Applying for Your First Management Role
It is very common to speak to experienced candidates who have been in a senior position or specialist role but haven’t had direct management experience. This can put you in limbo with employers cautious about taking on a management newbie. These are our tips for securing that management role and leaving your new boss in no doubt that you are perfectly capable of leading a team.
Is a management role what you really want?
This may seem a strange question considering you’re reading this article but it’s the first step on the management ladder. Management is not for everyone. You need to be realistic about the role and what you want out of your career. Management involves a lot of admin, a lot of meetings, and a lot of HR-type work. Don’t ever believe that being a manager is an easy ride where you can delegate all the boring jobs – it’s almost always the opposite! To be a successful manager you need to have an excellent grip on end goals, as well as the processes involved in achieving them. You need to genuinely care about your team and invest your time in supporting them. The benefits are the satisfaction of seeing projects through, building a positive working environment and, in most cases, an increased salary. If a hirer senses that you don’t really want the responsibilities of a management role, it’s unlikely your application will be successful.
Understand the management role
Don’t make assumptions about what a management role entails. Find out as much as possible before you go into an interview. Understanding the company structure is vital. Before you suggest introducing yourself to the team over breakfast, ensure your team works in the same office! It’s entirely possible that some will be working remotely or working part-time. Your team may work across departments and have dual roles. Ask questions about the people that you would be managing rather than imagining your dream team. Showing an interest in your future colleagues gives a positive impression and is a great management quality. The recruiter may be able to provide some insight but remember all management roles are different and asking the hirer isn’t going to demonstrate inexperience, it will show you understand the complexities.
You have management experience!
Most people have some aspects of management experience. It’s important that you really analyse your experience that can contribute to your future management role. Have you stood in for your boss? Have you led a project? Have you taken on a team leader role? If you’re still early on in your career you might want to think of leadership roles you have had outside of work. Did you lead a society at university? Have you managed a charity or community project? You might have even project-managed an extension on your property. You don’t need to list all these things but if asked for an example of working with several stakeholders, your experience resolving a dispute on the PTA could be the evidence the interviewer needs!
Build your confidence
This is probably the most important and most difficult aspect of applying for your first management role. Firstly remember that no one was born a manager. Everyone in a senior role has been in your situation, even if it was an internal promotion. If you think it’s time for you to take on a management role then you just need to persuade everyone else. Do as much research as you can so that you feel confident that you won’t be blindsided by awkward gaps in your knowledge. Also, try some role-play. There are loads of lists of interview questions online. Select 10 that you feel are suitable for the role you’re going for and maybe write some more of your own. If you can get a partner or friend, or even better a workmate (as long as your interview is common knowledge!) to test you it makes for much better practice than rehearsing alone.
Remember there really is nothing stopping you from going for a management role. Understand the role, match your experience, and do your research.
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