When employees in many office-based professions reach a certain level of success and earn consistent praise in the form of positive performance reviews, raises and promotions, they may decide to vie for an upward move into a management role.
Proven talent and measurable triumphs in your field are both highly-desirable qualities for a manager, but the supervisory and leadership-related needs of these positions aren’t easy to learn before you have hands-on experience as the head of a team or department.
And even after you’ve racked up a few years on the job, it can be tough to determine which management-specific skills will prove most deserving of a prime position on your resume and how to phrase said skills in a compelling manner.
For that reason, we’re happy to give you a breakdown of management skills, how they’re developed and how they manifest, and what language to use for describing these skills on your resume.
What are management skills and why are they important?
As their name suggests, management skills are abilities and bits of know-how developed and collected by managers to increase their leadership aptitude and their team’s productivity.
Because supervisory roles rely as much on interpersonal skills as they do on hard skills like tech fluency or a head for numbers, managers must seek to strengthen their collaborative muscles and shouldn’t underestimate the power of emotional intelligence.
Managers who hone their skills and implement them in beneficial ways often see these efforts rewarded by further promotions and higher pay rates, and supervisors who take the “mentoring” aspect of their jobs seriously will also gain the satisfaction of watching their former reports ascend their own career ladders.
The abilities gathered and exhibited by successful managers help companies grow and thrive, and they’re essential for managers (or management candidates) eager to expand beyond their own current roles and to take on new responsibilities, duties and levels of prestige.
Which management skills make the best impression on a resume?
Whether you’re a current manager hoping to make a lateral move to another company, a supervisor looking to rise into a director role, or an employee with the desire to become a manager for the first time, you’ll need to figure out the most relevant way to express your skills and experiences on your resume.
Many job-seekers include “Skills” sections on their resumes, and when we’re talking about hard skills like tech-program proficiency, fluency in a second language or industry-specific certifications, those skills can prove valuable to the hiring process. However, the "Skills" section isn’t a place for subjective terms; if you put a bullet point in that section claiming that you’re “a strong team player” or “a high achiever,” the hiring manager will wonder what evidence you have to support those statements. This proves especially true when you’re applying for a more senior role like that of a manager.
After all, anyone can add these phrases to their resume, and because hiring committees know that, these phrases won't have much of an effect on the hiring committee. Focus less on unsubstantiated adjectives and more on measurable skills that you can describe through the lens of accomplishments.
So which management skills make the most impact on prospective employers? Add these eight to your mental list (and to your physical resume):
1. The ability to gather and act on feedback from employees, clients and collaborators.
The notion that a “boss” should have all the answers and must never seek input from her colleagues or clients is a tragically-common but extremely false assumption. In fact, strong managers eagerly accept and absorb feedback and use what they learn from their reports to direct their decisions. If you want to indicate this skill on your resume, include a collaborative triumph in your list of accomplishments, like “Led a team that completed X project ahead of schedule, contributing to an earnings boost of Y% for the quarter.”
2. A focus on both the “big picture” and the day-to-day needs of the company.
In season six of “The Office,” longtime manager Michael Scott and his “second in command,” Jim Halpert, become co-managers of Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch, with Michael focusing on “big picture” matters and Jim handling day-to-day operations.
That dual-manager arrangement lasts less than half a season, however, as Dunder Mifflin leadership realizes that splitting the manager role into two parts doesn’t ultimately make sense. A manager needs to be able to take on both large-scale situations and more quotidian issues, and you can show your capacity for both sides of management on your resume by including achievements that highlight each aspect.
3. A willingness to look out for their employees’ best interests and to “fight” for them when necessary.
Above all else, employees value managers who make them feel like they're part of a functional team. In order to cultivate that energy among your team members, you as a supervisor must take actions that help both the company as a whole and your group of reports in particular. For instance, if you see an employee truly excelling, let her know!
Also, if there’s an opportunity to push for a raise or a promotion for that employee at a future point, be vocal about her impressive performance. It’s the right thing to do and the sensible thing to do, and it’s something that you can add to your resume as evidence of your mentoring skills.
4. The ability to build and cultivate trust from teammates and clients of all levels.
High-achieving managers quickly master the art of communication; they know how to express their needs, the needs of their team, and the needs of the company while also hearing and addressing concerns from coworkers and clients. In order for a manager’s constant conversations and emails to bear fruit and lead to successful initiatives and collaborations, these managers must treat the establishment of trust as a top priority.
If your resume includes accomplishments earned by your team as a whole and the completion of projects that exceeded client expectations, then you’ll be tacitly explaining to employers that you know how to build trust throughout your work sphere.
5. A keen knack for organization.
It’s certainly true that many (perhaps even most) managers have admin staff to help them keep their schedules straight and to handle the minutia of their jobs. But strong bosses also lead by example, so hiring directors cherish management candidates with an excellent track record of organizational prowess. Include accomplishments on your resume that show off your flair for dotting your Is and crossing your Ts, and you’ll be in good shape.
6. The conviction to make clear decisions and to support said choices.
Naturally, even the most experienced and steadfast of managers will change her mind about a decision on occasion. However, a long history of waffling and wavering doesn’t inspire confidence during a hiring process. This is a topic practically designed for a job interview; should you make it to the interview stage, prepare a few anecdotes that show off your ability to make a decision, communicate your expectations and achieve your goal.
7. An understanding of how and when to delegate responsibilities.
One of the truest (and one of the rarest) signs of a talented manager is the ability to spot and recruit talent. You want to come across as a manager who surrounds herself with trustworthy staffers, and your willingness to trust your team with significant responsibility indicates that you know how to build and effectively make use of a skilled cohort of employees.
8. A determination to expand the company’s reach and to come up with unique plans for business growth.
“Innovator” is a ubiquitous term these days, to the point where it often feels overused. Even so, the majority of companies want (or, at least, want to want) leaders who “think outside the box” and think up new solutions to common problems.
Of course, job applicants should be careful to balance their maverick accomplishments with a proven ability to follow instructions when necessary (while some industries — like tech — actively seek out “disruptors”, most prefer creative thinkers who can still respect boundaries).
But if you have a history of finding novel answers to departmental concerns and of putting those ideas into practice, then those accomplishments should occupy a prominent space on your resume.