COO Resumes – What Works & What Doesn’t

by Mary Elizabeth Bradford

Female COO

As an executive resume writer, I often hear concerns from Chief Operating Officers regarding their job search. They often make statements such as:

  • I keep getting approached through LinkedIn for positions that are beneath my capabilities.
  • I want to step up my role from SVP to COO and I have been told by recruiters that my resume is not accurately representing my candidacy.
  • I have not had to look for a position – jobs have always been offered to me.
  • I am not clear on what is the proper protocol for COOs in today’s job market.

The first two statements qualify as perception problems – and an experienced, top executive resume writer can solve this issue by reframing your resume (and/or LinkedIn profile) and building it to the C-Suite role you want next, which effectively rebrands you more accurately in relation to your capabilities. When this reframing is done properly it affects your perceived value from even a cursory glance at your resume, and that has a ripple effect throughout the evolution of the opportunities you want to vet.

The second two statements are solved by simply sharing knowledge about today’s executive market, various C-Suite job search strategies, and general marketing information in order to increase your knowledge in these areas so you can set healthy expectations of not only the specialists you may be partnering with to help you evolve into your next transition but also expectations regarding the market in general.

All of this ultimately connects back to your COO resume, because it sets the tone and the pace for everything related to your transition.

What Works

A few things you absolutely need to have in your executive resume include:

  • A clear message that stands out at the top of your resume and outlines what you are looking for next.
  • An overall message of results consistently throughout your career – even in lower-level roles. Metrics-driven results should begin each achievement statement or bullet.
  • A summary leadership profile that encompasses all of your core skills as they relate to the position you want next will serve as a strong motivator to your audience because it enables them to quickly scan all of your core skills, accolades, advanced degrees or certifications, and top achievements at a quick glance. You can find a COO resume example that demonstrates a clear leadership profile here. In addition, here is an idea of what a good leadership summary might include:

15+ years Manufacturing
P&L to $3B
Teams to 3,000
Global Oversight
2 M&As/1 IPO/5 Divisional Turnarounds
Six Sigma Blackbelt
EMBA from Yale

Increased revenue $120M in 8 months for a billion-dollar technology company

Realized $65M profits in first 12 months through leading struggling division out of 3-year history of flat performance

Led transformation of global digital market – effectively setting foundation for 100% YOY growth through 2020

Here are a few other tips for what works for top COO resumes:

  • Match up your accomplishments to the key skills that are called for in the position you want next.
  • Don’t go back more than 20 years in your career narrative.
  • Place all critical points, skills, highlights, advanced degrees, and awards that establish you as a thought leader at the top of your resume.

What Doesn’t Work

What doesn’t work includes the following:

  • Generalizing: Creating your resume in the spirit of outlining all you have done your entire career in hopes that your audience will see your voluminous expertise over 20, 30, or more years and know that you are qualified for a specific position. Generally speaking, your marketing message has to follow the same Marketing 101 rules that we all must follow, which is to build your COO resume TO the role you want next.
  • Too much text: Making your audience work really hard by burying degrees, certifications, metrics, and other key value points within the text of your resume with no discernable features to call them out. A good COO resume spoon-feeds your audience all the key summary points. By doing this, details are more easily digested. Think of your COO resume as 2 resumes in 1: the cursory glance resume and the deeper-read resume.
  • Lack of professional polish: An old-style resume is generally only appreciated by a very select, mature audience. Plain collegiate narrative makes you – and your resume – look dated. A professional presentation befitting of your stature and status is a critical aspect of your branding. A good, organized, balanced design keeps your reader on the page longer.

These tips will help you discern what to keep in and what to leave out of your executive/COO resume as well as serve as a guide to controlling the quality and the strategy of both your layout and content.

Since 2008, triple-certified and multi-award-winning executive resume writer, Mary Elizabeth Bradford, has been helping VP's to C-Suite executives worldwide as THE #1 trusted online source for expertly designed executive resumes, LinkedIn profiles, executive biographies and recruiter/private equity/venture capital distributions. Her website,, is a Forbes 100 Career Website.

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