How to Move Up the Ladder When You Don’t Have Leadership Experience

The phrase “moving up the corporate ladder” should more accurately be rephrased “moving up the corporate pyramid.” Let’s face it – there are fewer roles at the top than in the middle and certainly at the bottom, which is in part what makes competition for management roles so fierce.

Whether moving from individual contributor to entry-level management or from a junior manager role to a senior leadership position, your resume MUST communicate you have the experience, skills and are up to the challenges of that next-level role.

So how should you go about writing a resume that convinces employers you can do the job when you don’t have the exact experience?

Strategy v. Tactics

When you transition to management you are doing less executing and more planning or strategizing. Readers want to know if and how closely you were involved in crafting strategy.

Were you part of a team whose opinion was sought after for creating a strategy? Did you help to improve a process or make a system more efficient?

Taking these initiatives show strategic insight – and indicate you are more than just a worker bee who executes on strategy. Outline these examples to show you have what it takes to be a strategic thinker.

Accomplishments v. Responsibilities

An ability to show what you’ve accomplished versus a laundry list of your job responsibilities indicates you have the drive and more importantly, potential, for that next-level leadership role.

Ask yourself what you are proudest of from each role. Think about how it fixed a problem or helped a company or its leadership to further its vision, mission and/or revenue goals.

Listing accomplishments and tying them back to a company’s bottom-line objectives shows the reader you not only understand impactful problems but are willing to take the initiative to solve them.

Dotted Line v. Formal Management

Just because you don’t have any direct reports doesn’t mean you haven’t led.

Did you ever motivate, mentor, train or play a leading role on a team? Were in charge of leading a project or a process? Perhaps you are sought after by leadership for your level of expertise in a particular arena?

These are examples of dotted line leadership and illustrate to the reader your potential for formalized leadership.

Demonstrate You Can Solve a Potential Employer’s Problems

At the end of the day, readers want reassurance you can handle a role’s responsibilities and solve problems that lie ahead.

A compelling resume that demonstrates your initiative, accomplishments and strategic insight is key to persuading a hiring manager that you are more than ready to take the plunge into management, or catapult to that next level of leadership.