Leadership Resumes Experience v. Outcomes

Leadership Resumes and Interviews: Experience v. Outcomes

by Matt Anderson

I’ve had a 20-year career in executive search. During my time placing operational leaders – from management to C-suite – I’ve learned more effective ways to help our candidates capture and elicit the interest of our clients.

It begins with a good, detailed resume. A great resume will provide three essential elements:

  • A clear outline of a candidate’s necessary and applicable experience
  • A depiction of breadth and depth of responsibility
  • The impact, outcome, and value of their efforts

Many years ago, I learned first-hand a lasting lesson from a client and informal mentor, Tom O’Connor. At the time, Tom was President of Mercy Hospital (Allina Health). We’d just completed a series of first interviews with several candidates for a Senior Operations Executive at Allina. It was during our follow-up conversation that Tom gave me a “teachable moment.”

During Tom’s initial reception, feedback, and thoughts on the candidates, he appreciated the hospital operations experience the candidates provided. But their respective interviews and resumes were lacking.

He noted how none of the candidates specifically described what they’d accomplished in their current or previous operational roles. He wanted to better understand the candidate’s experience with “the heavy lifting” of their position. A candidate’s capability should be abundantly clear, both in the resume and interview. 

He said, “I want to hear about how they’ve led initiatives and people, how they’ve implemented and executed strategy, what steps were taken in doing so, and ultimately what was the outcome and lasting impact.” 

To be generous, we could credit our candidate’s humility to their Minnesotan roots. Regardless of their midwestern humility, an interview and a resume is no place to be withholding.

Qualified candidates who want to make an impression must be able to convey:

  • Successes
  • Accomplishments
  • Recognitions
  • Detailed accounts of career highlights

Further, leaders should be able to quantify their results within a resume. As an example, in what way their leadership increased gross & net revenue, decreased spending and cost, improved employee engagement, and enhanced customer satisfaction. Don’t be shy about using actual figures and percentages to help illustrate claims. 

Lastly, an unmistakable trait of a successful leader is in their language. Consider using “we,” not “I” when describing successes and accomplishments. Remember to give credit to those that have helped in your collective success. It’s one of the best ways to convey and validate who you are as a leader. 

Are you Management or a C-suite Executive looking to make a great impression on your next interview? Get in touch with the executive recruiters at Versique. We can help guide you through the process so you can feel confident and prepared to fully present your exceptional skills and leadership to make a lasting impression! Contact us today.

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