Do's & Don'ts For Writing A More Authentic Leadership Resume

Writing a resume that targets leadership roles can be challenging even if you have a solid management career. Too many leadership resumes are lengthy with content that makes your goals, values, and experience unclear.

Authenticity in your leadership resume will differentiate you from the candidates who use outdated, formal templates or wordy content that doesn’t present their leadership skills in the most advantageous way. Your leadership resume can stand out simply by focusing on authenticity.

We answer the most common questions asked by candidates struggling to write an effective and authentic leadership or management resume.

Do's & Don'ts For Writing A More Authentic Leadership Resume | Off The Clock Resumes

Q. What does a leadership or management resume look like?

A. Don’t Pick An Outdated Template

You don’t need a resume template with borders, text boxes, and bold graphic headers to create a professional resume. Most of the resume templates advertised for managers or executives are outdated. In fact, most resume templates are not designed to pass Applicant Tracking software that most mid-sized and large corporations are using to find a candidate like you.


A. Do Create An ATS-Approved Document

Start with a clean Word document. Avoid adding columns or tables which may organize your information more tightly but will not be read correctly by employer software. Keep any important details such as your contact information out of headers or footers as well.

Center, increase the font size, and add conservative color to your section headings for a more modern, ATS-approved resume design.


Q. How long should a leadership or management resume be?

A. Don’t Focus On Length

If you have 10+ years of management experience with one company, then a one-page resume highlighting your accomplishments and leadership skills may be all you need. There is no rule dictating that a manager or executive needs a 3-5 page resume. Frankly, longer resumes are less likely to be read in detail.


A. Do Focus On Qualifications

If the leadership role that you are pursuing is looking for 5-8 years of experience, there’s no need to detail a career spanning 20+ years. Unless specifically indicated in the Qualifications, adding older experience may imply that you are overqualified. Depending on your industry, that experience may be considered irrelevant or outdated as well.

Rather than focusing on the length of your resume, focus on creating a resume that meets the Qualifications listed in the job posting.

Q. How many years of experience should a leadership or management resume cover?

A. Don’t Negatively Age Yourself

If your leadership experience began prior to 2000, your resume can easily age you if those years are listed. Age discrimination is an issue that many qualified leaders struggle to overcome. Your resume should focus on your last 10-15 years unless otherwise indicated in the Qualifications of a job posting.


A. Do Show Off Your Recent Achievements

Recruiters and HR professionals spend an average of 15 seconds scanning a resume before deciding whether or not to schedule an interview with that candidate. Since leadership resumes are often reviewed by a Board of Directors or Executive, your resume may have even less time to make an impact on a busy decision maker.

The most effective leadership resume with highlight your most recent achievements on the first page.


Q. What is the most common mistake when creating an authentic leadership or management resume?

A. Don’t Use Industry Jargon

If you have been in the industry for years, industry jargon may be like a native language to you. Industry jargon or terminology unique to a company will make your resume difficult to read by a Board member. If your reader has to guess what you are trying to say, they will likely move on.


A. Do Use Concise Statements

Effective communication skills will be essential in creating an authentic resume. Using concise statements that identify your skills, highlight your achievements, and express your goals will be more effective than using industry jargon or wordiness.

An authentic resume is easy to read with statements that are understandable.


Q. What should my primary goal be when creating an authentic leadership or management resume?

A. Don’t Bore Your Reader

Your goal for your resume may be to stand out, but it should be to present yourself in the most advantageous way. Boring your reader with monotonous or repetitive job summaries may be your downfall.


A. Do Engage Your Reader

Engage your reader by creating a results-oriented resume that alternates between paragraph summaries and bullet lists to draw attention to important details such as achievements or related skills in action. Using action words to replace passive phrases is another approach to make your resume content more engaging to read.

To create an authentic leadership resume that stands out, tell your unique story and describe how your leadership strengths have evolved throughout your career.

Remove any industry jargon or terminology unique to your previous employers from your resume, and ensure that your resume's content clearly presents your goals and strengths.