Click play to hear an exclusive podcast interview with professional coach and networking expert Victoria Salem and the hosts of The Toastmasters Podcast.
As a Toastmaster, you have likely improved your leadership skills, become a better public speaker, discovered oratory techniques that help you reach your goals when you present, and more. You are clear on the benefits of being part of Toastmasters, but people you meet might not be. So how can you best explain Toastmasters? How do you showcase what you have learned? How do you use this experience to benefit your career?
Before you meet a potential new client, head to a networking event, or go on an interview, the person you are about to meet will certainly check your LinkedIn profile and/or your resume. So, where do you highlight Toastmasters within those two?
As a professional coach and networking expert, I regularly get asked this question. And the answer is that it depends on your own personal experience. Indeed, there are several ways you can highlight the skills you developed and explain the Toastmasters benefits to people you meet or people viewing your resume or profile online.
The first questions to ask yourself are:
- What information do I want people to know about this experience?
- How important is this experience within my career? Is it necessary to include it in the experiences section?
- What skills are important to highlight and how can I illustrate them with personal stories?
The Toastmasters Journey on Your Resume
Your Toastmasters experience and the skills gained can be detailed in different parts of your resume:
- Experiences section
- Skills section
- Additional information
- Honors and awards, if relevant
Kathy Hansen, Ph.D., a former Toastmaster and author of nine books on career development and job searching, doesn’t believe in separating professional experience from volunteer experience. Hansen says, “Experience is experience.” Listing Toastmasters as part of your professional experience makes the most sense under certain circumstances:
- If you were a District or international leader.
- If an officer position you have held is especially relevant to the job you seek. For example, Vice President Public Relations for a PR or marketing job or Treasurer for an accounting job.
- If you have high-level achievements in the speech-contest realm and speaking/presentations are relevant to the job.
- If you have had one or more gaps in your employment history.
Ian Hanreck, a transformational career coach in London, England, suggests that your Toastmasters experience be included under your “Key Skills” or “Key Skills and Achievements” section—a section of six to eight bullet points located after your contact details and before your career history. Hanreck says, “Every CV should have a heading with ‘achievements’ in the title because most applicant tracking systems are programmed to search for that word when scanning resumes.”
First highlight your presentation and communication skills. Then add a few words about your level of experience, mentioning you are a Toastmasters member. Most employers will care more about your skills than where you acquired them. They want to know you have that skill and at what level.
“Tailor your Toastmasters leadership skills to the skills required for a given job opening,” Hansen says. She suggests you look at the list of 300 Pathways competencies and choose the top five to 10 you developed in Toastmasters that are relevant to the job description.
Hansen also recommends consulting the Club Leadership Handbook and District Leadership Handbook for the scope of each of these leadership roles and what competencies they require. (The Toastmasters International website also has descriptions for Region Advisors and other roles.) Identify those you have practiced and developed and come up with an example of how you have used each, and ideally how that skill applies to the job you are applying for.
“Tailor your Toastmasters leadership skills to the skills required for a given job opening.”–Kathy Hansen, Ph.D.
The skills section is usually composed of words and short phrases so you can look for opportunities in other sections to elaborate on your accomplishments or roles that demonstrate the skills cited or to highlight your involvement with a Toastmasters club (within extracurricular activities or additional information). You can list these points under a Toastmasters heading, then the title of your role, followed by two or three skills you use. Hansen shared an example from her resume:
Public Relations Officer, Toastmasters International, District 9 (Inland Pacific Northwest), July 2012 to July 2014
- Marketed and generated publicity for Toastmasters District covering 800 members, parts of three states, and 63 clubs.
- Achieved excellent record of press placements.
- Conducted PR training.
Your resume should not exceed two pages, so you are limited in the content you can include. Focus on highlighting the essential, which you can then develop when you meet the interviewer.
Showcasing Toastmasters on LinkedIn
On LinkedIn, you can list your key skills and achievements in your profile summary (the “About” section). Add them with your other skills using a bulleted list. For example:
- Excellent public speaker
- Advanced team leadership skills
- Outstanding written and verbal communication skills
Then include information about your Toastmasters membership and roles further down on your profile within “Accomplishments” or “Volunteer Experience.” On my profile, I included Toastmasters under the “Volunteer Experience” section as I decided to highlight the roles I have taken in my club.
When you mention Toastmasters on your LinkedIn profile or resume, avoid jargon and abbreviations, like “DTM” or “DCP.” However, if you do use your designation in your LinkedIn name, list the full title and an explanation in the “Accomplishments” or “Licenses and Certifications” sections where awards, completed courses, and distinctions are added. A simple explanation for a DTM, for example, would be that it’s the highest credential a Toastmaster can achieve. If other awards on the list are explained, give a concise description of what was done to earn the award.
When you add your Toastmasters experience on LinkedIn, link it to the Toastmasters International LinkedIn page (this is the first line of the experience, called “Organization”). This will improve your visibility to people searching for Toastmasters-related content and it looks more professional as the Toastmasters logo will appear on your experience.
For the role, you can write, “Various roles held at the club name” or the title of position you hold. Then comes the description, where you describe the current responsibilities you undertake with your club, your past roles, the awards you have gained, and the skills you have developed. This is also where you can include any mentoring work you have performed, the help you have given to other members, and how this experience has benefited you.
Break up your content with short paragraphs and subheads and include bulleted lists to make the information easier to digest. Try to keep it short with paragraphs of three to five sentences. Remember, the idea is to share limited information on LinkedIn and give more detail in an interview or meeting.
The skills you have improved thanks to Toastmasters can also be showcased within the “Skills and Endorsements” section. Add the attributes you feel are relevant to your profile and experiences. And don’t forget to ask your Toastmasters LinkedIn connections to endorse you!
In addition to your resume and LinkedIn profile, you should regularly share your Toastmasters experiences on your social media accounts. Post images, quotes, and videos directly on the feeds of the platforms you are active on. This will allow your contacts to stay in touch with you and discover more about the skills you are developing.
Editor’s Note: Watch this webinar series featuring global business leaders with takeaway tips, and improve your self-awareness, networking, and confidence for your next job interview.
Victoria Salem is a former member of the Covent Garden Speakers in London, England. A professional coach and networking expert, she helps individuals build better relationships so they can be more successful and create more opportunities for themselves. Learn more at tgncoaching.co.uk.
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