Talking about leadership — Joyce’s Career Tip of the Week

Along with team and communication skills, leadership is another quality that is highly sought by recruiters and managers who hire interns and new college graduates. Through my conversations with student job seekers who are writing résumés and preparing for interviews, I’ve noticed a few common misconceptions.

Some think that simply putting the title of an office held is sufficient. The belief is “that shows leadership.” Well, it shows that you were willing to assume a greater level of responsibility — and that is admirable. However, the title alone does not tell the reader how well you did the job. Consequently, the question remains: Are you an effective leader?

Other students tell me that they “have no leadership experience” because they’ve never held an office nor had a job where they supervised others. That line of reasoning is frequently inaccurate.

My favorite definition of leadership is “getting things done through the work of others.” (I picked that one up a long time ago and have no idea of the source.) Being a leader involves listening, encouraging, motivating, directing, explaining, negotiating, monitoring, delegating and more.

Years ago, a campus recruiter told me that he is always looking to hire leaders. Rather than hire “one shining star,” he focuses on finding those who make the team stronger because of the impact they have on others.

Take some time to reflect on how you interact with others. Consider class projects, student organizations, employment, volunteering, and other settings where you are doing something in a group. Identify the times that you made an impact on others and their work resulted in a positive outcome for everyone.

Leaders have different styles. Some are outgoing and dynamic, while others can be laid back and reserved, but no less effective. What is your style? What are some of your accomplishments? Can you create a résumé bullet that shows how you led a group to achieve results? Select a story or two that you can tell in an interview when asked to “Tell me about a time that you used leadership skills to reach a goal.”

What I have found is that Fulton Schools students usually have both leadership ability and experience; however, the résumé and interview star stories need to be stronger … and your career center is here to help you!


Joyce Donahue is a career counselor in the Fulton Schools Career Center. She is a nationally certified career counselor and holds “Master Career Counselor” membership status in the National Career Development Association.