No one has to call you a leader before you can start being one. Job title isn’t everything; employers are interested in what results and influence you bring to the table. Here are 4 tips for crafting a strong, leadership-focused resume.
Give Yourself Credit
Don’t undersell your contributions. You may not have had “manager” in your title, but it is a guarantee that if you have contributed anything of value to an organization, you have had the opportunity to lead.
As you start to brainstorm what experience and qualities best demonstrate your leadership abilities, ask yourself these questions:
- Did you develop a strategy or plan? What were the success criteria? What results did you achieve?
- What funds did you oversee? How much? What were they used for? Did you set the priorities for how they would be spent?
- Were you accountable for a timeline or schedule? What was your on-time delivery rate? How did you hold others accountable for delivering on time?
- Did you develop or implement a process? Did you evaluate or improve a process or policy?
- Have you led conflict resolution? Did you bring together disagreeing parties and influence a compromise?
- What performance management have you done? Have you helped someone identify opportunities for growth, and worked with them to improve?
- Did others look to you for guidance or assignments?
Once you’ve answered those questions, start listing your jobs/experience in reverse-chronological order, with your most recent experience first. Then add bullet points describing your contributions in each position. Creating a first draft of a resume is a bear – you’ll just have to suck it up! Get it all on paper, however ineloquent and messy. Then take a break. Go for a walk, watch a show, run some errands. Let it sit for a while and then come back with a fresh set of eyes.
Cover Letters Make You Real
A cover letter is your opportunity to show what you know about the job and to demonstrate why you’re the best fit. The cover letter lets you express your personality, passion, and goals – where your resume focuses on your skills and qualifications. A brief and well-written cover letter also demonstrates your ability to write and communicate.
Here are a few questions your cover letter might answer:
- What interests you about this specific role?
- What do you know about the company or industry, and why are you passionate about working for them?
- What are your long-term career goals, and how will those goals make you a good fit for the position?
Your cover letter isn’t the only resource hiring managers have to learn more about you, the person. Make your social media an asset – not a liability. Virtually every hiring manager will scan your social media accounts for red flags, including inflammatory comments or unsavory behavior. Keep your personal accounts personal or keep them squeaky clean. Make social media work for you by leveraging sites such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor to expand your professional network.
Brevity is Hard Work
I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter. – Blaise Pascal
While the old rule of a “one page resume” doesn’t hold true anymore, it is important to be concise and articulate – and that takes work! As you make your second (or third, or fourth) draft of your resume, consider these points:
- Nix the passive voice. Using the passive voice makes you someone who was acted upon, rather than someone who takes action. Instead of “multiple accounts were successfully managed by a team overseen by me” try “I led a team that successfully managed multiple accounts.”
- Ditch the full sentences. Opt for concise statements and bulleted points.
- Crack open a thesaurus. Make your resume more compelling and add variety by finding just the right word to convey your thoughts. Pay particular attention to those action verbs.
- Use an easy-to-read, attractive layout – and take advantage of the many resume builder services out there. The look and feel of your resume should be appropriate to your industry. Graphic artists and performers can pull off a funky, design-oriented layout. Project managers and directors of operations should probably keep things clean and simple.
Get a second, third, or fourth set of eyes on your resume. Not only can your friends and colleagues help you identify your contributions, a resume is one place where you really, really do not want to have a typo.
You Get 0% of the Jobs You Don’t Apply For
Applying for a job is in itself an experience – just putting together a resume or enduring the interview process is preparing you for the moment that your skills, the timing, and the right opportunity align. Be brave and put your name out there. Even if you aren’t successful at getting this position right now, the organization now knows you are ambitious and interested in leadership opportunities, and your name will stay in the back of hiring managers’ minds as new positions come open. Many of my strongest hires have been those who weren’t successful landing a position the first time around, but who took that as a challenge to show me why they belonged on my team!
Samantha Butterworth is the Director of the Broadcast & Events division for the LDS Church. She has 16 years experience in instructional design and media production, including film, television, corporate training, and distance learning. Before joining the Broadcasting Division, Samantha was in high demand as an eLearning consultant, adapting corporate training programs and university courses for Internet and television delivery. She also served as the Operations Manager for Roots Television, one of the first online television networks.
Samantha has worked with the foremost celebrity personalities in the peak performance industry, and has a proven track record of earning the trust and respect of high-profile clients. She has designed and taught live and online courses in writing and composition, and her formal evaluations of Online Learning in First-year University Writing have been published in leading academic journals.
The views expressed here are the opinions of Samantha Butterworth and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Publishing Services Department or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.