Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Adding Leadership to your Resume

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

How to make yourself the de facto leader on any project has a few tips for taking on leadership roles at work. However, if you are out-of-work at the moment, suggestions like “Offer an Agenda” don’t seem particularly relevant. How do you add leadership experience to your resume when you are between jobs?

My advice is to find a local professional or networking organization, and start taking an active role. I have been particularly impressed with the individuals I have met who have organized, or who have taken on additional responsibilities for, groups like the Philadelphia Standards Organization, WordCamp Birmingham, and TechMixer University. These three organizations/events really display a broad range: from small, informal meetings with occasional lectures, to large conferences with 400+ participants and corporate sponsors.

If there aren’t any organizations that suit your profession, consider starting an orgnaization. It can be as simple as setting up monthly meetings at a coffee house or even a (preferably quiet) bar. Sites like can help you organize a group, Upcoming can help you publicize events, Eventbrite can help you manage registration (if you can accommodate a limited number of guests), and Google Groups can provide an online discussion forum to keep communication open between meetings.

Leadership roles are not restricted to your profession: you can pick up leadership experience anywhere. I know a lot of people who have gained valuable experience through religious groups or social organizations. A couple other examples from my experience:

  • In 1998, a friend and I organized Quick Novel, an event at which a handful of authors collaborated to produce a novel in a single day. Although the result was not high literature, the ability to pull it off at all required organization, team-building, scheduling, and finding and securing a location with sufficient computer workstations for all the authors.
  • In 2002, 2 friends of mine organized an art show at a local gallery space, titled Immedia Des Refuses. Again, my friends had to secure a space, curate the show, publicize the event, and provide hors d’oeuvres and beverages. The event was a great success, thanks to their great efforts, and as a result they were seen as leaders in the local art community.
  • Just last week, the neighborhood association in my community sponsored a showing of The Little Shop of Horrors in a local park. The organizers had to secure permits, raise funds, contract with a company that could provide the required screen, projection equipment, and sound system, publicize the event.

I think 2 things become clear from these examples:

  1. You can develop your leadership skills in almost any area you can imagine
  2. Leadership is primarily initiative and effort, with a strong dose of coalition-building

Think about it from an employer’s perspective: do you want to hire a complacent employee who waits to follow others into action, or do you want someone dynamic who will initiate action?