Want to take on a leadership role but have yet to hold a manager title?
Eager to post for a role and the job description describes you to a T -- except for the management piece?
When it comes to jumping into a management role, your resume is an important foundational document to position yourself as someone who is primed and ready to take this next step.
For this goal, I focus on 4 key resume sections to convey the message that the candidate is more than prepared to take on a leadership role.
In those sections, I craft verbiage showing that although the job seeker may not have been officially responsible for a team, he/she has the experience necessary to lead one.
Starting from the top – these are the headline, summary, position titles and experience sections.
As an example, I’d like to use “Megan” who, after years in an individual contributor role as an IT Project Manager was looking for her next role as a Director of a Project Management Organization or PMO.
Megan had led many teams indirectly as part of project leadership – but on paper none of these resources had ever reported to her.
When Megan first reached out, her resume led off with her career experience which included titles like IT Project Manager, IT Consultant and IT Analyst.
Because her resume did not include a headline, the reader was left to their own devices to figure out the role she was targeting – and there was no way for the reader to decipher that she was targeting a PMO leadership role.
After working together, I crafted a headline that is larger in font size than the rest of the resume (a design technique to draw the reader’s eye to a specific piece of text) and leaves no doubt in the reader’s mind as to the role Megan is targeting. Here’s what it looks like:
By referring to Megan as a Senior Project/PMO Director – I’ve called attention to the types of roles she has, and can, perform. The sentence directly below the headline, known as a tagline, alludes to the professional contributions that Megan has made that align closely with her career goal.
Megan’s original resume featured a 5-line summary or branding paragraph. The challenge with the paragraph as written was that while it was clear she could lead projects it was NOT clear she could lead people – and it was certainly not evident that she had worked in a PMO.
Over 15 years of strong technical background and a track record of success in designing, building and executing strategic IT projects with multiple vendors. Expertise includes software development lifecycle management, integration, change management and business process optimization. Skilled in planning, executing and managing projects on time and on budget.
This refreshed “After” section conveys 3 additional points that did not appear in her original resume:
Job titles can vary from organization to organization, and we’ve all come across ones that do a poor job of clarifying what the role is really all about.
Because of this, I recommend editing first and foremost to provide clarity, but also to clearly show the reader how past experiences align well with a targeted role. Here’s what we did with Megan’s:
Senior Scrum Master
Senior Scrum Master – IT PMO
The revised title goes a step further by informing the reader that Megan’s role took place within a PMO environment, a point that is critical to her target as a PMO director, and that otherwise would not have been known.
These BEFORE and AFTER illustrations show the power of using minor design elements to draw the reader’s eye and show how strategic language can strengthen Megan’s case that she is more than ready to be a PMO Director.
Created roadmap from concept-to-training for IT PMO Agile transformation in partnership with Risk SVP. Led pilot that earned team’s reputation for excellence – overcoming leadership resistance and leading to use of Agile methodology embraced today as the gold standard.
In Megan’s resume, I added a short paragraph before listing bulleted accomplishments, and used bolding, blue font, and italics to quickly attract attention to 2 important points:
In the 2 bullets that followed the paragraph, I bolded the key section of each sentence and chose verbs that aligned with leadership to highlight for the reader that Megan acted in a leadership capacity when achieving her accomplishments.
By focusing on Megan's accomplishments that demonstrated her ability to lead and manage teams in challenging situations, I drew attention to her qualifications, strengths, and experience in management roles. Match this resume with a focused career-change cover letter (below), and you will greatly increase your probability of success.
Career Change Expert Virginia Franco is a 4 times Certified Executive Resume Writer, LinkedIn Writer, Coach and Career Storyteller. Her experience in corporate communications, journalism, and social work offered her a unique understanding of how people read, communicate, and share information. Connect with Virginia via her website VirginiaFrancoResumes.com, on LinkedIn, and on Twitter at @VAFrancoResumes.