As you climb the corporate ladder into senior management and the executive ranks, the hard skills on your resume (like your ability to design, sell, or use Microsoft Excel) lose some of their importance. A greater emphasis is placed on executive soft skills. These abstract instincts and abilities have been developed over the course of a career and are what make you an accountable decision maker and leader.
Demonstrating a hard skill like “training” on your resume or LinkedIn profile is relatively easy. “I trained [trainees] through [training methods] to accomplish [reason for training or post-training results].” It’s pretty straight forward and easily verified. But if a job listing mentions soft skills like drive, integrity, or passion, how do you communicate that on your resume, LinkedIn profile, or during an interview during your executive job search?
“I am passionate” doesn’t cut it.
We identified the most coveted executive soft skills by using Jobscan to analyze current executive-level job listings. Here are five of the top executive soft skills and how to showcase them during the recruitment or hiring process.
- Track Record
It’s no surprise that companies demand leadership from their new executive hires. However, being able to effectively lead a group of people is a result of a diverse blend of skills, making it tricky to show leadership on your resume. To describe a nuanced trait like leadership, be sure to provide examples and context that spotlight your abilities from different angles.
Mention and demonstrate the sub-skills most important to leadership: inspirational, integrity, problem-solving, communication, et al.
Describe the teams you managed. Answer these questions: how many people were you in charge of? What were your teams’ accomplishments? How did you contribute to or facilitate the teams’ successes?
Example: Led team of 15+ marketers to integrate global advertising campaigns with local activations. Personally built relationships and improved collaboration with Asia HQ resulting in increased budget investment in the Korean division.
Ask yourself: what situations benefited the most from your timely leadership? Guiding an organization through a difficult acquisition or finding a way to salvage a doomed project demonstrates leadership.
Example: Provided change leadership to ensure seamless acquisition of ABC Company by XYZ Company, resulting in 100% employee retention across senior and middle management teams.
“There’s nothing more demoralizing than a leader who can’t clearly articulate why we’re doing what we’re doing,” wrote James Kouzes and Barry Posner in The Leadership Challenge.
Vision is one of the key traits that separate a successful middle manager from a coveted C-suite executive. The ability to establish and communicate a clear vision facilitates innovation, attracts top talent, and cultivates employee loyalty.
When you mention your big ideas, initiatives, and accomplishments, demonstrate your vision by including the why and placing them in context of the bigger picture. This shows that you’re not only focused on ticking boxes and beating quotas, you’re invested in creating a clear roadmap for your employees and furthering the company’s mission.
You need your listed work experience to speak for itself when it comes to track record. Your resume and LinkedIn profile shouldn’t just be a diary of where and when, but a detailed booking of your greatest professional accomplishments.
By packing your resume with measurable results and accomplishments, you can prove your track record of success.
An entrepreneurial mindset is mandatory in the startup world but is also a highly valued trait for companies looking to build or shake things up. This soft skill will be easily identified if you have experience leading startups, working in venture capital, or have received formal entrepreneurial training, but it’s still possible to show it off in other ways if you don’t.
Think back to any pet projects you nurtured, departments you grew, or calculated risks that paid off big. Even if you’ve spent your career in stuffy corporate environments, these types of accomplishments will show that you possess an entrepreneurial spirit.
Example: Assembled members of product and design teams to create “ABC Company Labs,” a part-time special committee dedicated to innovation, collaboration, and R&D.
Innovation will have some crossover with vision and entrepreneurship, but should be a little easier to showcase. Compile the best examples and stories from your past experience in which you changed operating procedure, streamlined processes, consolidated systems, or mined a previously untapped sector of the market. Basically, what change were you responsible for, and how did it benefit the company?
Example: Grew new business revenue 200% over 2 years in Southwest market by employing longer sales cycles to close deals in historically challenging territory.
In an interview setting, take it up a notch by doing your research and preparing a couple innovative ideas for the company.
A corporate recruiter, hiring manager, or interviewer learns next to nothing if you simply say, “I’m a proven leader with entrepreneurial vision a track record of innovation.” Show, don’t tell. Stories and examples will give you a leg up on the competition.
Learn how to create a dedicated soft skills resume section here.
What are the most important soft skills for your resume?
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Top 50 Soft Skills for Executive Job Seekers