10 Steps to Becoming a Manager

I recently saw this question on Reddit: I recently graduated with a degree in business management, but I’m having a hard time finding a management job. I’m not getting any interviews because I have no experience. What can I do?

The tough reality is that degrees don’t land you jobs nearly as much as they used to. No one hires someone fresh out of college as a manager because they have a degree in management. Don’t get discouraged by this, though.

Here is how the system works: They hire someone as a manager because they know the position they are going to manage and have demonstrated leadership ability already in that position (so have already worked it.)

I’m assuming that if you went to school for management, you are interested in becoming a manager and are excited by the prospect of leading people. The good news is that your dream is still possible, it is just going to take more work than you expected.

Here is how you can demonstrate that ability and work your way into a management position:

1: Start at an entry-level position.

Decide what kind of management job you’d ideally like to do in 1.5-2 years. Go get an entry-level job at a company in that field. Show your enthusiasm for the company in the interview and make it clear that you want to grow with the company, so you are going to do everything you can to learn the ropes and provide as much value as possible.

2: The 10% Rule

When you get the job, go above and beyond. Adopt the 10% rule: Do your job plus 10% more than your job every single day.

3: Keep a high standard of communication.

Respond to emails within 24 hours of receiving them. Show up to meetings 5 minutes early. Give status updates on tasks so people don’t worry about them or wonder if they are complete yet. Give your team and your boss weekly updates on long-term projects.

4: Be a complete baller

Complete every single task thrown your way. Don’t let a single thing slip. Be the person who other people at the company can count on completely. When they hand a task to you, you want them to know that they can consider it as good as done. Show up early and leave late. Never miss a day.

5: Turn “we should” into “I did”

Turn “we should” into “I did.” Whenever you see something that needs to be done or would provide value for the company, instead of telling your boss about it in the form of “we should do XYZ”, do it first and then tell your boss, “Hey, I noticed this needed to be done, so I did it.” (Make sure this doesn’t cause your own work to slip, though. Only do this if you are already finishing your own work!)

6: Become a sponge

Own your lack of experience and become a sponge. Learn from as many people at the company as possible. Ask questions. Seek to understand why things are done in a certain way. Step back and look at things in perspective: What does this do for our customers and revenues over time?

7: Write Training Materials

Take notes during your training and write a handbook for your position. Write standard operating procedures. Share the documents with your current management and team members so they become a part of the official training documentation. Keep them updated over time.

8: Lend a helping hand

Volunteer your time and expertise to assist other team members when they are struggling with tasks. (Again, make sure this doesn’t cause your own work to slip. You have to crush your assigned work first.)

9: Volunteer for new projects

Volunteer for new projects when they are announced. Do them to the best of your ability while still completely covering your original job unless specifically told to focus on just the new one.

10: Train new employees

When other new employees join the team after you, mentor them, train in the basics, and show them the ropes. Lift them up and be their leader.

Do these 10 things consistently for the next year and doors will open for you. You’ll have added a ton of value and be in line for a management role when it becomes available. By doing numbers 7, 9, and 10 well, you’ll already be doing management! You’ll probably even be able to make your own position if one didn’t previously exist.