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Category: Job Descriptions

How to Get Management Experience When You’re not a Manager

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by Dan McCarthy, courtesy of management.about.com

Help wanted: Manager. 5-10 years of experience required. Proven track record of effective management.

It’s hard to land a management position when you don’t have the title “manager” on your resume, or be able to provide specific examples of your management experience.

So what’s an aspiring manager to do without holding formal management positions? Plenty! If you are interested in becoming a manager, then here are 5 ways to get management experience without being a manager:

1. Lead a project. The skills required to be an effective project manager are very similar to the skills required to be an effective manager: planning, organizing, setting goals, managing budgets, leading people, and juggling multiple priorities. If you have never managed a project before, then start by volunteering for project teams. It doesn’t have to be a huge project – start small – perhaps volunteering to be a part of the office Thanksgiving food basket drive.  Hopefully, you’ll get to see what a good project manager does. Or, watch what an ineffective project manager does and do the opposite. Then, once you’ve established yourself as a dependable team member, step up and volunteer to lead a project.

Take a course in project management, read a good book on the topic, and interview successful project managers. You can even get certified as a project manager, but that may be overkill, unless you are planning to make a career out of project management.

2. Train, teach, coach, and mentor. A big part of being an effective manager is developing your team. In order to do that, a manager needs to know how to onboard and train new employees, coach experienced employees, and eventually mentor employees.

Of course, in order to be considered for an opportunity to train new employees, it’s a given that you’d need to be very good at your job, or whatever it is that you’re teaching. But beyond being good at something, it’s important to learn and practice the skills of training, coaching, and mentoring. The best way to learn is by doing! Volunteer to develop a training program; volunteer to mentor underprivileged kids or coach a sports team. Learn the art of coaching – learn to ask great questions.

3. Hone your interviewing skills. Many organizations use selection committees, hiring teams, or will involve others when interviewing job candidates. Again, volunteer for these opportunities. However, don’t just “wing it” when it’s your turn to interview a candidate. Develop a list of great interview questions, practice active listening and asking probing follow-up questions, and learn how to establish a rapport quickly. Being able to screen, interview, and select great employees is an essential management skill and can be learned and practiced! For more on how to interview, I’d highly recommend my colleague Alison Doyle’s About.com Job Search site – it’s the best there is.

4. Learn to manage conflict, have a “crucial conversation”, and give feedback. Yes, dealing with those sticky “people issues” is the most challenging part of a manager’s job. We all face challenging people issues – with our co-workers, family members, and friends. Life is “target rich” when it comes to opportunities to resolve conflict. Learn to do it in a positive, constructive way. See:

How to Manage Workplace Conflict

A Proactive Approach to Tough Feedback

How to Hold a Difficult Conversation

I’d recommend reading the book Crucial Conversations and look for opportunities to practice and get good at it.

Being able to provide specific examples of when you were able to handle a conflict, provide difficult feedback, or address a sensitive issue will demonstrate that you have the willingness and capability to handle the “people” aspect of a management position. And believe me, there are plenty of experienced managers that won’t or can’t deal with people issues, so it really will set you apart.

5. Create and manage a budget. As a manager, I would love it if one of my employees volunteered to create and manage a budget for me! While some managers enjoy the number crunching aspect of management, it’s my least favorite part. If you’re good at Excel, you can learn to create and manage a budget. A good place to start is with your home budget.

If you can’t convince your boss to let go of the budgeting responsibility, you can still do what you can do learn finance, budgeting, and accounting. Take a course, learn to do a cost-benefit analysis and ROI, and learn to speak like a bean-counter. See A Finance and Accounting Glossary for the Non-Financial Manager.

There are a lot of more skills you can learn to prepare you to be a manager, including presentation skills, communication skills, leading change, and strategic thinking. However, it’s important to be able to talk about what you have done, not what you could do. The suggestions listed above will give you that practical management experience needed to help land your first management position.

Are Your Job Listings Trying to Tell You Something?

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Article Courtesy of Tim Kardok, TLNT Contributor

Put yourself in your prospective employee’s shoes. What would make you apply for the job you’re listing?

Are you looking for a title, more money, or career advancement? Most people want these things, and most companies claim they can offer all of them and more.

So, why is it so difficult to find highly qualified candidates for your open position among the hundreds of resumes you receive from online job postings?

The answer may lie in the content and quality of your online job listing, which has to not only reflect what you want from a candidate, but what a superstar candidate would want from you.

Your post is speaking to you — listen!

That stack of resumes sitting on your desk is a data goldmine. Chances are the majority of them don’t interest you — but they should.

What kinds of candidates are you attracting? Are they consistently missing certain qualifications? If the wrong candidates are responding, determine if there is something in your listing, perhaps a word or phrase, that may be sending the wrong message.

For good candidates, determine what you think they found appealing about the position and listing. If you interview them, ask them. If the right candidates are responding to certain aspects of your job listing, make those more prominent and eliminate the irrelevant.

In many cases a job listing is too vague or generic. It casts a wide net, but yields few prospects. Greater specificity might get you fewer applications, and 10 qualified candidates beat 200 bad ones.

First impressions matter

A first impression can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo, and your online job listing may be the first impression a highly qualified job candidate gets about your company. All of a sudden that simple job posting might not be so simple after all.

The best online job postings speak to candidates in ways that go beyond title, requirements, and simple facts about the company. They convey company personality, culture, and values, help differentiate you in your industry, and emphasize careers over jobs.

The listing is not only about what candidates can do for your company, but what you can do for them and their careers.

The portal to your employer brand

Apple was named the most valuable brand in the world this year by the Best Global Brands report, a widely followed ranking of the world’s best companies based on financial performance, role in influencing consumer purchase, and ability to secure earnings. The company tends to attract the best and brightest.

This is how prospective job candidates are greeted when they visit the first page of the job sectionon the Apple website:

Amaze yourself. Amaze the world. A job at Apple is unlike any other you’ve had. You’ll be challenged. You’ll be inspired. And you’ll be proud. Because whatever your job is here, you’ll be part of something big.”

The look, feel, and language of the Apple job postings are consistent with the company’s consumer brand, but speak specifically to the kind of employees they want working for them. The next click leads prospective employees to listings for more than 600 jobs from engineer to “Genius” at their retail stores.

Both active job seekers, and even more passive job candidates, expect companies to tell them “How could working for your company make my life better?” One of the first places you can begin to paint the picture is in your online job listing.

The words, thoughts, and images and how you communicate them will either create a bridge or roadblock to your company. If it’s a bridge, the next click may transport them to your office for an interview.

The difference between getting the highly talented passive candidate or the overly ambitious, paper-the-world, non-qualified job seeker, may be a click away.

Your job listing is your resume

Every job seeker has heard the mantra, “The resume gets you the interview, and the interview gets you the job.” Think of your online job listing as your resume, but this resume gets you the hire.

Just like we as employers expect candidates to tailor their applications and resumes to best speak to opportunities with our companies — don’t expect a bland job description blasted to the masses will attract that superstar candidate you are looking for.

Tell the superstar who you are, what you have to offer, and why he or she should work for you. Get your “resume” to the top of the stack.

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