Tips for Demonstrating Leadership Skills on Your Resume
Regardless of the field that you work in, incorporating leadership skills on your resume is a crucial step in making sure your application is noticed by employers. While technical and field-specific skills are important, employers want to know that the person they hire is going to be an effective employee who works well with others. Some examples of leadership skills that can and should be included on your resume are:
- Working in a team
- Communication (written and verbal)
- Relationship Building
- Delegating Tasks
- Strategic Planning
And the list goes on. A great way to make sure you are demonstrating leadership skills on your resume is to think of leaders in your life. What skills do they have that makes them a good leader? How can you develop and embody those same skills?
Developing Leadership Skills
- Look for Opportunities to Take Initiative
Even if you don’t hold a leadership position at work, you can boost your leadership skills by taking the initiative to lead specific tasks, projects, or groups. Start by asking yourself, “What problems can I solve?” Then propose solutions to your supervisor and offer to lead the efforts. These responsibilities can be added to your resume as an excellent example of being an effective leader and employee.
- Get Involved Outside of Work
Joining professional organizations related to your field and volunteering for a cause you believe in can provide opportunities to develop a wide variety of skills. By getting involved outside of work, you can join planning committees, attend conferences, and build relationships that will strengthen your ability to lead projects and people. This involvement also shows employers your commitment to your industry, community, and personal development in a way that can be easily captured on a resume.
- Learn How to Lead
Take it a step further and commit to growing your leadership skills by completing a leadership training program, course, or certification. If you feel like you’re new to the world of leadership, this is a great way to boost your confidence, build your awareness of leadership techniques, and gain tangible credentials to share with employers.
- Ask for Feedback
So many people have great leadership skills, but they just don’t know it! One of the best ways to learn about your own skills and abilities is to ask others. Ask your supervisor, coworkers, employees, or anyone else who sees you in action what they think you’re good at; not just related to your day-to-day job duties, but as a person, employee, and leader. You’ll learn how your work is coming across to other people and what you do that really leaves an impact. This can also be a great starting point for developing your skills because it will show you where you might need to improve and grow. There’s a good chance that when you ask for feedback, you’ll learn that you already have more leadership skills than you realized!
Explaining Leadership Skills on a Resume
Developing leadership skills is crucial, but if you don’t explain them on your resume, the employer may never know all that you have to offer. And the act of creating an exceptional resume even demonstrates the leadership skill of written communication!
- Add to Your Bullet Points
To communicate the leadership skills that you use at work, craft impactful bullet points that showcase not only your technical and scientific abilities but also your “soft skills.” An easy way to weave these skills into the content of your bullet points is to use something called the WHO Method. When you’re writing, think about:
W - What did I do? (Task)
H - How did I do it? (Skills/Tools)
O - What was the outcome? (Result)
Including each of those three pieces into one bullet point allows you to share with the employer all of the skills that you have and how using those skills effectively produced results. The “How” portion is where you can include the leadership skills that you’ve worked so hard to develop, along with skills specific to your industry.
Here are a few examples to get you started. Notice how the WHO Method is used in each one:
- Created daily reports using clear and concise written communication, ensuring an accurate record of progress was kept
- Led a team of 5 in conducting research on plant genetics by effectively delegating tasks and organizing information, resulting in the creation of a comprehensive report
- Developed research methods by strategically planning and creatively designing processes, contributing to a more effective study and a 15% increase in productivity
- Focus on the leadership skills that are listed in a specific job description that you’re applying for.
- Quantify your results as much as possible to boost your credibility and demonstrate your effectiveness.
- Create Separate Sections
Leadership skills can also be highlighted through a separate section on your resume following your work experience and education. A separate section calls attention to your diverse skill set as a leader and can provide context for the employer. Some examples for resume section titles that can highlight your leadership skills are:
- Leadership Experience
- Professional Organizations
- Volunteer Work
So while you may not currently be in a position of leadership at your job, you can still grow as a leader and show employers that you have the skills they’re looking for. Find opportunities to expand your leadership skills both inside and outside of work, ask others for feedback about your strengths and abilities, and craft impactful resume content that will catch the eye of employers and get your resume moved to the “yes” pile.