How to Project Leadership Qualities in Resumes and Interviews

How to Project Leadership Qualities in Resumes and Interviews

by Melanie Pearson, Client Service Manager, Acclivity Healthcare

Whether you are applying to be a leader for your organization or just want to position yourself as a leader for future growth opportunities, it is important that every interaction you have with your current, or potential employer showcases your leadership skills. Hiring managers are often trying to fill management and other leadership roles, so appearing qualified on your resume is your first step to getting an interview, and demonstrating your skills in the interview will help set you apart from the crowd.

Projecting leadership qualities in your resume

Because your resume is often your first introduction to the company, your primary goal should be showing that you are a qualified fit for the job opening and providing enough information so the hiring manager wants to bring you in for an interview. To have the best chance of landing that interview for a leadership role:

  • Tailor your resume for the specific management or leadership opening. Never fabricate information, but when you can position your experience, education and expertise in a way that makes them relevant for the opening, you will have a better shot of rising to the top of the pile. For example, if you took a leadership course in a different industry, it’s OK to reference the course generally on your resume without getting into the specific industry differences. When it comes to leadership, the principles tend to be the same, or very similar, across industries.
  • When highlighting your experience, start with and use strong verbs that really demonstrate your achievements in your current or previous jobs. Starting with words like “Led”, “Spearheaded” or “Managed” will make a better impression than “Was part of…”, “Had a role in…” or “My team…” Don’t overstate your accomplishments, but make sure you position those accomplishments in the best light.

Projecting leadership qualities in your interview

If you landed an interview for the job, congratulations! Here are some tips to help you project an air of confidence and leadership in your interview:

  • Your interview starts before you even open your mouth, so dress appropriately for the job. For a leadership role in many companies, this means wearing a business suit and projecting a professional image from the moment you step through the door.
  • The interview is your opportunity to expand on what was in your resume, so be prepared to speak and offer details about why you are the best candidate for the leadership role. Memorize every component of your resume, and mentally prepare to answer and expand on that information.
  • Discuss times when you have had to lead a team, and how you handled various situations.
  • Make sure you can speak the language; if you are applying for a leadership role in a specialized industry that uses a lot of acronyms, make sure you know what those acronyms mean and can use them appropriately.
  • Don’t try to sound impressive by throwing around a big vocabulary. You will demonstrate that you are a leader more by speaking plainly, clearly and intelligently in response to the interviewer’s questions.
  • Regardless of how you think the interview went, send thank-you notes to your interviewers after the fact, thanking them for their time and emphasizing why your experience, education and expertise make you the best fit for the leadership role.

Putting your best foot forward in your resume and in your interview, and being straightforward and forthcoming in all of your interactions, will put you in the best position to be considered for the leadership role that is the best fit for you.