Help me land my dream job!
February 20, 2012 8:41 AM   Subscribe

HRfilter: How do I apply for a supervisor position in my field without any supervisory experience? I fulfill and exceed all other requirements, and I just need to convince HR that I'm very ready to lead. Please help!

I have found my dream job and I have about a week to put together a stunning resume and cover letter. Without going into specifics, the job entails supervising a team much the same as those I have been on throughout my experience. Here is the good:
*I have several years of experience in the field, in a variety of capacities (volunteer, intern, full-time, part-time, overseas, domestic), with good references.

*I am finishing up a M.A. programme in the same field, and my dissertation is about the very project on which I would be working. When I saw the job posting, I nearly fell over with excitement.

*I have boundless enthusiasm and passion for this work, and many ideas about how I could contribute in this position. I don't think I'll have much trouble getting that across.

The difficult:
*The job is a supervisory position. I would be expected to hire and train staff and balance budgets, while reporting to managing staff. I managed a cafe ten years ago (in which I did all of those things), but all of my recent and relevant experience has been on a team (though I did lead projects), or working alone off-site.

Supervisory experience is not required, but I think I need to convey my readiness to handle such a position. In my field there isn't a lot of hand-holding, so I expect my lack of management experience to stand out as a big red flag. Here are my questions:
1. What skills/abilities would make an HR person feel comfortable giving me a shot as a supervisor in the absence of that title on my CV? Effective teamwork? Effective independent work? Project development (based on my own ideas)? I'm particularly nervous about the budgeting aspect--I have very tangential experience in that area.

2. What qualities (that I may already possess and can play up) make a good supervisor, particularly in non-profit management?

Thank you kindly for any and all advice--I'll update if I land an interview!
posted by sundaydriver to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, I forgot to add that I have done lots of training (of peers) as part of my job, just not of my own team!
posted by sundaydriver at 8:45 AM on February 20, 2012

Any leadership experience at all should be highlighted and talked up - project leads, peer training, taking initiative to proactively identify and solve a problem, etc. are all a plus.

IME budgeting is a necessary evil, not something to be overly scrutinized at the interview phase (unless you work in that area of course!), so I wouldn't stress too much about that particular aspect of the job. It's one of those things that you can always ask for help from the budget or finance office when the time comes if you're stuck.

Assuming you get an interview, you'll really need to come up with a few concrete examples of your previous leadership and be able to explain how they translate into your ability to be a real manager in addition to completing your own tasks.

Good luck!
posted by trivia genius at 8:49 AM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

The unfortunate reality is that most companies don't hire based on what you can do. They hire based on what you have done. So play up the supervisory experience the best you can, even if it is volunteer. The employer will probably need to believe you have managed staffs, budgets, etc. for you to even get to the first interview. In this economy, they don't have to settle when hiring. Odds are they'll be over run with over qualified candidates, which makes it especially difficult for the marginally under qualified candidate (on paper anyway) to get fair shot.
posted by COD at 10:25 AM on February 20, 2012

Fewer and fewer companies are willing to train on the job for corporate positions. I'm not going to sugarcoat this, unless you had the skills already, your resume is ripe for being passed over. That's the reality nowadays, even if you were an internal candidate.

So you'll need to show them you already know how to do what they are going to ask you to do in this role, and you should manage your resume and your interview as such.

Use numbers, not catch phrase, because numbers turn heads. Do not say "I have boundless enthusiasm and passion for this work." Say "I led Project X that saved the company 3.4 million dollars."

Don't lie. But you'd be surprised how much "supervising" and "budget management" you've already done in your prior and current roles.
posted by lstanley at 11:30 AM on February 20, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks all, this is good advice so far. I'm not currently working due to school, but I am enrolled in a leadership training course being offered to post-graduates on campus. I don't what I'll get out of it, but maybe it will help clarify the skills I already have and can emphasize.

lstanley: I agree with you about numbers-- I include hard data on my resume, and will do so in my cover letter. I certainly don't plan to use the flowery language of my post, but thanks for pointing out the difference.
posted by sundaydriver at 12:04 PM on February 20, 2012

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