How to Demonstrate Leadership With Limited Experience

Leadership is a highly sought-after quality that hiring committees look for in prospective employees. Organizations want people who not only work well in teams but who are also not afraid to challenge the status quo, inspire others, and take initiative. So, what happens when you have no leadership experience? Is leadership part of your PhD skills?

If you don’t have any formal leadership positions to discuss during job interviews, it doesn’t mean that all is lost. You can still demonstrate leadership without having had a formal position. In fact, informal leadership roles are often more impressive, mainly because the desire to lead comes from you and hasn’t been bestowed on you by others.

The good news is that leadership is very likely an intricate part of your PhD skills. You have probably been a leader in an informal manner at some point in the past. If you have been a teacher, a coach, or a mentor to other students or family members then you have been a leader. As a graduate student or a recent PhD, you have likely been able to influence others despite not having had a formal job title. You might have been the group leader in a class project for example, or demonstrated leadership qualities in an extra-curricular activity. These are the types situations you can draw from when talking about leadership positions.

Take an in-depth look at what you have done in the past and identify moments where you have demonstrated leadership. These experiences will be vital during your job search when convincing hiring committees that you possess the ability to influence others and deliver results. Outlining your informal leadership positions to prospective employers may just get you the job you always wanted, no formal experience required!

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