LEADERSHIP CONVERSATIONS COLUMN: The Secret to a Successful Leadership Resume

Alan Berson, Author, Leadership Conversations

Alan Berson, Author, Leadership Conversations

Common Taking Action Challenge: 

A headhunter or colleague calls to tell you about your ‘perfect’ new job. You want to move from a management to a leadership position or to a higher level of leadership. As you send out the resume you pulled up on your computer, quickly updated from a previous version, is it paving the way for you to be considered or removing you from contention? Are you prepared to speak ‘leadership’ when you get the interview? Discussions with scores of mid-level to senior executives suggest you are not.

The Solution:

Demonstrate the leadership mindset. (See page 12 in LEADERSHIP CONVERSATIONS) Look carefully and critically at your resume to ensure that you approach the headhunter or company in a transformational way. You can’t just show larger numbers (more people on your team, higher revenue or profit); you have to highlight your evolving role in reaching these numbers.

  • The Independent Contributor speaks to the tasks individually completed and the speed at which they were accomplished. This shows competence and reliability.
  • The Manager writes about rallying others to produce team results by overseeing the process, hiring great employees and motivating successfully. They show that they can delegate and build teams capable of large scale execution. They assure a prospective employer that even larger projects involving more people will be accomplished on time and within budget. They display an ability to focus on multiple teams (including some that are outside their area of technical expertise) and getting people to work together productively.
  • The Leader must convey a very different message, not just one that looks like a manager with larger dollar signs. Leaders perform a fundamentally different job. You must speak to the vision you crafted with the team, the ways you got your people to do more than they ever thought they could, and how the knowledge developed resulted in greater success than had been believed possible. (Hint: If this concept is foreign to you, you might not be ready for the position and will be one of the 50% who derail after receiving a major promotion.) You create your organization’s future and are not held back by problems, lack of resources, inadequate relationships, or a narrow focus on the short-term.

The Thought Process:

The new prospective boss must clearly perceive that you deserve the increase in pay, scope and responsibility because you will concentrate on the right activities and be both visionary and connect and align with all of those who add to your success. Prove that you are strategic, can leverage the efforts of an entire organization, and routinely engage large stakeholder groups, build trusted relationships, and create new opportunities that are worth securing new resources. Finally, show you will keep the entire organization’s needs in mind rather than staying solely within a functional silo.

Now you will get that job!

Think differently to act more powerfully!

Related: Make Decisions with Confidence and 7 Top Leadership Tips of 2013!.

Alan Berson is an author, keynote speaker, executive coach, Learning Director at Wharton Executive Education and the CEO of Leadership Conversation LLC based in Potomac, MD. His recent book, LEADERSHIP CONVERSATIONS: Challenging High-Potential Managers to Become Great Leaders, was released by Jossey-Bass in March of this year and was named as one of the top 10 management/leadership books by Amazon.com. An extensive review can be found at Knowledge@Wharton.



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