Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Your Resume Leadership Advantage

Picture this: you are tasked with interviewing new college graduates for work in a “fast-track” manager training program. The job requires participants to work in each functional area of the company then be assigned to a position in operations. Most candidates are the “cream of the crop” with impressive academic credentials from top business schools. Each of them spent time abroad studying or traveling. They have excellent grades, a fine resume, speak intelligently, and present themselves with aplomb. But one of the candidates is different from the others. He had “B” –level grades in college, went to a well-known but smaller university, and was employed full-time as a parking lot supervisor for a downtown professional sports stadium while attending school. He worked many nights and weekends, and had responsibility for hiring/managing as many as sixty people. On the strength of the information in this true story, should he be considered for the job?

These days, most graduates from top business schools come with a great education, are well-versed in management theory and are current on business best practices. But one thing they sometimes do not to have is experience leading/managing people. Being able to exercise judgment and accomplish results through others is key. John Maxwell, noted management consultant and expert on leadership said “
Most people who want to get ahead do it backward. They think, 'I'll get a bigger job, then I'll learn how to be a leader.' But showing leadership skill is how you get the bigger job in the first place. Leadership isn't a position, it's a process.

Organizations formerly offered entry-level positions with career tracks to higher management. However, many “flattened” organizations of today have removed these foundational entry level positions. New graduates are hired directly into management or supervisory positions and must learn leadership skills the hard way. Such learning may come at the expense of their direct reports and/or organization in which they work.

Job candidates with leadership skills would do well to repeatedly bring such experience to light on their resume. If they do lack some knowledge of theory but are steeped in real world management experience coupled with the ability to learn, they offer a valuable commodity. A good result achieved through the excellent organizing, managing and leading of people provides the candidate something to talk about and be proud of. When properly done, highlighting of these skills can provide a competitive tipping point over other candidates. Whether from job history, military service or volunteerism, leadership skill and ability are worth tasteful emphasis on resumes and in job interviews.

What happened with the job candidate mentioned at the top of this article? After much discussion, the organization decided to take a chance and hire him into the management program. He thrived. Later, he became a valued leader in the supply chain and said that his people “made me look good.” In reality, he already knew how to manage and motivate people, while the rest he learned.

No comments: