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Showing Leadership On Your Resume


Ivy Exec’s Sr. Resume Specialist Staci Collins explains how carefully chosen words and focusing on the solution, not the problem, are the keys to getting the interview and Showing Evidence of Leadership & People Skills on Your Resume:

Adding proof of Leadership & People skills into your resume, while of crucial importance, can be some of the trickiest bullets. First, it’s often hard to quantify people results.  Not every intervention results in a promotion, performance grade improvement, increased returns, etc.  But even when they do, because the challenges… Because the challenges are individual or team, not market, cost, or process, it can be hard to find words that do justice to the result without “throwing someone under the bus”.  You throw your last company under the bus, and I, your new potential employer, imagine you’ll do it to me as well.

So, no one wants to write that his or her last boss threw screaming tantrums in front of clients, or reamed out team members with customers in the room, or was so involved in politics that they ignored operations. Avoid saying that the team couldn’t stop fighting, or the project was weeks or months behind and needed to be turned-around fast and cheap so as not to lose a key client and revenue stream.

And yet, every behavioral interview asks a version of “Tell me about a time when you resolved a team, client, or boss conflict.”  Having a well-worded statement of such on your resume may just win you the interview.  But if you’re not careful, it could lose it as well.

One way to address these things discreetly is of course to focus more on the solution than the problem…”Turned-around team” …and in my resume writing I make sure to use gentler words for problem descriptions: “Under-performing” rather than “poor-performing” or “failed”.  Also, choose the right competency verb “Coached”, “counseled”, “negotiated”, “mediated”, “Facilitated”, “Resolved”.

But the big bang is in the well-told story that’s respectful, but authentic; making these problems appear smaller with compassion & competence, since most of us realize we have some interpersonal issues (who me? Never).  By handling previous interpersonal snafu’s with skill and compassion, you assure me that you’ll do the same should I hire you.

For a “Before and After” Ivy Exec resume re-write that focused on highlighting leadership skills,           check out John Mertz – Technology

To learn more about working one-on-one with Staci on your resume or inquire about Ivy Exec’s resume writing options, please email: or visit

About the Author

Staci has over 15 years of experience partnering with managers at all levels in High Technology, Management Consulting and Healthcare Management to build their careers via career strategy, career assessment and selection, brand identification, PAR development and mapping, and strategic resume and cover letter development.