There’s a big difference between knowing you can function at a higher level and convincing others that you can. So many professionals waste months or even years hunting for a better role, trotting out the same tired old resume and interview responses only to throw their hands up in the air when it doesn’t work.
The game isn’t rigged. The problem is that you’re unwilling to play it!
Whatever your target role is, you need to look to the world like you’ve already been operating at this level for many years. That’s the real challenge—to embody that future version of yourself. There can’t be any chinks in the armor. Otherwise, you’ll end up defending your image instead of closing offers.
3 Resume Hacks for Applying to Leadership Roles
1. Capture their attention.
Own the top half of the first page of your resume. Don’t waste a second talking about your “objective”—no one cares about that because it doesn’t affect them personally. Instead, crystallize the urgent message that drives you. Then, frame the 5-6 ways you make a necessary, company-wide impact.
Remember, an employer won’t appreciate the value of your skills if you don’t give them context. Make sure readers understand your overall impact before you start getting into the nuts and bolts.
2. Reinforce your mission with every job summary.
Every major position you highlight within the resume should expand upon the core ideas you covered at the top of the first page. Keep returning to that mission and demonstrate how your journey gives you a singular vantage point.
For example, if you’re a marketing executive rivaling a “new guard” that exclusively focuses on digital, show in your resume the unparalleled merits of a holistic approach. This is how you can turn a perceived weakness into a strength—by reclaiming it as an asset.
3. Curate your brand and public persona.
Sweep your branding material, including your resume and social media pages, for information about old entry-level positions and internships. These older positions don’t add to your credibility, so you can remove them.
You also need to have a central focus to connect your experiences. Make sure your recommendations and endorsements on LinkedIn align with your current aspirations and don’t sprawl across a wide range of skill sets or industries.
3 Powerful Gestures That Make You Seem Like a High-Level Leader During a Job Interview
1. Define a clear mission.
Questions like, “Why do you want this job?” and “What’s your greatest failure?” are futile exercises without much relevance. Once you get to a certain level, people stop asking these stock interview questions. Instead, they address what’s urgent.
If you’re serious about scoring a high-level role, move the focus away from the generic and into the realm of purpose-driven conversations. Control the dialogue to demonstrate why you’re the only person who can do the job. This is how you express meaningful value instead of fading into an abstraction.
2. Take 50/50 accountability for a productive correspondence.
Enter any hiring situation like you’re co-leading the interview.
Never start by sliding over a copy of your resume—this puts your experience under scrutiny and underscores your need for their approval. Instead, describe a problem with the company’s strategy and how you can solve it.
After the first interview, continue the same thread of conversation. Propose strategies for advancing with every interaction, whether it takes place via email, phone call, or a subsequent interview. When you have a targeted and specific agenda, you create a sense of urgency and don’t need to use weak opening lines like, “Just wanted to follow up…” It helps establish a sense of reciprocity.
When you have multiple irons in the fire, apply pressure to the situation. You don’t have to treat the interview as a hard-nosed negotiator—be genuine about wanting to pursue a mutually beneficial partnership with the employer. Be upfront because you respect each other’s time.
3. Craft stories instead of summarizing your work.
The art of self-promotion is to never tell someone what you do. Instead, craft stories that let the listener formulate their own ideas about your work.
Outline a mix of high-level “core stories” that epitomize your journey. These can be roughly grouped into four categories:
- Leadership: Demonstrate your ability to take initiatives and inspire others.
- Macro, AKA the “Bird’s Eye View”: Outline the large-scale changes you made from the concept stage onward.
- Micro: Drill down on a narrow, detailed summary of how you achieved professional milestones.
- Character-Building: Build rapport and reveal essential aspects of who you are and the mission you serve. These stories can be taken from every aspect of your life, not just your profession.
Once you have these narratives outlined, pepper them into your interview responses to make the discussion more engaging and personable. Using a compelling and relatable narrative is one of the fastest ways to convert someone into your tribe.
Learn more about applying to “stretch” roles above your current station.