How to Write a Resume to Move from Subject Matter Expert to People Leader
Moving from do-er to people leader can seem challenging when you haven't held the title previously. Many people will lead indirectly before they land their first management job. A great resume is key when it comes to getting the interview, and ultimately the job. Here is everything you need to know to build a resume that lands your first management job.
Think About the Future
A resume is simply a marketing piece that positions you for the job that you want. Remember that the resume should not just be a historical report on what you have done in the past. Instead, your resume should cover the details of your past in a way that honestly positions you for the future.
This also means that you won't need to include all of the details of what you have done as the subject matter expert in a particular field. Instead, that time as an SME is relevant to show that you can provide hands-on leadership to others. When you are thinking about your first management job resume, start by looking at the future and positioning yourself in that role.
Build an ATS Friendly Resume
You are also building your resume so that you get the interview for the management job. This means that you need to make sure that your resume can get through HR technology. This is true even if you are an internal candidate or someone with a strong referral. You will ultimately have to clear the HR processes to get the interview.
So, you will want a resume that is ultimately optimized for the applicant tracking systems (ATS). Over 97% of Fortune 500 companies and nearly 70% of other employers are using these systems. Although there are different ATS programs, all of them are driven by keywords and job titles.
Thus, when you are building a resume to pursue your first management job, you will need to use the right leadership keywords to get through the ATS filters. You may not have held the job title officially previously, but you likely have used a number of the leadership skills previously. So, make sure to use these skills keywords on your resume if you want to get through the resume bots.
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Focus on Your Leadership
The next step to building an effective resume to land your first management job is to focus your message on your leadership experience. This doesn't necessarily mean that you have to have held the job title in the past. Instead, you likely have had leadership experiences outside of an official management position.
These experiences can be from managing projects, teams, or initiatives. If you don't have any direct experience leading others, then focus on your personal initiative and drive for results. All of these experiences should be tied back to the future role that you are pursuing.
When writing your resume, make sure to use specific keywords related to leadership and management. You can also use phrases such as "led a team of X," "managed a project worth Y," or "drove results through Z." These phrases will help you to stand out to the hiring manager and show that you are a great leader.
Use the Right Keywords
As described above, you will want a resume that is optimized for the applicant tracking systems that use the right keywords for the leadership jobs that you are pursuing. However, you also want to make sure that your resume is tailored for the specific company that you are targeting.
Many companies will also customize their ATS programs to look for keywords that match their culture. You can find these keywords by doing some research on the company's website or job postings. Once you have identified these keywords, make sure to use them on your resume.
Not only will this help you to get through the ATS, but it will also show that you are a great fit for the company's culture and values.
Minimize the Jargon
Moving from do-er to people leader also means that a lot of the technical jargon or skills will matter less. This background will make you a better leader, but the person that leads the other people in your field won't be the one doing everything. Instead, they are focused on leading others.
In order to show that you are ready for this new role, you will want to minimize the jargon on your resume.
You can do this by using terms that are easily understood by people outside of your field and avoiding acronyms. This will help to ensure that the interviewer understands what you bring to the table and also shows that you are able to communicate with people from all backgrounds.
Provide Strong Achievements
In order to show that you are a great leader, you will want to provide strong achievement statements on your resume. These should be quantifiable and demonstrate the impact that you have made in your previous roles.
For example, if you led a team of five people, you could say something like "Successfully led a team of five people to achieve X goal."
You can also include achievements that are not related to leading others. For instance, if you increased sales by 20% in your previous role, you could say "Successfully increased sales by 20% through Y initiative."
By including these types of statements on your resume, you will be able to show that you are ready to take the next step in your career. And, these clear achievement statements will also help the person skimming your resume to quickly see how you stack up against the competition.
Convey Prior Leadership Experience
In order to move up in your career, you will want to focus your resume on your leadership experience.
This doesn't necessarily mean that you have to have held the job title in the past. Instead, you likely have had leadership experiences outside of an official management position.
These experiences can be from managing projects, teams, or budgets. You can also highlight experiences where you had to take charge and be the driving force behind a goal or outcome.
All of these experiences should be tied back to the future role that you are pursuing.
If you don't have any direct experience leading others, then focus on your personal initiative and drive for results. All of these experiences will show that you have the potential to be a great leader in the future.
Point to Volunteer Leadership
Volunteering is important to give back. But, it can also be a great way to gain skills.
Many companies look for leadership experience when hiring managers. This is because they want someone that has the skills to lead a team and get things done.
One way to show that you have these skills is to highlight your volunteer leadership experiences.
This could be from leading a charity event, being on the board of a non-profit, or even being a leader of an internal committee that gives back to the community or employees.
All of these experiences will show that you are able to take charge and be a leader when needed. And, this is exactly what companies are looking for in their next manager.
By following these tips, you will be able to write a resume that lands you your first management job. These tips focus on highlighting your skills and experiences that are relevant to the role. And, they also show that you are a great fit for the company's culture and values.
So, don't wait any longer and get started on writing your resume today! You could be one step closer to landing your dream job.
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