“JT & Dale Talk Jobs” is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country and can be found at JTandDale.com.
Dear J.T. & Dale: After close to 10 years of work in my field, I quit my full-time job to go back to graduate school for an MBA. I completed the degree and then landed the job I currently have, which is my first managerial job. However, it’s a small company, and I’m the only one in my department. I want to relocate in the next year with my husband, and I’d love to get another managerial job. Do you think employers will take me seriously? — Angela
Dale: You may be interested to learn, Angela, that the most important determinant of leadership success is the desire to be a leader. So I feel certain you’ll do well. Getting there, remember a manager doesn’t solely manage people — she also manages the department’s schedule, standards, purchasing and performance. Thus, even when you’re a department of one, you truly are a manager.
J.T.: To make certain you’re ready for the role of managing people, definitely focus on developing your skills — take a night class, volunteer to run team projects and so on. That way, you can round out your experience in your current position. Then in the future, you’ll be able to apply for management roles with confidence.
Dale: Let me quibble with one piece of that advice — I don’t think taking more classes will be of any use to you; after all, you just got an MBA. Now it’s time to actually manage, and that’s where the rest of J.T.’s advice is spot-on — even if other employees don’t report to you, you can head project teams within the company. Doing so, you get to apply your leadership skills while making it more likely that your current employer will trust you with greater responsibilities. Even if you don’t add staff, when you apply for jobs elsewhere you’ll have leadership experience to discuss in the interview. Remember, while your The Manager title will help you get interviews, it’s the skills (as demonstrated by the examples you relate) that will get you the new job.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the job search blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.
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