You may think the more experience you have, the better shot you have of getting a job. Yet having too much experience could make you overqualified for the job – which could be to your detriment. Employers may worry you’d demand too high of a salary, you’d want a promotion right away or you’d get bored and move on to another job quickly.
So, if you’re eyeing a job that you are overqualified for, what should you do to show the employer you’re serious about getting – and staying at – the job? Here are some tips.
Ask yourself some tough questions
Before you even apply for the job, do a gut check to make sure it’s what you really want. Christopher K. Lee, founder and career consultant at Purpose Redeemed, says to consider the following questions: “Can I perform the duties and excel in this role? Will I be satisfied with the compensation (you may need to take a pay cut)? How long will I be content in this role (especially if taking this position is to ‘get a foot in the door’ before moving on to higher positions)?”
If you answer these questions favorably, Lee says to go ahead and apply for the job.
Use the cover letter to explain yourself
“In your cover letter, explain why you want that particular position, even if it’s not as high level as your most recent position,” suggests Kelly Donovan, principal at Kelly Donovan & Associates. “For example, you could say, ‘Although I’m proud of my work managing a marketing department, I’d like to be able to focus once again on my favorite aspect of this field – executing digital marketing campaigns.’”
It may seem counterintuitive to not want to highlight all of your accomplishments on your resume, but when applying for a position you’re overqualified for, you want to focus specifically on roles and responsibilities that align with the prospective position.
“Your resume must represent your job history accurately, but beyond that, you have plenty of leeway in terms of what points you choose to emphasize,” Donovan says. “If the position you’re seeking is an individual contributor role, don’t include a bullet in your summary talking about your leadership skills. And don’t refer to yourself as an executive in the summary unless you’re going for an executive role.”
Be ready to answer ‘Why?’ in the interview
If you get to the interview stage, expect questions around why you want the job given your advanced experience and skills. “This is the first question the employer will ask … [the] worker needs to be prepared with a strong and credible answer,” says Laura MacLeod, HR expert and consultant. “Consider the employer’s concerns: You are only taking the job until you find something better; you’ll be difficult to manage because you’ll feel superior to team members and maybe even your supervisor; your attitude will be poor … and you’ll eventually become lazy – dragging others down with you.”
MacLeod says you’ll need to ease the employer’s concerns by first acknowledging that you know you’re overqualified and then providing reasons why it’s to the company’s benefit to hire you.
“This might be your ability/willingness to mentor team members, step into spots when other workers are out sick or on vacation, [or] assist the team in higher achievement,” she says.
Ease their salary fears
One of the biggest roadblocks to getting a job you’re overqualified for is coming to terms with a salary reduction – and convincing the employer you’re willing to take one.
“From a salary perspective, the candidate may be out of the range the company is looking for, so in their application, they’ll have to make it clear the role is an acceptable range for them,” says Jennifer Braganza, a success champion, coach and speaker. “For example, maybe you were a manager in [your current] function and are now looking for an individual contributor role given your current phase of life (new baby, approaching retirement, taking care of ailing parents). In the interview, you’d have to make it clear you’re not expecting what you were getting because you know this role has less responsibility.”
It’s safe to say that office romance has been around forever. After all, coworkers spend lots of time together, often have similar interests, and probably spend a lot of time rolling their eyes at each other during meetings. So it’s no surprise that co-workers sometimes wind up dating.
Thinking about asking out the cutie in the cube over?
If your pupils turn to hearts every time you see one of your coworkers, you might want to proceed with caution. Clearly office romances are not unusual, but you want to approach them with a head that’s level, not in the clouds.
Rosemary Haefner, CHRO of CareerBuilder, says to avoid negative consequences at work, it’s important to set ground rules in your relationship that help you stay professional in the office and keep your personal life private.
Check the rules. In some cases, employers have a policy that prohibits employees from dating one another. Be sure that you know your company’s policy before getting into any kind of relationship. If you don’t know the policy, check with HR.
Keep your personal life out of the office. Remember to keep your personal life out of your work one: You might have had an argument with the new object of your affection, but that doesn’t mean anyone else cares, and there is certainly no reason to let it affect your job. And speaking of the separation of love and work, beware of social media. While 41 percent of workers today choose to keep their relationship a secret at work, posting on social media may make it much more difficult to keep from your coworkers.
Don’t let your romance impact your relationship with your co-workers. If you don’t properly separate your romantic and work life, your romance may color people’s judgment with regard to promotions, projects, team building and responsibilities. Don’t blur your professional and love lives and everything will be much simpler.
Job searching can at times be discouraging — not finding the right opportunities, feeling ignored and experiencing rejection. It’s during times like this that you can take solace in the fact that even some of your favorite stars worked hard at everyday jobs before stumbling upon their professional pot of gold. Before they stole the limelight, here’s what some of your favorite celebs did to pay the bills.
Yes, he will live on in our memories as president of the United States, but before serving the public, Barack Obama’s first job was serving ice cream at a Baskin-Robbins in Hawaii. And while he admitted it wasn’t quite as glamorous as being America’s Commander-in-Chief, it did teach him responsibility and hard work—and gave him a taste (pardon the pun) of what balancing a job and life would be.
While auditioning for acting jobs, royal-to-be Meghan Markle moonlighted as a freelance calligrapher to pay the bills to keep her dream of acting alive. Since then, she has gone on to star in the hit USA Network show Suits, excel in philanthropic work around the world and gear up for her future royal responsibilities.
You don’t always land your dream job right off the bat. Case in point: Ellen DeGeneres. Before becoming the reigning queen of daytime talk shows, she took on her share of odd jobs — including serving as a waitress, bartender, house painter and oyster shucker to pay the bills. In due time she launched her stand-up comedy career, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Before she reinvented the world of pop music, Madonna’s professional career can be traced back to more humble beginnings — one of which was as a cashier at Dunkin’ Donuts. Now instead of selling to lines of customers, she sells out venues, but it didn’t happen overnight.
Before Beyonce entered Red Lobster into the pop culture lexicon by including it in her lyrics, an undiscovered Nicki Minaj moonlighted as a waitress at the seafood chain before making her way up the entertainment industry’s food chain.
Now she is a world-famous actress and advocate, breaking barriers on TV and off-screen; back then Washington made a difference in the world working as a substitute teacher in New York and teaching us that pursuing your dream job can be a reality, but there is also value in the jobs leading up to it.
Who would’ve thought the music and fashion mogul would have his start at none other than the Gap, where he worked as a teenager. He has said that even though he couldn’t afford the merchandise at the store, the environment did get his creative juices flowing.
Bet you didn’t know your Friend Jennifer Aniston did everything from earning an allowance cleaning toilets to being a bike messenger on the busy streets of New York. Talk about grit. Following her stint at more menial tasks as well as many failed auditions, Aniston landed the role of a lifetime as Rachel Green on Friends.
It’s hard to imagine Harrison Ford as anything other than Indiana Jones, but as it turns out Ford got his start earning money as a carpenter. Evidently, it was his cabinet-making job for an esteemed filmmaker that landed him a role in one of his films. Let that be a lesson to give every job your best — even if it may be a stepping stone to something greater.
Regardless of the reason, if you currently find yourself without gainful employment, you may feel nervous about addressing your employment gap in an upcoming interview. But don’t worry! While the circumstances of your unemployment are sure to come up, these strategies will help you handle that tough question like a pro.
While your instinct may be to fudge the truth—especially if your termination of employment was involuntary—it is vital that you’re honest. Doing so will demonstrate your values to your potential employer and help you distinguish yourself from the pack. Honesty and integrity carry a lot of weight when it comes time to make an employment decision.
No employer wants to sit through a one-man show about why you were unemployed. So keep it short and sweet. You want to convince your interviewer that your time away from the workforce has not impacted your ability to perform the job, so address the employment gap with a one-to-two sentence response and then transition into how you have been preparing yourself for this job opportunity.
Have you recently been certified in an industry skill or are you working temporarily for a family friend? Keep the conversation on these achievements and the responsibilities you’ve had during your unemployment. Hiring managers are primarily interested in being assured that you’re ready to work and that there aren’t any red flags, such as bad employer reviews.
Never bash your previous employer, even if there was cause to be angry. Whether you were fired or laid off, you can be frank about it and explain yourself — with tact. Underline the lesson you learned and how you benefitted from the experience. If you were fired for repeatedly being late, speak to how you mastered time management. For personnel issues, explain that your values and work ethic are important to you, and that they align with those of the company.
Highlighting your passion for this type of work and the enthusiasm you have for this opportunity will also help to reassure the hiring manager. From their perspective, they have a vacant role and need to fill it with someone dependable. Showing your positive personality and creating a relationship with the hiring manager will help hiring managers see you as a potential fit.
Before the interview, do your research. Know what the company does, what your role there would be and investigate the organization’s values and recent news and achievements. That way, you’ll be able to align your ambitions and values with those of the company.
Focus on what you’ve learned from the experience of being unemployed, how you’ve grown as a professional and how you intend to apply these learnings to a new position.
Addressing your unemployment in a job interview doesn’t have to be as uncomfortable as you might think. In reality, hiring managers are familiar with every aspect of hiring and firing, and your story probably isn’t the strangest they’ve ever heard. And the important fact is that you’re here now. So take advantage of the opportunity and do your best.
Interviews are a two-way street. Check out what questions you should be asking.
Preparing for a job interview is more than just practicing common interview questions and choosing the right outfit – it’s also about researching the company and the role. When you take the time to research, not only will you get a better feel for what the company is looking for and how you will fit in, it will also help you stand out from the other candidates. Employers want someone who is familiar with the company, and they will be impressed that you went the extra mile and did your homework.
Here are some key things you should know about a company before sitting down for the job interview.
What does the company do?
It may sound obvious, but knowing what the company actually does is key. Hiring managers almost always ask what you know about the company in order to gauge your interest level and industry knowledge. If you don’t have a good answer to this question, it tells the hiring manager that you don’t really care about the company – you just want a job.
What will the job entail?
While the interview gives you a chance to learn more about the intricacies of the role, you should try to understand as much as you can about the role prior to the interview. This will give you a chance to find out where you can contribute and prepare to discuss why you would be the ideal person for this role.
What are the company’s values?
It’s not enough to know what the company does, but also why they do it. Not only will you learn more about the company and get information that will impress the hiring manager, but you will also see how it aligns with your own values and further assess whether or not this is the right company for you.
A big part of understanding the company – and your potential in it – is understanding the company’s customer base. Who uses the company’s products and services? What audience does the company market to? Showing you understand the company’s customers and their needs will further set you apart as a knowledgeable and enthusiastic candidate.
Most companies will list their notable clients on their website. You can also check the company’s blog, case studies and white papers to find out more.
What’s new and noteworthy?
Most hiring managers will already expect you to have an initial understanding of what the company does, but if you show that you’re on top of news and trends, you’ll make an even bigger impression. Take the time to find out what the company has been up to lately, and you’ll get a better understanding of where the company is going and it’s place in the industry. For instance, is the company launching any new products or services? Has it received any recognition or awards recently? Has it received any other recent press that is worth noting?
Who are the leaders?
Knowing a bit about the company’s leadership team can be helpful in researching and preparing for an interview. Not only is it one more way to show the interviewer you’ve done your research, but you’ll get more insight into the company’s values and culture. Plus, depending on the size of the company and the position for which you’re interviewing, you may find yourself meeting with one of these leaders in person.
Who is your interviewer?
Having some background information on the person with whom you’ll be interviewing can potentially help you prepare for the kinds of questions to expect. Get the name and title of the person with whom you’ll be interviewing, then see if you have any common connections who can offer any insight into this person’s personality. Otherwise, you can do some old-fashioned internet research. Look for shared interests that can help you build a rapport. (Feel weird about Googling your interviewer? It might help to know that they’ve likely done a little intel on you.)
Where to research
The following resources can help you dig deeper and get the insight you need for your interview.
The company website: The company’s website is the obvious starting point to learn about what the company does, its mission and its values (usually found on its “About Us” page). Most companies also have a dedicated “Careers” section where you can learn about what it’s like to work there, the culture and the benefits. Check out the company press room to learn about new or upcoming product launches, awards received or other company news.
Social media: Browse the company’s social media pages for more up-to-date news and exciting happenings at the company. Seeing how the company interacts with fans and followers on social media can also help you get a closer look inside the culture and values.
Company review sites:Third-party sites, such as Glassdoor, allow current and former employees to rate and review the company. Learn more about what it’s like to work there and what you can expect from leadership.
Google news: Doing a Google news search for the company will help you find information the company might not necessarily post on social media or its website. You may also find interviews with leadership, which will give you further insight into the values of the company.
You’ve applied to your dream company, but alas — they decided to go with a different candidate. That doesn’t necessarily mean the door to that company is closed forever; it just means you weren’t the best fit for the position they had open. But there will be plenty of others, and you can use these as opportunities to put your best foot forward and try to get your foot in the door again.
1.Understand why you were turned down for the role. By understanding the gap in your previous application, you can learn how to close it, says Joshua Siva, co-author of “BOLD: Get Noticed, Get Hired.”
“Ideally this comes from the company through a contact involved in the hiring process, but if not, the applicant needs to be honest with themselves: ‘Did I have the experience, did I speak the company’s language, did I sell myself the right way?’” he advises. “Make a list of these things, and spend whatever amount of time is needed to close the gap, and be sure to have it documented and readily demonstrated.”
2.Connect with someone in a similar role at that company. Perhaps the reason you didn’t land the last job you applied to was because you didn’t fully comprehend the role. You can rectify that this time around.
“[Reach out to someone] in order to learn everything about their role, their background, how they got in, company trends, etc.,” Siva says. “It’s amazing how far asking questions can take the applicant, because at the end of it all, the potential applicant will likely get asked about their own ambitions, and when shared, who knows what doors may open via the employee.”
3.Follow up with the hiring manager. There’s clearly a difference between checking in and periodically and annoying the hiring manager with unnecessary updates. Siva suggests doing the former and, as part of the follow-up, recommends reminding the HR manager that your resume is on file, sharing the progress you’ve made since and reiterating your passion for the company.
“It’s always a favorable position when an applicant is on the mind of an HR professional involved with recruiting because they constantly have visibility and support requests to fill roles,” he says.
4.Give it time before applying again. Lisa Rangel, managing director of Chameleon Resumes, an executive résumé-writing and job-search service, says that in general, it’s good to wait a minimum of three to six months.
“There needs to be enough time to allow for a possible change in the company situation and for the person to amass additional and/or relevant skills that are different than before,” she says.
5.Adjust your application before you re-apply. Assuming you’ve taken the aforementioned steps to improve your chances of landing the same or a different role at your dream company, make sure your application reflects all the steps you’ve taken since you last applied. Highlight your recent wins — whether you’ve taken online courses, earned new certifications or worked somewhere else to build your experience and credibility.
“To be taken seriously for the competitive and coveted positions in the marketplace, those who are and aren’t currently employed need to be advancing and improving themselves as time goes on,” Siva says. “If applying for the same role, that improvement needs to speak to closing the gaps in their previous application. If applying for a different role or function, that progress needs to demonstrate the pivot in knowledge and the commitment made to pursuing the new function of focus.”
You’re already using your smart phone to shop, play games, get news updates and avoid your family during holiday get-togethers – why not use it to advance your career as well? From building an eye-catching resume to building your professional network, the following mobile apps are designed to help you take the next step so you can get to the next level in your career.
Find your calling.
Pathsource: Pathsource helps you find the career that’s right for you based on various personality assessments and tests. One key feature is the Lifestyle Assessment, which determines the ideal salary needed to support the lifestyle you lead (or want to lead). From there, it recommends various careers that both match your career interests and have average salaries that support your lifestyle.
Good&Co: With the goal of bringing “greater happiness and meaning to your career,”Good&Co uses fun quizzes and personality assessments to help users discover their unique skills and strengths. It then draws from thousands of company profiles to match them with companies and positions that align with these attributes.
Build your resume.
Resume Star: With Resume Star, you just fill in your information and the app produces a clean, correctly formatted PDF resume you can email directly, post online or print out. The app is free to download and use, but the developers ask that you submit a payment once you get an interview (or better yet, a job).
VisualCV Resume Builder: Whether you need a completely new resume or to enhance an existing one, this user-friendly app has you covered. With VisualCB, you can import and modify an existing resume in Word or PDF or use the Basic or Visual Editor to build a new one from a variety of templates.
PayTrends: PayTrends aggregates company data and employee salaries from all over the world to help you assess your worth. Find out how much you should or could be making based on your background, location, industry, company and other factors. You can also see salary and compensation by company, industry segment, location and along the years of experience.
WageSpot: WageSpot helps you see how you compare to your peers by providing salary information by age, gender, location, commute time and job satisfaction. WageSpot gathers salary data from its users, who enter their salary information (anonymously) upon first opening the app.
Meetup: Meetup is a social networking app that helps people with similar interests connect and meet in real life. Use Meetup to join (or start) a group that meets your interests and start building your professional network.
Eventbrite: Check out the business section of Eventbrite to find career fairs, networking events, seminars and professional development courses in your area.
CamCard: Keep track of your new professional contacts with CamCard, which translates business card information into contact information and lets you manage your contacts efficiently.
Add skills to your resume.
Udemy: Udemy is an online learning platform that offers courses in everything from programming to marketing to design to cake decorating. With the mobile app, you can watch videos, access course documents, and even purchase Udemy courses wherever you are.
Udacity: Udacity helps anyone learn how to code (an increasingly coveted skill among employers) with mobile-optimized courses in HTML, Java, CSS and others, taught by experts from Google and Facebook. No wifi connection? No problem – you can download videos for offline viewing.
Duolongo: Add “multi-lingual” to your resume with free, interactive courses ranging from Spanish to Russian to Arabic. The popular app has 200 million users and recently added Asian languages to its offerings.
Search for jobs.
CareerBuilder Job Search: Well, obviously, WE think CareerBuilder’s mobile job search app is great – but we’re not the only ones! Consistently recognized as one of the best job search apps around, CareerBuilder Job Search lets you search for and apply to jobs on the spot or save them for later, track and manage your applications, get job recommendations and create alerts to learn about new job openings. But what really sets this app apart is the ability to get push notifications any time an employer looks at your resume and profile, so you know who to follow up with first.
Prep for job interviews.
Job Interview Question-Answer: Never show up to the interview unprepared again. This app helps you prepare better answers to common interview questions, such as “Why do you want to join this company?” with short videos explaining the types of answers employers are looking for.
Pocket Mentor: Currently only available for iOS, Pocket Mentor offers daily advice to inspire the confidence and motivation to get ahead in your job or find a new one. While Pocket Mentor offers a free seven-day trial for new users, it is $4.99 once the trial period expires.
Let’s face it – no job search is a walk in the park. But some job searches are more frustrating than others, especially those that last a long time. So, how do you stay motivated during a job hunt that seems to drag on forever?
Here are some tips to help you stay on track and get that job:
Change things up
“If what you’ve been doing is not bringing you good results, replace or add in new job search activities or methods,” suggests Laurie Berenson, founder of Sterling Career Concepts. For instance, if the only tactic you’ve been using is applying to jobs online, expand your strategies to include networking. “Reconnect with your network or start attending professional association meetings or mixers,” Berenson says. “Reach out to alumni of your college … You’ll see an uptick in new activity that will motivate you to keep going.”
Stick to a schedule Cheryl E. Palmer, certified career coach and owner of Call to Career, says creating structure will keep you motivated. “Map out your day and your week so that you have specific activities that you plan to accomplish at specific times,” she recommends. For instance, you might spend the first couple of hours each day searching for jobs on job boards, then spend the next few hours connecting with people on professional networking sites, then spend the afternoon researching companies of interest and applying to jobs. Then one day a week, plan to attend a networking event.
Employ outside help Sometimes when you’re in a rut you need an outsider’s perspective and guidance to help get you back on track. “If you find yourself spinning your wheels in your job search, consider hiring a career coach who can help you focus your energies and troubleshoot any trouble spots with your search,” Palmer says. You can also consider working with a recruiter at a staffing firm, who can help you learn about new opportunities that might not appear on job boards, and also serve as a coach through the hiring process.
Stay active in the community “Job seekers who are finding that the job search process is taking longer than they had hoped need to continue to nourish their professional identities by staying as active as possible in their fields and in their communities,” says Robert Brooks, a career counselor with 25 years of experience. “This can be done through freelance work, volunteering, blogging, self-study, classroom study, professional associations, networking with other professionals (employed and unemployed), and finding opportunities to do what you do. For example, if you are a programmer, write open source code. If you are a designer, design. If you are a writer, write.”
Stay active physically
It’s been proven that physical exercise provides a ton of mental health benefits, including reducing stress, alleviating anxiety and increasing brainpower. And if you’re in a better mood, you’ll have a better attitude toward your job search. “Do whatever you enjoy – it could be as simple as going for a walk around the neighborhood – or going to a fitness class at the gym. Getting some fresh air and working up a sweat will make you feel better.”
Ask for feedback If you’re making it to the interview stage but never getting an offer, you might be doing or saying something that’s causing you to strike out. “If possible, ask for feedback from your interviewers if you were not selected for the position you interviewed for,” says Erin Pummell, operations recruiter at Oldcastle Lawn and Garden. “This will give you an insight as to what employers in the industry are looking for and help you see why you missed the mark that time to make sure you excel in your next interview.”
Take a break
“Sometimes, taking a clean, temporary break from the job hunt can allow you to have the space to reassess your overall approach and clarify what you could be doing differently,” says Joseph Liu, career consultant and host of the Career Relaunch Podcast. “Stepping back provides you with perspective so you can avoid simply beating a dead horse and repeating the same tactics while expecting a different result. So being unproductive can sometimes be the most productive move you can make. Take a brief job search vacation to recharge and reassess.”
The idea of professional networking tends to bring to mind stuffy people in business attire and name tags, standing around a table with hummus and stale carrots, trying to make awkward small talk with strangers who may or may not know of job opportunities for you.
But networking today is a lot different from what it was like a few years ago, and networking events take many forms. In fact, while in-person networking is traditionally seen as the gold standard, more and more people are reaping the benefits of online networking. Consider the following elements that make up networking in the age of smartphones and 24/7 connectivity.
Up until recently, career fairs and in-person networking events were the best ways to connect with hiring managers and meet new people who might know of job openings. But today, social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ have make it easier than ever to not only find out about new positions, but also connect and build relationships with other industry professionals. Try the following tactics to grow your network online.
Ask for help. Unless you’re trying to keep your job search a secret, don’t be shy about letting your friends and followers know you’re in the market for a new position. Be specific about the type of position you’re looking for, and how many years of experience you have. Even if someone doesn’t know of a position right now, they may be able to refer you to someone who does.
Clean up your profile.Just as you would try to appear as professional as possible at an in-person networking event, you want to present your best self online. After all, it’s now common practice for employers to check out candidates on social media. Go into your social media profiles and look for ways to highlight your talents and strengths. Remove any videos, photos or posts that could be perceived as less than professional.
Join community groups. Consider joining Facebook or MeetUp groups that match your career interests to connect with others and find in-person events to build those relationships further.
Online portfolios, visual resumes and personal landing pages make it easier than ever to show recruiters and hiring managers that you are more than just your resume. Simply include a link to your website on your social media accounts, business cards or resume. Online portfolios aren’t just for creative types, either. If you work on cars, for example, you might post photographs of the evolution of an automobile you’ve rebuilt, along with the steps you took. Or if you’re a writer, sharing your work samples can be a great way to get eyes on your ideas. The best part? You don’t need to be a coding genius. Thanks to websites like VisualCV, Wix, Webnode and Squarespace, it’s easy and inexpensive to build your own website and highlight your skills and accomplishments.
Online networking events
Networking isn’t just about finding out about jobs, but about learning and getting career advice from people who’ve been there before you. Today, you can meet and ask questions of other industry professionals across the country from the comfort of your own home.Webinars have come a long way from static PowerPoint presentations. Most webinar platforms now have built-in chat capabilities where attendees can ask questions, make comments and engage with other attendees. Sites like BrightTALK and Webinara let you search for webinar topics that meet your interest and sign up to be notified of future events. For more immediate online networking opportunities, check out Twitter hashtag chats to engage in conversation with other like-minded individuals.
Today, building your professional networking is as easy as swiping right, thanks to the emergence of networking apps. Like dating apps, networking apps enable you to find and connect with other like-minded professionals in your area – from the convenience of your smartphone. For instance, Shapr suggests 10 to 15 people to connect with each day, based on your professional experience and interests. Swipe on the ones you want to connect with and, if the feeling is mutual, you can get in touch within seconds. Or for those who want to network at a moment’s notice, there’s CityHour, which helps you find people within a 50 mile radius who can meet in the next two hours. On the larger scale, there’s Bizzabo, which lets you search conferences in your area and then connects you with other attendees, so you can meet up at the event.
Going from “employee” to “manager” is one of the clearest upward career moves you can make. In terms of day-to-day tasks and necessary skills, it also may be the biggest career change you’ll ever make. If you’re considering taking on a managerial position for the first time, here are a few tips to help you make the transition successfully:
Don’t boss, lead
Landing a management job may make you the boss, but it’s up to you to become a leader. The first step is understanding the difference.
“There’s a tendency for first-time managers to micromanage and ‘show them who’s boss,’ which are both mistakes,” says Jason Lavis, partner and webmaster at Drillers, which provides professional support for workers in drilling, oil and gas. “The reason for doing this is obvious; the micromanaging helps prevent any disasters. The authoritarianism can help prevent staff taking advantage. The problem with this approach is that it sets the wrong tone. When treated this way, normally cordial people will turn passive aggressive, and relationships will get damaged.”
Instead of a “show them who’s boss” mentality, Lavis suggests new managers adopt a “show them who’s leader” mentality. “A new manager should exude the mindset that he or she plans to help everyone as much as they can, a servant leader. Giving people the freedom to continue what they’re doing will encourage them to work to a higher standard. The vulnerability in admitting that you’re new, and need their help as much as they might need yours, will foster team spirit.”
Know your team
There will almost never be a one-size-fits-all solution to managing a team. Just as you have your own way of processing and sharing information, communicating and working, so does each member of your team. As a manager, it’s crucial that you make an effort to understand those preferences.
“Who are your team members? Not just their names, how much experience they have and their job descriptions,” says Laura Handrick, HR analyst at Fit Small Business. “[Get to know] who they are as people, their personality type, how they prefer to communicate, what drives them to do a good job. If you know these things, you’ll be much better prepared to step into the management role.”
A new world of responsibilities
While you may be focused on the new feeling of being in charge of a group of employees, in many cases the biggest change will be your role outside of and on behalf of the team.
“My favorite tip is that your job as a manager is to buffer your employees from the ‘crap’ that rolls downhill. It’s your job to provide tools, remove barriers and help clear obstacles so your workers can get their job done,” Handrick says. “That may mean you ask for help from HR to ensure employees are paid properly or have the right office chair. When corporate drama or company miscommunication occurs, you interpret it for your employees to reduce their stress. Your job is to manage the ‘human capital’ by working with each person, not as an automaton, but as a human being with goals and skills, but also with stress, family and fears.”
Look for help
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Just because you’re in a role with more authority and responsibility doesn’t mean you automatically have all the answers. In fact, it’s more important than ever that you seek advice when you’re unsure about something. And there are plenty of ways to get whatever assistance you need.
“Does your company offer any business training classes? If so, sign up! These classes will help fill in any skills gaps,” says Pamela Shand, CEO of career coaching services firm Offer Stage Consulting. “Adopt a mentor who’s been where you’re going and can share some tips and tricks. Remember that you’re not alone. Network with other new and experienced managers to share experiences.”