How to Emphasize Leadership Skills on Your Resume

By Laura Garbers

Updated Over a Week Ago

Minute Read

Creating a resume is never an easy process as you need to show your best skills and qualifications for the recruiters to say, “Welcome to the team.” While you may not have issues listing your former jobs and educational background, you’ll likely find it challenging to describe leadership skills on a resume.

“Is it even necessary?” you’d ask. Well, any business environment needs effective leaders, even if we’re talking about non-managerial positions. A good headhunter will always notice leadership traits in a resume.

So what are some leadership skills to put on a resume, and how can you list them? And what do you need to write for the recipient to recognize a leader in you?

Leadership Skills to Put on a Resume

The first thing that comes to mind when you think about how to describe leadership skills on a resume is what can be considered as such. According to S. Gullies’ study of leaders around the globe, leadership competencies can be divided into five categories:

  • Strong ethics and safety: having high ethical and moral standards, clearly communicating expectations
  • Self-organizing: setting goals/objectives without micromanaging the process
  • Efficient learning: flexible with changing opinions, openness to new ideas and approaches, creating a safe trial and error environment.
  • Growth nurturing: commitment to ongoing training, dedication to creating the next generation of leaders
  • Connection and belonging: communicating openly, sharing wins and failures.

While these are undeniably the ultimate leadership skills for an employee, the question here is how to put leadership skills on a resume and prove to the recruiter you are a team player who can lead.

How to Say You Have Leadership Skills on a Resume

They say actions speak louder than words, and in the case of writing your leadership skills on a resume, it has as much sense. The thing is, recruiters are less receptive to adjectives than to action verbs. And they love to see the results as it is a small preview of what the company should expect from having you onboard. The tips below will explain how to describe leadership skills on a resume in the most efficient way.

Focus on Actions and Results

Adding the phrase “Strong leadership skills” alone to your CV has no meaning for a savvy recruiter. Your task is not to make an impersonal statement that people should take as a fact but to describe a situation that will speak for you.

For instance, you can keep this phrase and add a few examples: supervised and mentored new employees, participated in creating a training program, organized open discussions concerning projects, etc.

Add Relevant Power Phrases

Leadership skills on a resume are only visible if one uses the right words and expressions to make them noticeable. While there are a lot of examples of skills to include in your resume, we’d like to make a few suggestions:

  • Use action verbs. Mentioning that you were “responsible for something” doesn’t have the same impact as “Organized and oversaw”. The more action verbs you use in your resume, the more vivid a picture recruiters will have about your leadership.
  • Write specifically. Generic is cliche, vague is inappropriate, and having both in one CV is a huge resume mistake. Be as detailed as possible. 

Emphasize Team Roles

Many think leadership is about you, but it’s about your team. An effective leader is never someone operates as a lone ranger. They’re the one who knows how to organize a team, and makes everyone a star of the project.

When you say, “Developed and supervised the project,” it speaks about your contribution to the project. But when you frame it as, “Assigned a team with objectives after having brainstorming sessions,” it will show how you make the decisions and delegate the tasks.

What to Write if You Don’t Have Enough Leadership Experience?

You know how to show leadership skills on a resume when you have some experience as a leader. But what if you have none or not enough? You can mention that you’ve participated in leadership sessions and team-building activities, which gives the reader an understanding that you know how important it is for a working environment.

You can mention your part as a leader during your college years or work as a volunteer in your community. The thing is, your leadership skills may not only be visible in business. And a good leader is always looking for ways to master one’s leadership skills.

It’s not easy to show the world you are the one who can lead, mentor, advise, and supervise.

However, adding specific examples of how you did that in the past and showing your commitment to organizing the best teamwork is exactly what makes you stand out. After all, leadership is not about how great you are; it’s about what you do to make others great.

How Can Words Showcase Your Leadership in Your Resume?

If you have ideas you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Laura Garbers
Laura Garbers
Laura Garbers is an HR advisor at CraftResumes who organizes leadership sessions for the team. She is currently working on the study about the change of leadership roles due to the pandemic and how to maintain effective teamwork remotely.
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