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6 Ways to Land Your First Management Job

If you want to land your first management job, here are 4 strategies on how to do it, whether or not you have the experience.

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If you want to land your first management job, here are 4 strategies on how to do it, whether or not you have the experience.


Have you ever looked at your boss while they were in their element and thought, “Hmm, I could see myself doing that.” From the outside looking in, a management role may seem easy, but maybe that’s because the people in these positions make it look easy. This is probably why they got the job in the first place - the elements of the job come easily to them.

But let’s get back to you.

Why do you want to land your first management job? The “why” is the most important thing to think about. Of course, such a position will come with a pay bump, but does the prospect of managing people actually excite you? 

Yes, you’ve worked at that company for 5+ years and now you feel like it’s time to step into a high-level role, but you must also show your suitability for getting people excited to work together towards a common goal. That’s what a leader does. At the same time, you also have to keep each person’s goals and interests in mind to help them grow and make achievements individually. Doesn’t sound so easy now, does it?

So your reasons for wanting to land your first management job must be clear from the start. If you’re not drawn to the task of leading others and helping your direct teams advance their own professional development, perhaps management is not for you. After all, not everybody is meant to be a manager….and that’s okay! There are lots of higher-level jobs that don’t require people management. 

Landing your first managerial role can seem daunting, but by knowing how to position yourself for the job, you can set yourself up for success. For such an endeavour, an employer will likely want to see some relevant experience on your CV. They will be impressed by someone who can quickly and confidently step into a leadership role so having experience in similar roles is a bonus. 

But what if you’ve never held a management position before? You still have to start somewhere, right? Here are some helpful tips to boost your application so you can land your first management job. 


1. Showcase your relevant experience and transferable skills 

Being a manager is not just about overseeing junior staff. Anyone in such a position also has to be comfortable with essentials tasks like:


  • Coaching and training people 

  • Giving presentations 

  • Developing and interpreting policies or processes 

  • Recruiting and interviewing 

  • Creating timelines or schedules

  • Overseeing projects from start to finish

If you’ve been playing your professional cards right, there’s a chance you’ve been exposed to a few of these responsibilities during your career. Now all you need to do is know how to explain (on your CV and in-person) how your experience translates into a leadership role. You can do this by playing up your transferable leadership and management skills. 

If you’ve:


  • Planned and executed an event from start to finish 

  • Pitched a new initiative to management

  • Collaborated on the rollout of a new departmental policy 

  • Presented at a company training

  • Assisted with onboarding a new hire

…then you already have some legit management-level experience to brag (humbly) about. 

Highlighting such skills and projects on your CV and cover letter and being prepared to talk about them in any interview will help recruiters see your leadership potential. It also helps to understand the inner workings of your current role, industry, and team dynamic when navigating your first management job. 

You can also feature your management expertise by adding relevant skills, total years of experience, and industries you’ve worked into your CV and online profiles. And don’t forget to share relevant content on your socials!


Read also: 5 Proven Tips for Tailoring Your CV for Managerial Roles (and 5 Must-Have Management Skills) 


2. Take an extra course (or better yet, a leadership qualification)

If you feel like your list of transferable skills is a bit light or you just want to beef up your management skills, consider working on a certification or taking a management class. It could be worth the investment. Not to mention potential employers will be impressed that you took the initiative to get a leadership certification. This shows you have the commitment and insights for a management role even if you’ve never had one before. 

You can include the certifications in your CV even if you’re yet to complete them - just make sure you indicate that the coursework is still in progress. There are free online courses you can do in your free time. You can also invest in a paid course if you have spare cash. Just do some research to find the one that best suits you. 


3. Be ready to show (and tell) others why you’re ready

During interviews, you’ll be asked why you want to step into a management role, so you need to have a great answer ready to go. Do you want to challenge yourself? Are you bursting at the seams with awesome process-improvement ideas? Or maybe you’re just passionate about employee development. 

Regardless of the reasons, be ready to explain why you want it, how you know you’re ready, the transferable experience you’re bringing to the table, and why a potential employer should give you a chance. 

On the other hand, you also need to be realistic about how well your qualifications align with the job requirements. For example, if the position will require you to manage a staff of 20 people and you’ve never led a team before, it might not be the best fit. Targeting opportunities that will enable you to manage functions you’re already familiar with will likely boost your chances of being considered. 


4. Go for an internal promotion

Another great way to get your feet wet in management is to aim for an internal promotion if you want to stay at your current workplace. (This is how I actually landed my first management role.) You might even have a head start over external candidates because the hiring team knows you already. Even if there’s no open management role, there are other things you can do to get on your higher-ups' radar. 

A. Keep being good at your job

No one will put you in charge if you can’t even do the job you were hired for. This is step number one. Even if you’re not the best, just make sure you’re good. Bonus points if you keep improving your performance with time. 

B. You’ll have to do your homework

Find out what your manager does. Watch your supervisors work their magic and learn how they do it. Shadow them if you have to. Read books on leadership and management to learn the dos and don’ts of being a boss. Ask questions of any managers within your network. Always keep learning. This is one of the marks of a great leader. 


Read also: What People Get Wrong About Learning on The Job (and 5 Ways to Do it Better) 


C. Build your people skills

One of my current favourite TV shows, Abbott Elementary, has a character named Gregory, who applied to be a principal at the school but was employed as a teacher instead, despite having the required qualifications. Becoming principal is still on his radar though. 

Anyway, one day he admits to one of his colleagues, Melissa, that he doesn’t talk to every single person in the school because he doesn’t understand what small talk has to do with leadership. To which Melissa responds, “Pretty strong words for a wannabe principal. You don’t have to be best friends with everybody but it doesn’t hurt to be able to shoot the breeze.” 

The ability to manage people and learn how to function, react, and think when faced with different outside forces and characters is a crucial skill for any manager. You have to develop respect for everyone. Learn how to work and interact with people then you can learn how to influence their behaviour. You can’t be promoted to a management position if you can’t manage people. That’s a recipe for failure. 


Read also: 5 Key People Skills You Need to Succeed in a People-Oriented Job When You’re Not a People Person 


D. Show some initiative 

If you want to land a management role, you can’t just sit at your desk and wait for it to be handed to you. Show initiative. Planning is a key management skill so volunteer to help your boss prepare for an upcoming project or meeting by collecting the necessary info. Offer to help put together a presentation for the project or take on any extra work assignments you can without negatively impacting your performance in your primary role.

You can also practice and learn new management skills and experience by doing some volunteer work. Volunteering can expose you to other companies which can hire you or recommend you for your first management job elsewhere. 

E. Ask for the job

This is the last piece of the puzzle. If you want to be considered for a management role, ask for it. Approach your boss and make your pitch, with the tips mentioned above. Tell them you’d like to follow their example and transition into management. Ask them to keep you in mind if they ever need someone to lead a team or head up a committee. This way, they’ll know you’re interested and keep you on their radar. 

When they notice you can handle the smaller things, they’ll start delegating larger things to you eventually leading up to a supervisory or management role. Also, keep an eye on the internal (or external) company openings; if you see a management role on the list, go for it. 


In conclusion…

Just be confident in your qualifications and yourself even if you don’t meet all the preferred job requirements. Your ability to show you can be a manager, your initiative, and your motivation for the job will help you stand out to recruiters or even your boss. 

Written by

Sandra Musonge

Sandra Musonge is a part-time writer at Fuzu with over five years of experience under her belt, helping numerous B2B and B2C clients with their content needs. She writes to inspire and not just to inform. Her educational background in Biochemistry has given her a broad base from which to approach many topics. You can find her enjoying nature or trying out new recipes when she isn't writing.

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