will want a more in-depth look at your career. This section is your chance to show what you know, and what you’ve accomplished so far. Recruiters will be looking to make sure you demonstrate detailed knowledge of production, information technology, and legal and financial issues. You must also prove your expertise in marketing principles, brand, product, and service management.
Stick with bulleted items: Big paragraphs of text are off-putting, even if you really want to explain exactly how you increased marketing responses by 257 percent. Save that detail for the interview.
Get started by making a preliminary list of the last 10 years of your career and brainstorm everything you did at each job, the dates you were there, and your titles. Then, go back and cross off duplicate skills (no need to waste space). Put a star next to your most impressive achievements. Then ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I have quantifiable evidence to back up my assertions?
- Do my achievements show the skills and experience the job requires?
- Am I able to demonstrate a pattern of growth in knowledge and responsibility?
- Am I leaving something in because it means something more to me than it will to a recruiter or future employer?
Once you have eliminated anything that doesn’t fit the bill, scrutinize your word use. Your resume must convey your ability to communicate strongly and accurately, since that is an absolute requirement for your position, so clear descriptions are important.
Be aware that you must also show you are a person of action. Every word counts, so use powerful verbs and descriptors to make your case. If possible, avoid repeating the same verb. You can do something simple like googling “marketing action words” if you get stuck you might consider hiring us to help.
Consider marketing trends and create a story in this section that describes how you’ve stayed ahead of the curve by mentioning campaigns you’ve spearheaded and the growth those campaigns have led to. Those achievements not only tell recruiters what you have done but show that you will be able to solve challenges moving forward.
Also, remember that ultimately your audience is the C-suite, so demonstrate that you fit into the power structure and know-how to make valuable contributions across teams.
Education and Awards
Keep this section simple. You have a bachelor’s degree, most likely in marketing or another business area, and you might also have earned an MBA. You have been out of school for some time, so don’t bother with your GPA (unless you just earned your Master’s degree and your GPA is stellar).
Depending on space, you may create a separate section for any marketing awards you or your teams have earned. If you have a portfolio of your award-winning marketing campaigns, you can list the URL in this section. Add in any professional affiliations as well.
Putting It All Together
Now that we have broken it all down, let’s put it back together. Take a look at our example. Then consider all the pointers we’ve taught you so far. If you are spilling over onto a second page, make sure that you don’t split a section.
Go over your finished resume carefully. Twice. And then have a trusted friend or colleague go over it. Twice. At the CMO level, you can’t afford a typo to take you out of the running, and it will. If you can’t get the details right when you are trying to impress, what will happen after you get the job?
Finally, ask yourself this: Would I interview someone with this resume? The answer should be a resounding, Yes!
After reading this guide, have you calculated the time and effort it will take for you to do all this on your own? Do you want your resume to stand out from the crowd?
We invite you to request a free one-on-one consultation with one of our career experts and let us help you get that interview.
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