3 Secrets to a Leadership Resume That Earns a Promotion

by Laura SmithProulx | July 30, 2013

Moved up to a new level at your employer, but without the executive title to match?

To win a promotion while hunting for your next role, you'll need to prove leadership abilities - compelling employers to consider you for that next step on the career ladder.

This scenario can be challenging to address within the confines of a leadership resume. Are you stuck listing your job as Manager when you're really a Director?

What if you're actually a Senior Program Manager, but have never had a formal promotion? Do you have to settle for Controller when you perform the job of the CFO?

Of course, you'll need to be truthful, while conveying your capabilities at the right level for the job you want. Here are 3 strategies for writing your leadership resume for a coveted promotion - even if you're lacking the title that reflects your abilities:

1 - Title your resume appropriately for the next level.

A resume title, which is often used as a heading to introduce your objective, serves as a signal to employers that you're pursuing a promotion. In addition, you can use a descriptive headline, or tagline, in the opening sequence that strengthens your case.

For example, a Senior Vice President of can direct employer attention to the goal of a CIO position by titling the resume with "Chief Information Officer." Adding a tagline such as "Collaborative Executive Leader and Business Partner" helps reinforce the message.

If you are openly pursuing a next-level career step that isn't obvious from your current job title, you could interject "Career Goal: SVP of Sales" to ensure your intention is clear.

Naturally, the remaining space on your leadership resume must be dedicated to showing executive-scale achievements.

2 - Describe the leadership skills you've already demonstrated.

Within the body of your leadership resume, you can add a phrase that helps employers understand the level of authority you've held, and how this is related to your credentials at the next level.

As an example, a COO resume could list the phrase "COO-Level Authority for All Manufacturing Production" right underneath the current job title - pointing out the fact that the candidate already holds the same level of authority as most Chief Operating Officers.

If you're already serving as a member of the executive team, or as a direct report to the CEO, you'll want to reinforce the idea that you're already functioning as a key corporate leader. Therefore, be sure to add these duties to your resume (in a prominent spot).

No matter your level, demonstrating that you've played an important part in strategic meetings or worked alongside other executives shows that your contributions are critical to the bottom line - and therefore above your current pay grade.

3 - Alter your section headings to reflect your goal.

Like any marketing message, your leadership resume must repeat critical information to reinforce a message of brand value.

One of the best ways to do so is by changing the traditional "Summary of Achievements" heading to "Examples of Financial Leadership" or "IT Executive Qualifications in Action."

When you use section headings with the word "Leadership," "Executive," or "Management" to title your career accomplishments, you're immediately pointing out examples of next-level capabilities.

Of course, you'll want to add specific examples (complete with metrics and a description of the challenges you've faced) in this section of your resume.

The bottom line?

Giving yourself a descriptive boost on your leadership resume can help employers realize how well-positioned you are for a promotion.

It also sends a strong message of your ability to handle the scope of leadership authority they'll require from you at the next level.

About Laura SmithProulx

Award-winning executive resume writer Laura Smith-Proulx is a former recruiter who partners with CIO, COO, CEO, CFO, SVP, VP, and Director-level candidates to win top jobs using personal branding techniques. The Executive Director of An Expert Resume (http://www.anexpertresume.com ) and the author of "How to Get Hired Faster," she has been featured in Forbes, ComputerWorld, Wall Street Journal FINS, Chicago Tribune, CIO.com, and other media.


About Chia-Li Chien

Chia-Li Chien

Chia-Li Chien, CFP®, CRPC, PMP; Chia-Li “like JOLLY,” Succession Strategist of Value Growth Institute, dedicated to helping private business owners increase their company equity value. She is the award-winning author of the books Show Me The Money and Work toward Reward and a faculty of the American Management Association. Her blog and newsletter was named a Top Small Business Resource by the New York Times You’re the Boss blog. Contact her at jolly@chialichien.com or (704) 268-9378 .

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