first management role




Without years of previous experience to rely on, making those first steps move into the world of management can be difficult. While you may feel confident in your own ability to lead, the tricky part is convincing someone else to give you a chance when you haven’t already proven yourself.


While there’s no magic formula for landing a management role, there are a few things you can do to help employers see your potential.


Emphasise your transferable skills

Being a manager involves much more than just overseeing junior staff. You also have to be comfortable with training and coaching, giving presentations, developing and interpreting policies or processes, recruiting and interviewing, creating schedules or timelines, and overseeing projects from start to finish.


You’ve most likely already had exposure to at least a few of these types of responsibilities throughout your career. Your task is now to get comfortable explaining how this experience makes you a good fit for the leadership position you are applying for.


If you’ve assisted with new hire onboarding, presented at a company training, collaborated on a new departmental policy rollout, pitched a new initiative to leadership, or planned and executed an event from start to finish, you’ve already got some legitimate management-level experience under your belt. Use it to your advantage. Ensure these skills and projects feature prominently on your cover letter and CV and prepare to talk about them in greater detail during the interview.


Highlight your expertise


If you feel ready to take on a management role, chances are you probably already have significant industry knowledge and a solid insight into your current position, team, and department as a whole. Knowing how to leverage this expertise in the right way can help you get your foot in the door when competing against those with previous leadership experience. Understanding the ins and outs of your current position, the dynamic of your team, and the nature of your industry will be invaluable as you navigate your first management role. These also happen to be traits of a great supervisor.


Build out your skill set with further education


If you feel you are lacking transferable experience or want to strengthen your leadership skills, consider taking a management class or working toward a certification. It is best to choose a course with a curriculum that matches up with the required skills on the job descriptions you are currently looking at. Prospective employers will likely be impressed that you took the initiative to sharpen your skills, and it’s a great way to show your commitment. You can include ongoing training on your CV –just be sure to indicate that the coursework is in progress.


Be ready to explain why you’re ready


You’ll probably get asked why you want to step into a management role a lot throughout your interview process, so it helps to have a well thought-out answer ready to go. Are you passionate about employee development, full of great process-improvement ideas, or eager to challenge yourself?


Whatever your reasons, be prepared to explain why you’re interested, how you know you are ready, what transferable experience you’ll bring to the table, and why a prospective employer should give you a chance. As with any application, you should be realistic about how well your qualifications actually line up with the requirements of a given job posting. For example, if you’ve never led a team before, it’s probably best not to apply for a position where you’d be managing a staff of 20.




Staying within the same industry or targeting opportunities that will allow you to manage functions you are very familiar with will also help to increase your chances of being considered. 


If you feel genuinely ready to take this next step in your career, the most important bit of advice is to fully commit to your decision to work towards this goal and follow-through by focusing on continual personal development. If you apply yourself in this way, over time, your chances of securing a management role will rise considerably.