31 December 2023 CJPI Insights People Strategy

Managing Director CV: What To Look Out For

Selecting the right Managing Director (MD) is a critical decision with far-reaching consequences. They become the nucleus of your organisation, orchestrating strategic direction, operational excellence, and ultimately, the trajectory of your success. Their CV/resume, therefore, serves as a crucial first impression, offering a glimpse into their capabilities and potential fit with your organisation’s unique DNA.



Essential Elements to Decipher

Decoding a Managing Director’s CV requires a discerning eye and a structured approach. This guide equips leaders with the necessary tools to efficiently review these documents, identifying candidates who possess the leadership acumen and strategic vision to steer your company towards its desired future.

1. The Power of Conciseness Before Detail

In the C-suite realm, time is an invaluable commodity. A seasoned MD candidate understands this, translating their career tapestry into a concise yet impactful Executive Summary. This condensed outline at the beginning of the CV needs to be more than just words; it should capture the leadership prowess and strength of the candidate set out in the pages ahead. It should highlight key achievements with laser-like precision, showcasing expertise without unnecessary embellishment. Imagine a recruiter sifting through a mountain of resumes; a summary that speaks volumes in a single glance, devoid of fluff and brimming with substance, is the one that secures attention and invites further exploration.

2. Clarity and Readability

The visual appeal of a CV often goes underestimated, but isn’t everything. Firstly, the two-page rule is nonsense – an experienced MD may not be able to detail their career and achievements in just two pages. However, a concise, well-formatted CV will stand out. Prioritising information, clear headings, and bullet points. Think of it as an invitation to delve deeper, whilst making clear the headline points relating to the role.

3. Language and Tone

The language used in an MD’s CV is key to addressing their ability to communicate effectively. The ability to translate complex ideas into plain language and action is a cornerstone of effective leadership. The tone should strike a delicate balance: professional yet accessible, ensuring that even those outside the industry’s jargon can grasp the candidate’s potential contributions. Picture a boardroom with diverse stakeholders – the MD needs to connect with each, and the CV is the first step in understanding how they are likely to do that in practice.

4. Personalisation and Its Impact

Personalisation goes beyond addressing the recruiter or hiring manager by name. A strong MD candidate tailors their CV to resonate with the specific needs and challenges of the organisation. The Executive Summary should not simply be a generic boast; it should reflect a studied understanding of the company’s unique identity, and its triumphs and tribulations. A generic CV signals a lack of genuine interest, a missed opportunity to build a bridge of understanding before the interview even begins. Personalisation is not flattery; it demonstrates strategic thinking and commitment to the vision.

5. Unveiling Technical Proficiency

An MD’s skillset often goes beyond the core qualities of leadership. This section of the CV should dissect the intricacies that make an MD stand out, particularly if the role is quite hands-on or technical. The ideal candidate should demonstrate that they possess the acumen to navigate these with precision and relevance. Business operations, strategic planning, financial management skills, and industry nuance are the skills which should shine in more general roles – but may not be isolated to a single section.

6. Achievements that Speak Volumes

Quantifiable achievements are the gold dust of an MD’s CV. This should extend beyond a list of duties; it should contain measurable achievements and outline their leadership or involvement in those achievements compellingly and credibly. From increasing revenue to what cost-saving strategies they have implemented, these achievements should be a tangible, verifiable story in numbers and a narrative of impactful leadership throughout the candidate’s career.

7. Qualifications

While there may not be a single, definitive set of qualifications for an MD – and in many cases, they require none at all beyond experience – this section of the CV should explore how an educational background contributes to their experience or the specifics of the role requirements. Relevant degrees, certifications, and ongoing professional development may demonstrate a commitment to staying at the forefront of industry best practices. However, never discount someone for the role through qualifications alone (unless the role expressly requires a specific qualification).

8. Delving into Career History

The career trajectory of an MD candidate is often a complex and progressive one. The CV should set out crucial aspects like the number of roles held, duration in each position, and the diversity of experiences amassed. A candidate with a proven track record of success, as well as navigating challenges shows a rounded candidate. Experience across different businesses and sectors is likely to demonstrate adaptability and a broad executive skillset to the table. Conversely, a specific ‘vertical’ career path is often taken by MD candidates, so weighing up what success looks like for the role will guide the value of broad and adaptive experience, against highly targeted industry experience (an executive search firm can help you with this).

9. Unveiling Personality through the CV

Deciphering personality from a CV is very difficult, as it is – by its nature – a sales-focused document. However, subtle clues may exist. Listed hobbies and the overall writing style can offer insights into the candidate’s character. However, as with any strategic hire, a professionally administered psychometric assessment is a must to reveal insights beyond what the candidate wants you to know from their CV.

Concluding Thoughts

In conclusion, decoding Managing Director CVs requires a holistic yet detailed approach. Ultimately selecting the Managing Director who can steer their business is one of the most critical people decisions a company can make. It is often necessary to get professional assistance in the executive search and selection process. This is why the vast majority of companies – even those with the largest internal talent teams still rely on executive search firms.

While a well-crafted CV is crucial, it’s just the first chapter in the assessment journey. Other considerations are important, including;

  • References: Validating what you understand to have been achieved.
  • Psychometric Assessments: Expert personality profiles specifically focused on leadership roles are a must.
  • Case Studies and Presentations: Present real-world challenges or business scenarios and observe the candidate’s problem-solving approach and decision-making skills.
  • Don’t Just Put a Job Advert Out: Most senior leaders we hire on behalf of clients were not actively looking for a job and therefore not looking at job boards, to benefit from exploring the entire market available you should weigh up the costs of using professional executive search firms v’s the risk of trying to do it in-house!

Remember, hiring an MD is not just filling a position; it’s about entrusting the very future of your company to a capable and visionary leader. If you are looking for some support, contact us for an informal discussion in the first instance.

CJPI Insights

This post has been published by the CJPI Insights Editorial Team, compiling the best insights and research from our experts.

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