If you are looking for a leadership or supervisory role in your field, but lack the prerequisite of prior supervisory experience, it can be a challenge to find your desired position. Most job descriptions will usually require 1-3 years of experience at a minimum, where you function as the supervisory authority. Often times the qualifications are even more rigid and will require 3-5 years of experience in this type of role. That leaves many qualified candidates scratching their heads— how does a person who may be qualified for this position show leadership when they have not held a supervisory role? You may currently work for an organization where there is no room for upward mobility. Maybe the person who has a leadership position in your department is actually pretty good at their job and you are waiting for an opportunity to arise. This is a common frustration that I hear from clients who are ready and capable of moving to a leadership role, but lack the opportunity. This type of situation is especially common amongst young professionals between the ages of 25-35. Often the person who holds the leadership role at their places of employment are years away from retirement age. These young professionals often become discouraged because they feel like they are stuck in a place where they have no room to grow. In a world where stagnation is often equated to death, the last thing an up-and-coming professional wants to display is the lack of growth. Here are a few tips to help you in landing a leadership role in an organization.
1. Emphasize Leadership On Work Projects
Even if you are not the one who has the final say so in your department you can still play a key role in the success of your organization. You may have been assigned to a leadership role on an important project at work, even if you weren’t, there could be times that you remember that you bared the majority of the responsibility. If you acted as the team lead on projects then you may have actually had to supervise other members and perhaps even delegate duties to ensure that the work was performed effectively. If possible ask for more responsibilities at work, especially opportunities to head projects and display leadership. Be sure to showcase these projects on your resume. You may also want to get involved with committees—this will allow you to possibly play an active role in bringing positive change to your organization.
2. Show Results
There are many ways to show leadership. Perhaps you came up with scores of innovative ideas that brought positive change and results to your organization. Don’t be shy, add your accomplishments to your resume—remember the point is to show that you are an out of the box creative thinker that produces results. If you’ve received awards or have been recognized for accomplishments be sure to include it. Professional honors can intrigue a hiring manager to give you a call even when you don’t have the supervisory experience.
3. Get Involved With Outside Activities
People often throw out the idea of volunteering to gain experience and often times my clients say to me they just don’t have the time. Truly, I understand their sentiment, between family, work, running a start-up business, and various other responsibilities I find myself with a time deficit as well. However, if you are serious about landing that leadership role and you know you don’t have the experience, then you have to do what you can to gain the needed experience. Maybe volunteer to serve as a board member. By volunteering for projects in your community, as an aspiring executive, you can gain the experience and networking opportunities that could lead to a great position within the company you are volunteering for.
4. Write a Compelling Cover-Letter
Writing a cover-letter that really emphasizes your leadership abilities and highlighting some of the things that your resume may not show will help tremendously when you lack a bit in the “leadership” department. Don’t bore the reader with a generic cookie-cutter cover letter. Tell about projects that you have worked on, committees that you are a part of, show results and innovative ideas that you’ve implemented, and speak to your outside involvement in volunteer activities. Even though you may have added some of this experience in your resume, if the hiring manager is looking for actual held positions at your place of employment, your cover letter gives you a chance to explain in further detail the qualities that you possess that make you a competitive and qualified candidate for the position.
Everyone is not in a position to move into a supervisory position at work for various reasons. The key is to identify and set your career goals as early as possible. If you know that you want to grow into a supervisory role, then you must do what you can to add supervisory experience to your resume by taking on leadership responsibilities both inside your place of employment or if necessary outside. If you are working for an organization where there is no opportunity for upward mobility, then you may want to look at opportunities within other organizations as well.