How to Add More Leadership Experience to Your Resume

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Regardless of the field you might be interested in going into, leadership experience will help your resume stand out. 

There are five methods of showing your leadership skills on your resume. Let's take a look.

See more resume tips and my approach to building resumes. Check out my Resume Tips page.

Show that you produce results on your resume

This may seem counter intuitive, but unless you can show you can produce results for a manager, you will never be a leader. Leaders deliver accomplishments to the organization and those accomplishments underscore your capability as an individual.

Where do you find your accomplishments? From the work and reporting you do during the course of the year to your manager.

Action verbs on your resume show leadership capability

Action verbs almost automatically show leadership capabilities because action verbs imply movement and change. The contrast of using action verbs to passive responsibility descriptions on your resume is a striking difference. You don't want to show much of the responsibilities you have in your work on the resume; you want to concentrate on the results you've delivered.

The way to do that is to start your bullet points for a position with an action verb and then a result that you delivered. 

Of course, you want to provide some context to the work you do that is a responsibility ("project managed multi-million dollar projects to completion" vs. "coordinated project work between three different project managers"). But this is limited. You want it to be like one bullet point for a position.

The rest of the points for a position should be results, starting them with action verbs. 

Action verb examples

There are many verbs that can be used. Here are my favorites, because they are focused on accomplishments:

  • Delivered
  • Created
  • Directed
  • Lead
  • Coached
  • Increased
  • Decreased
  • Improved
  • Exceeded

Focus on leadership needs in the job description

One of the critical methods of improving chances for an interview is to ensure that, where you have the job skills, to match those that are in the job description. That includes leadership job skills.

For example, if the job description says that you must demonstrate experience leading teams, your experience leading teams needs to be part of your resume. 

Often, even if the rest of your job skills don't entirely match the job description, nailing the leadership job skill on your resume will help overcome deficiencies in other areas.

Note: you don't need to be a manager to lead teams. There are plenty of examples in cubicles where matrix managed teams is the norm. If you don't have "manager" in your title, you can use these matrix managed projects to demonstrate leadership.

Demonstrate leadership through specialized knowledge important to the business

There is some truth to "knowledge is power." Being a Subject Matter Expert means you know a lot about some specific subject. If that subject is associated with the job description -- and it usually is -- demonstrate that knowledge in what you put into your resume.

How do you know you're an expert in an area? Outside of credentials, if people in your department get asked who to talk to about "x", and the people in your department direct the person to you, you're an expert. 

When you are an expert, you tend to get asked to show that expertise to the rest of the department, either through presentations or written updates about the subject or both. Use those types of accomplishments to show on your resume that you have expertise in a particular area -- especially if that expertise is needed on the job description.

Develop external leadership skills

While the best leadership skills to show on your resume are those you have from your work experience, you may not have the ability in your current position to show any. This could be a result from the type of work you are doing, you are new to the workplace, or the current position's work doesn't lend itself to leadership skill development.

If that's the case, you may need to apply some external work to gain leadership skills needed on a resume. 

Here are two examples:

Take a leadership course

A leadership course will help enhance your skills and knowledge, and will also give you the opportunity to meet like-minded professionals.

Or, look at things you have already been involved in to add to your experience on a resume. Volunteering in your neighborhood as a youth, or part of a church or camp group can be counted as leadership experience in some capacities. Take a look at the other places you’ve lead a project as well. A community art, festival or dance might have been a leadership experience if you headed a project or cleanup crew.

Find a way to include these types of activities into your volunteer work, leadership experience and skill sets on your resume.

Volunteer in Your Community

There are many ways you can get some leadership experience outside of work, and one of the best is by volunteering in your own community. For example, you can volunteer at homeless shelters, hospitals, refugee camps and whatever other organizations are in your area. You could also mentor a young child or teen.

Volunteering helps you to make a difference in the life of another person and shows your dedication to community efforts. Working within the leadership structure of the volunteer organization can provide valuable leadership experience that can be included on the resume.

Regardless of the position, showing leadership skills on your resume can provide a powerful differentiator of your work compared to other people interested in the position. When we compete with everyone on the planet for work, every competitive advantage we can show on a resume is worth the effort to get the interview.

  • Thanks for the great post! These are really good tips when preparing a resume, especially for new graduates. It is so competitive now in the job market and we need every advantage that we can get, and this is truly one of them.

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