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Though employers want to hire people with strong leadership skills, it’s not enough to just have those skills. A resume needs to powerfully and persuasively articulate leadership skills, since it’s likely that many candidates vying for the same position will be making the same claim. Rather than join the chorus of employee hopefuls parroting the same tired phrases, selectively illustrate leadership ability by showcasing specific professional triumphs and abilities.
Leadership in Team Structures
Employers want to hire people who understand teamwork. True leadership involves an ability to cooperate, collaborate and engage effectively with colleagues in a team dynamic. Misguided leaders are overly assertive, even bossy or demeaning to colleagues. Strong leaders guide colleagues toward creative thinking, new solutions and different perspectives when working together. Your resume should describe leadership ability in a team setting, including skills such as listening, managing, rewarding and negotiating toward best solutions. A resume might state, "Managed a team of four designers to complete a major website overhaul, resulting in increased profits and enhanced customer interface."
Being an Ambassador
Companies rely on leaders to accurately and positively represent their brand both internally, to other employees, and externally, to clients, vendors, the media and the general public. Persuasive resumes highlight instances of skilled ambassadorship. Public speaking, conferences, internal workshops or professional training sessions or media engagement can all help illustrate excellent communication and brand fidelity. Closely linked with this leadership skill is the ability to work effectively in a diverse environment. Companies expect their leaders to be sensitive to multicultural issues in the workplace and when representing the company in public. Speaking multiple languages, studying abroad, volunteering abroad, or completing workshops and training sessions related to diversity can be highlighted on a resume.
The Right Action Words
Employers steer clear of resumes loaded with self-praise and cheap talk. Rather than scattering buzzwords throughout your resume, focus on actual accomplishments. Think of leadership in terms of verbs. Illustrate previous leadership ability with phrases that include verbs such as achieved, created, volunteered, influenced, negotiated, launched and won. These verbs help you construct concrete statements describing past leadership experience, using numbers to help quantify effectiveness. For example, a resume might state, "Negotiated preferential contract language to reduce overhead costs by $11,000 in a two-year time frame."
Responsibilities and Transferable Skills
An excellent strategy for conveying leadership while keeping within the confines of the brief resume is to link previous responsibilities with transferable skills. For example, you might say, “Positively influenced overall company culture by mentoring 15 new hires during their first six months of employment.” The previous responsibility -- mentoring new hires -- is directly linked with the transferable leadership skill of positively influencing company culture. Constructing resume statements in this way helps hiring managers imagine how leadership activities from previous employment or volunteer work will transfer to their own business.
Morgan Rush is a California journalist specializing in news, business writing, fitness and travel. He's written for numerous publications at the national, state and local level, including newspapers, magazines and websites. Rush holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego.
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