How to Land a Management Position (When You’ve Never Been a Manager)

Management Position

Are you ready to make the leap into a management position? Have you spent many months or years supervising or leading others? Or, do you have a track record of success as an individual contributor and know that you have the communication and leadership skills to be an effective manager? When you believe that you are ready for a management-level job, there are a few obstacles in your way. How do you compete with other job candidates who have more management experience? How can you demonstrate that you have what it takes, so a company feels comfortable taking a chance on you?

Most life sciences professionals experience feelings of doubt, anxiety or stress when thinking about a management job search if they haven’t held that title before. Without the right strategy, it's common for job candidates to receive numerous rejection emails in response to their submissions and start to lose confidence. While talking to a mentor or coach can be helpful, there are also some practical things you can do to increase your odds of success. Here are three tips to help you land a management position when you’ve never been a manager!

Highlight your management and leadership skills on professional documents

How do you feel about your resume and cover letter? Do you think they are compelling enough to help you secure job interviews for manager-level roles? In the past, we’ve covered using keywords in your resume to help it score highly in technology scans. It’s important to remember that while you’re highlighting your supervisory and management skills in your documents, you want to include any relevant keywords that you see in online job postings of interest. If you haven’t technically had any management responsibilities in the past, think about any cross-functional teams you’ve led. You can incorporate those experiences, along with management of special projects into your documents.

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Demonstrate your leadership skills throughout online profiles

Would someone looking at your online profiles on social media and various job sites be able to see that you are a leader? Unfortunately, most people just copy and paste from their job descriptions into their online profiles. As a result, they usually sound like everyone else and are not memorable. Taking the time to include details about your accomplishments, achievements, and key contributions can help you stand out. If you have trouble with this, go back and review your past performance reviews. How could you incorporate the situations where you went above and beyond what was required of you in a leadership or management capacity?

Sharpen your interview skills

We recently explored the importance of completing background research as you prepare for an interview. When applying for a management position, you should know as much as possible about the company and job. The competition will probably be very stiff, as you are in essence competing with others who might have more practical management experience. The other candidates might even currently hold the management title you are applying for. The key for you is to be able to speak about the leadership and management experience that you do have in a way that is directly applicable to the job you are applying for. A great way to do that involves using the STAR Method to prepare for behavioral interviews.

Have you decided that you’re ready to make the transition into being a manager?  If so, then you’ve probably noticed a few challenges with landing a management position, when you haven’t been a manager before. Many organizations want to see your leadership skills, which can be difficult to emphasize. First, highlighting the appropriate experience on your resume and cover letter is necessary. Then, ensure that your professional presentation and leadership skills are consistent throughout your online profiles. Finally, sharpening your interviewing skills can be helpful to set yourself apart from other candidates (who might have more experience than you). How are you planning to increase your odds of securing a management position?    

Porschia Parker-Griffin is a Certified Coach, Professional Resume Writer, and Founder of Fly High Coaching. ( She empowers ambitious professionals and motivated executives to add $10K on average to their salaries.

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