Leadership Skills for Job Seekers: How to Showcase Your Strengths
Let’s talk about leadership skills for job seekers. Don’t feel like reading? Listen here!
As a job seeker, you know leadership skills matter in the workplace. You don’t want to work for a manager who is a poor leader, do you? Of course not.
All job seekers look for outstanding leadership in prospective employers. But job seekers must also keep in mind employers are looking for potential leaders when screening candidates during the hiring process.
Leadership is part of career readiness. It’s a solid soft skill almost all employers prioritize when hiring candidates. Even if the employer doesn’t expect you to manage other employees, the organization will appreciate that you have that potential. Employees with exceptional leadership skills move the organization forward in a positive manner.
Do you have impressive leadership skills, and are you clearly demonstrating those skills to potential employers?
Outstanding Leadership Skills for Job Seekers
We know strong leadership matters in workplaces of all kinds.
Whether you work remotely for a large corporation, in a traditional setting as an educator or healthcare employee, or a hybrid setting for a nonprofit organization, your leaders set the tone and pace for the organization.
Companies and organizations rarely flourish if managed by poor leaders. They may achieve some goals and look like they’re faring well. However, without effective leadership, organizations will never reach their full potential. In most cases, they won’t fulfill their mission as well (if at all). Morale will suffer. And most employees will struggle to feel committed and interested as a result.
On the flip side, when accomplished leaders head up organizations, those organizations fulfill their missions daily. The leaders prevent conflict and encourage harmony. Employees find themselves more productive and motivated to perform well. In addition, content employees serve as remarkable branding tools, attracting quality candidates who also want to work for great leaders.
If you’re a job seeker, you’ll want to look for the latter when you’re interviewing for jobs. Here are some other indicators of great leadership to look for in hiring managers or your potential future boss.
- Has a clear vision or is forward-thinking
- Fosters positivity
- Listens well
- Encourages open communication
- Does not operate in isolation; creates a collaborative environment
- Knows when to ask for help
- Remains humble regardless of accomplishments
4 Ways to Showcase Leadership Skills for Job Seekers During the Job Search
As a job seeker, it’s absolutely essential to seek great leadership when you’re looking for a new job. But don’t forget to build your own leadership skills.
Once you’ve developed leadership skills, be intentional about demonstrating them during your job search process. If you aren’t purposeful about conveying your skills in your resume, cover letter, and interview, the employer may never recognize you as a promising leader within their organization.
Don’t wait for the employer to ask you about your leadership skills, either. Work to demonstrate them in what you say and how you behave. Here are four ways you can do that.
Listen More Than You Talk
This is one strong indicator of an effective leader. Be sure you demonstrate it yourself during your next job interview.
The more you patiently and mindfully listen, the more you’ll truly hear what the employer is asking or sharing. The more you hear, the more easily you can prepare a thoughtful response.
Keep in mind your non-verbal cues will give you away if your mind is racing, or if you’re planning your next remark. Work to keep your body still. Use positive facial expressions and practice being mindful of your facial expressions in everyday life (this makes it easier to manage during the interview process).
Also, remember a key reason employers want to know if you can listen well. They need to hire people who are teachable or willing to learn. Excellent leaders are teachable people. If you are constantly talking, how can you accept any feedback or instruction?
Expert leaders listen without interrupting and work to formulate thoughtful responses which are emotionally intelligent. If you do nothing else, this one behavior will indicate you may have leadership skills.
If you’re asked “Tell me about a time when you demonstrated leadership skills”, share at least one specific example. Avoid speaking in abstract terms.
Aside from the word “leadership,” you should share only a concrete example of a time when you led other people through a process. You can tell about a time when you led a group of volunteers to raise money for an organization. You could discuss how you steered a group of students or coworkers who were disgruntled and burnt out to become more passionate and productive.
Whatever example you choose, be thoughtful about how you respond.
You can use the notable STAR Method to organize your response. Or you can simplify that and focus on briefly describing the problem, sharing a few specific actions you took, and finally, describing the outcome.
Choose to share an example that has a happy ending if possible. You want the employer to know you’re capable of guiding people to greater collaboration, not that you’ll spend weeks attempting to unify people who ultimately give up.
Keep the Big Picture in Mind
It’s easy, when responding to targeted interview questions about leadership skills for job seekers, to think only about your next response. Don’t do that.
Remember two things about your job interview in relation to leadership skills.
First, the employer is not just looking for the next entry-level engineer.
The employer is hopefully seeking to hire someone who can grow into an organizational leader over time. You’re making first impressions which last and may determine future promotions.
Secondly, remember to think outside the box when responding to questions about your leadership skills. You don’t have to focus solely on the workplace. Examples about volunteer work, classroom settings, and extracurricular groups are just as valuable.
Display Confidence and Humility
Wait a minute, you may be thinking. Aren’t these polar opposites?
Think of confidence and humility as two sides of the leadership coin. You need both to demonstrate you’re capable of leading others well.
You can display confidence by paying attention to non-verbal cues. Don’t look at the floor or stick your hands in your pockets. Keep your chin up, smile, and attempt to respond to questions without hemming and hawing.
You can also display confidence by asking thoughtful, bold questions. Just be careful that you don’t seem intrusive and cocky. Confidence is one thing; a gigantic ego is another.
As for humility, remember to listen well and avoid interruptions. Also, ask others about themselves. Almost every single professional loves to tell others why they chose their career path or how they achieved success. Showing an interest in others demonstrates great humility and kindness.
Don’t forget to seize opportunities to serve. If you pass someone in the hallway on the way to your interview, open the door for that person. If you see the interviewer carrying a load of papers, offer to help. Don’t behave as if you’re the guest of honor simply because you have arrived for a job interview. Show some gratitude.
What If You Lack Leadership Experience?
What if you don’t have specific experience as a leader or manager? No worries. No one expects all job seekers to be exemplary leaders.
Think about the attributes and soft skills you already have which indicate leadership skills for job seekers. Give examples of how you demonstrate those. It’s okay to be honest and admit you’ve never led a group of people. But follow up by stating that you’re ready to, and explain how you can use your existing skill set to grow as a leader.
Most employers want to hire teachable, humble candidates with great potential and willingness to learn, grow, and apply themselves. And guess what? These are the qualities great leaders possess.
If you persistently demonstrate attributes of a great leader, your skills and behavior will speak for themselves and land you a great new job.