How to Write About Your Leadership Roles on a Job Application or College Essay

“Describe any leadership roles you’ve held and the duties you’ve performed in your high school career. (200 words or less)”

Your fingers, which had been dancing across your key board at record pace as you cruise through your application, are suddenly motionless. 200 words? Are you kidding me? You couldn’t list all of the leadership roles you’ve held in that amount of space, let alone describe all of your responsibilities in complete sentences!

Being able to demonstrate the value of your experiences and duties is a very important skill you’ll need for the rest of your life. You may study abroad and be expected to give a fifteen minute presentation for your class when you return. Someday, you’ll be sitting at a job interview and will have to describe what you did at your last job.  While you could probably spend hours talking about your trip to England, and use your entire interview session to detail everything you accomplished at your previous job, there’s always a cap on how much you can write and how much time you can take. Check out these tips on how you can effectively depict your leadership roles and responsibilities to a college admissions board or future employer.

Determine What’s Relevant 

When you have a lot to talk about, start with what’s going to be the most impressive to the person reading your application. Which of your leadership roles will make the most sense to point out? If you’re an accounting major, it’s more important that you mention your position as treasurer of the economics club, than your role of head photographer for the yearbook club. While you’ll be inclined to write down everything you’ve ever done, sometimes less is more.

Determine What’s Recent

While winning your school’s writing award in 6th grade was awesome, it probably doesn’t have a place in your college/job application, even if it’s relevant to your major. The person reading your application is most concerned with your recent achievements. If you’re in high school, try to limit your application to your high school career. If you’re in college, limit your application to college.

Be Concise 

Practice writing and talking about your leadership roles. How can you explain the responsibilities of that role within a few sentences? You probably won’t be able to discuss all of your duties, so stick to what you did most often, and what was most impressive. You don’t need to write down everything you have ever done in that position.

Focus on the Facts

When you discuss your responsibilities, try to incorporate hard facts. Instead of saying you planned a walk to raise money for cancer, you can say you planned a walk for cancer in which 1,300 people attended, and $5,000 was raised. Instead of saying you started an improv comedy group, say you started an improv comedy group that now has 42 members, and has put on fifteen shows. Including the numbers when you describe your leadership duties allows for the reader to understand the magnitude of your accomplishments.


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  1. swinvon says:

    I think that this article is so wonderful

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