Resume Tips to Go from Manager to Director

Here are the top 10 tips from our recruiters and resume writers to build a resume that helps you move from manager to director.

Landing the interview to move from manager to director can be challenging. Your message needs to shift from individual contributor to leadership. Our recruiters and resume writers put together the following tips to explain exactly how to build a resume that makes you stand out.

Difference between Manager and Director

Before diving into the tips to build a strong director-level resume, it is important to first understand the difference between the manager and director-level roles. Knowing those key differences will make it easier to understand what information the hiring committee will be looking for and how to address those tough questions.

Managers are responsible for a team of people. This could be direct reports or indirect reports that they supervise on teams or projects. The function of the manager is to make sure that the team achieves its goals. The manager will frequently set the how, but may not have much say on why or what the teams do.

Directors, on the other hand, are responsible for leading a department or group of managers. They develop the strategy for the team and are responsible for ensuring that the team meets its goals. Directors are also frequently responsible for budgets and decide how to use the funds or hit the financial targets.

Now that you know the difference between the two roles, let’s look at some tips to help you build a resume to move from manager to director.

Tips to Build a Strong Director Level Resume

1. Start with a strong summary.

Moving from manager to director requires a strong summary. This is the first section on your resume. The best director level summaries will answer the question of "why hire me?"

People will skim the summary section and everyone will look for different details. Here are some ways to make sure that your summary stands out:

  • Keep it focused. Limit the summary to 3 - 5 sentences. This will make it easier for people to skim it.

  • Set the tone. Get right to the point about your value propositions to create those interview talking points.

  • Emphasize your strengths. Incorporate your strengths into the summary and provide examples of them across your resume.

  • Articulate your leadership style. At least one sentence of a director-level resume should include a sentence about how you develop and manage people.

2. Focus on achievements.

When listing your experience and skills, make sure to highlight your achievements. People that hire director-level roles are looking for your results. They want to understand what you have done and what skills you used to achieve those results.

The achievements obtained at the manager level aren't always on the same level as someone that has already held the title of director. So, here are some ways to capture the achievements that matter for your resume to make that move to director:

  • Include numbers. People understand what they can count. This means including numbers to show movement (up or down) can help you to stand out for the person that will skim the resume.

  • Use dollar signs. Financial responsibility is almost always a core part of any director level role. So, if you have had this responsibility, make sure to clearly include it on your resume.

  • Remove the jargon. Make it easy for the reader by explaining what you did and how it helped the company succeed. Do this by eliminating any internal or industry jargon so that anyone could understand the importance of what you did.

  • Connect to the business. Mere experience doing something is frequently not enough at the director level. Instead, you need to show why you did something by tying it back to a business result. This makes it clear that you were thinking strategically in acting.

  • Talk about your team. As the leader of the people that did the work, explain who your team was and what they did. Team size, location, whether they were internal or external, and how you developed the people matters.

3. Use Executive Level Phrases

Make sure that the tone of your resume reflects the desired next level in your career. This means that the words you use matters. Select the verbs that show action and leadership. They can help you stand out from the competition and show hiring managers that you're capable of taking on a director's role.

Here are a few examples of leadership-level power verbs to use in your resume:

  • Led

  • Managed

  • Directed

  • Chaired

  • Oversaw

  • Orchestrated

  • Pioneered

  • Spearheaded

  • Championed

  • Transformed

  • Innovated

  • Collaborated

  • Influenced

4. Use Numbers and Percentages.

Numbers and percentages are another great way to stand out on your resume. They show hiring managers that you're capable of quantifying your achievements. For example, "Managed a team of 10 employees" is better than "Managed a team."

5. Keep it Concise.

A good leader can focus their message on their audience. This means that you must keep your resume focused on your experience as a leader in a way that is relevant to the job that you are now pursuing.

Stick to the most important information and leave out irrelevant details. In doing that, you should not cut the basic details that are always important (like education, certifications, etc). Instead, save space by providing details under the more recent jobs (typically last 10 - 15 years) and consolidating the older positions.

6. Use the Right Keywords

Use the job description to your advantage by selecting the right keywords and phrases that are important for the role you're seeking and repeating them throughout your resume. This will help ensure that your resume is properly tailored to the job, while still highlighting your most relevant skills and experiences.

7. Incorporate Responsibilities

The focus of your resume should be on your achievements. But, you should never underestimate the value of responsibilities, or the functional things that you have done that are relevant to what you want to do next.

The people skimming your resume will want to see that you have done the job before. Including responsibilities in the right way on your director-level resume can definitely show that you have the right experience - even if you haven't held the title previously.

8. Optimize Your Resume for the Applicant Tracking System

Make sure that a person actually sees your resume by building a message that can be read by the applicant tracking systems (ATS). Nearly all employers use some form of ATS and your resume will go through such a system if you are applying to jobs online or through the HR department.

Tips to make sure that your resume format is ATS optimized:

  • Minimize formatting. Most of these programs cannot read heavily formatted documents. Keep your resume format clean and simple to maximize the ability of the systems to read the resume.

  • Focus on the words on the page. All ATS are built to parse the words from the resume so the information can go into the system. It will not infer concepts or words from your resume that aren't there. This means that you need to put everything that matters on your resume to get the phrase n the database.

  • Use black text. Most ATS can't read the font unless it is black. Using colored text can look visually appealing, but often won't get the information in the right place.

  • Forget the pictures. Images can complicate the ability of the ATS to pull the text out of your resume and to put it into the right spot in the system. And, there are some ATS that are built to strip out any pictures or things that can create bias.

  • Use the keywords. All ATS are driven by keywords and job titles. Overcome your lack of a particular job title, by using the words on your resume to show that you have done the job before.

9. Check for typos.

Proofread your resume multiple times and have someone else look it over as well. A resume with typos is a surefire way to not get an interview. Moreover, a resume that is free of errors is expected at the director level.

10. Stay Positive

No one wants to hire someone that is negative or stuck in the past. Show that you are forward-thinking and always working to improve as a leader by keeping the tone of your resume positive.

Staying positive is also important to show that you are a leader that people will want to work for in the future. Emphasizing that you want to help others to succeed and that showing the skills that would make someone want to work with you and for you starting with the resume is the key.

In order to land a director-level role, your resume must be tailored to the specific position you are applying for and showcase your unique skills and experiences. Our team of experts can help you craft a resume that will make you stand out from the competition. Claim your free consultation or resume analysis today, and let us help you take the next step in your career.