How to secure your first management job
Managers are the driving force of a company and are often the key to an organisation’s success. The responsibility of driving results rests on their shoulders and this is what makes it one of the most challenging (yet rewarding!) careers.
If you’ve got your sights set on becoming a manager, the trickiest part is often finding your first management role. You might find that you’re trapped in a situation where employers are looking for management experience, but you can’t get that experience until you start your first management job. Here are a few steps to help you secure that elusive first role…
Make your intentions known
Don’t wait for your employer to come and offer you a promotion – make it known that you would like a managerial position. Most companies prefer to promote from within so it could help you if you’re ‘front of mind’ when the next available post opens up.
It can be difficult to have this conversation with your existing manager, but all organisations should be interested in staff development. Appraisals and one-to-one meetings offer the perfect opportunity to discuss your future aspirations.
Assess your current position
The most common route into management is to be promoted within an organisation so it’s important to be realistic about the potential of your current role. Could it lead to a management position? Are you gaining management-level skills?
If there is little potential to move up, or you would prefer to work in a different industry, then it might be beneficial to seek new employment. Side-stepping into an equivalent job might not feel like you’re making progress but it is worthwhile in the long-term if there are more opportunities available to you.
Gain relevant work experience
Managerial skills are used throughout a business and you should seize opportunities to build your experience. Volunteering, taking on extra work, supporting colleagues and helping existing managers will help you develop relevant skills (e.g. communication, persuasion, leadership) and give you examples to discuss in a future interview. This often means accepting more responsibility without receiving a pay raise or title change, but you should always keep your long-term management goal in mind.
Increasingly, employers are looking for staff that are qualified as well as experienced. An undergraduate or postgraduate degree could kick-start your career and give you the credentials to be considered for an interview or promotion. Many of our online students have achieved the leap into management as a result of gaining relevant qualifications.
An MSc Business and Management or a specialist business qualification such as an MBA, will prepare you for management roles. The job market is very competitive and achieving a degree or professional qualification can help you secure interviews and impress employers.
To be promoted or to shine in an interview, you need to be seen as having managerial aptitude. You should be knowledgeable about your industry and should be aware of what’s happening in the wider market. Develop a habit of reading industry publications and websites daily.
Social media is also great for breaking news; follow thought-leaders on Twitter and join industry-related groups on LinkedIn. A crucial part of management is being able to see the ‘bigger picture’ so don’t just look at one business function, take an interest in how different departments work together.
Stepping into management brings many rewards but it also entails more responsibility – You’ll be accountable for the successes and failures of your team. Your first management role can be daunting but you can prepare yourself by taking time to consider what type of manager you want to be. Observe those around you; what makes them successful?
Research different management styles and theories and follow inspiring leaders on social media. Finding a role model within your organisation who can mentor you will help you understand what is required to work at this higher level.
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