How to get your first management job

Which ever section of the automotive industry you work in, moving into a mangement job may well be a career goal. But how do you make the crucial first step into a management role when you have no management experience?

Here at Copeland, I’ve been helping automotive industry employees step up into management or leadership roles for over 20 years. In this article I’ll share my top tips on how to make yourself ‘managment ready’.

The role of a manager

For the purpose of this article I will focus on the role of managing a team. The role of a people manager includes planning, organising, recruiting and leading. That said I believe the biggest ability of a great people manager is to be a leader who can get the very best out of their team members and turn them into high performers.

Why employers want management experience

Employers need reassurance that their chosen candidate will be capable of fulfilling the role and tasks asked of them. The biggest ‘leap of faith’ will often be moving someone into their first management role. Whether you’re applying for management jobs with your current employer or looking externally you’ll need to convince the hiring team that you have management potential and possess the skills and experience needed to be a successful manager.

What skills do managers need?

So what are the key skills needed to be a people manager? Here of some the most common skills the automotive industry employers I work with ask for when hiring people managers:

  • Communication & interpersonal skills
  • Organisation and project management
  • Leadership
  • Coaching skills
  • Strategic thinking
  • Decision making

How to get management skills

If you have not previously been employed in a management role how can you demonstrate that you possess the required skills? Lets take each skill and consider how you could demonstrate existing, or gain new, experience. Remember to include experience you have gained both inside and outside the workplace.

Communication & interpersonal skills

You will have developed your communication skills throughout your education, personal and working life. These skills can be improved by observing how managers in your organisation (or other leaders you respect) communicate and trying to emulate them. A critical step on your way to becoming a manager is start behaving like one.

Organisation and project management skills

Look for opportunities to develop and demonstrate these skills within your current role. Volunteer to help manage projects, ask your manager what additional responsibilities you could take on. Most managers will be delighted to delegate tasks to a competent team member – make sure it’s you they choose. Outside the workplace you could take on a voluntary organisational role eg planning an event.


Look for opportunities to lead or mentor people – offer to support new employees or interns. You can also demonstrate leadership skills gained during your education or in your hobbies eg Team Captain, Prefect etc. In your personal life if you’re a member of a club, charity or other organisation volunteer to join the committee and take on leadership roles.

Coaching skills

Even if you are not officially in a management role, its likely there will be new or more junior members of your team. Take any opportunities that arise to aid, advice and ‘coach’ team members who need help. Remember that coaching is about boosting confidence and providing a path for success – not doing the job for someone. Start reading about coaching skills to expand your knowledge.

Strategic thinking

Take an active role in team meetings and offer ideas and suggestions to business issues and ways to improve team performance. Get in the habit of offering solutions to work issues showing you have thought through the situation and come up with options of how it should be handled.

Decision making

Rather than always asking your manager for a decision, present your manager with options for potential solutions to issues, targets and challenges. Base your decisions on facts where possible and provide evidence to back-up your decision making. This will demonstrate your ability to asses issues and present solutions – a key management skill.

Next steps

Express your intent

Express your managerial aspirations to your line manager, HR and possibly other managers within your organisation. They can provide honest feedback about your readiness, as well as suggest ways to develop your skills before applying. They might even give you new projects or offer insight into their own experience as a manager.

Consider additional training

Ask your employer if they offer any introduction to management/preparation for management courses or training that you could attend. Explore external courses you could take. The CMI (Chartered Management Institute) offer a range of management courses and qualifications for existing and aspiring managers.

Update your CV

Make sure your CV and covering letter clearly demonstrate your abilities and experience in key management skills. Always carefully read any job advert or job description provided and aim to match your application to the skills & experience asked for.

Start applying for management jobs

When you feel ready (or almost ready) – start applying for management roles. You may well be unsuccessful initially. Don’t let this put you off. The very fact that you have applied shows your intent and hopefully you will be given constructive feedback on where you need to improve/develop. Ideally you will have the opportunity to move into a managerial role within your current organisation. If you are unsuccessful with internal application or there are simply no suitable opportunities, look for management jobs with other organisations.

Further help

Moving into your first management role is a big step for anyone. If you work in the automotive industry and want to progress your career into management Copeland can help. We specialise in sales and marketing jobs in the automotive industry. By carefully selecting the right jobs for our candidates we help them find their next move. Our focus is to help employees throughout their automotive industry career. Learn about our specialisms and how we help employees. If your ready to progress your career register your CV with us.

Further Reading:

How to write a great CV

Career Cheklist

New job success

Get in touch: E: [email protected]   T: 07973 286342

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