Leadership is one of the great intangible qualities employers seek. Often, it’s difficult to identify leaders, and sadly there’s no “look” a leader has. Think about sports. Various coaches supposedly exhibit leadership abilities, only to be fired when their teams underachieve. Finding the right leader is incredibly tough on hiring managers, and so they look for key indicators on resumes.
You already know that your resume should be short on intangible qualities like “hard worker” or “self-starter” and long on accomplishments like “increased sales by 25 percent last year.” How does that translate to leadership? It’s not as difficult as you think. Leadership is basically exemplified by results. If you helped the company increase sales, claim that, but also be upfront about your role. If it was your sales strategy, then it ain’t bragging if it’s true! If you were someone who simply participated, that’s important to note that role also.
The following are five keys to translate your work to pique the interest of hiring managers looking for leaders:
- Be Honest. If you didn’t lead the sales initiative, it’s ok to say you didn’t! Hiring managers are interested in what you accomplished and learned as part of a team. The best leaders are also the best subordinates. Often a hiring manager will ask you why the team was successful. This leads to the second key.
- Identify Leadership Qualities. As part of a team, be on the lookout for qualities that the team leader displays. These qualities can be helpful or harmful to the team’s goal. Identify these goals and think about why they were/weren’t successful. By evaluating the efficacy of these methods, hiring managers will be impressed with your keen insight and understanding of what it takes to lead.
- Be Specific. The temptation to sugarcoat your accomplishments on a resume is very enticing. Don’t do that. You don’t need to! Let your accomplishments speak for themselves and the hiring manager across from you will note how self-assured you are in your role. People that display the self-assuredness derived from being specific and clear about what they’ve done, are the type of people who are great leaders. They already know how to clearly communicate.
- No Muddling. Similar to the third key, be concise. Great leaders are often identified by how easily understandable they are. Bad leaders sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher. Don’t use a ton of words to express what two or three will do. Get to the point, your potential employer will appreciate that.
- Never Talk About Leading Unless You Have. If you don’t have leadership, don’t claim it. Don’t claim to be the “driving force on the team” if you didn’t have the title of “team leader.” This makes you appear egotistical and obfuscates the message you’re trying to project about your leadership knowledge base.
Being a leader is sometimes more about following than leading. Simply follow these keys when writing your resume and you’ll find that you’ve clearly identified great leaders in your past and have the ability to replicate their methods.