Your Career Q&A: Are You Manager Material?

By Martin Yate Aug 9, 2016
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​Columnist Martin Yate

This week's column explores what it takes to be considered for an HR manager position. Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column. 

I'm not referred to as an HR generalist, but I would consider my duties to be described as those of an HR generalist. I have a master's degree in public administration, and I am halfway through my master's degree in HR management. I have recently taken the SHRM-CP examination.

A recent reorganization of my company eliminated a number of positions and opportunities to be promoted from within. I have been looking at different HR manager postings just to see if my skills meet the requirements for the position. I have noticed that many of the postings are asking for supervisor experience. My position is not that of a manager/supervisor; however, I oversee and advise at six sites in three states with 190 employees, of which 26 are administrative assistants and local managers. Additionally, I have been proactive in honing my computer skills. Still, I feel that maybe I should look for a position with the title of HR generalist before seeking an HR manager role.

Salary is also an issue. I currently make approximately $80,000 a year with excellent benefits. I have reached my maximum salary for my current title and now I'm only eligible for annual merit increases. I have many years left to work and do not want to sit in a job with no salary increases, but many of the jobs I have seen posted do not even offer my current salary. How do I move up without sacrificing income?

Stephanie, 

New York City

Overseeing and advising the performance of 190 people, 26 of whom are managers and administrative staff, across six separate facilities in three states puts you squarely in the "supervisor/management" category. Monitoring and advising is a gnat's whisker away from supervising, and with a widely dispersed workforce, it can be spoken about in this way.

A supervisor is responsible for the performance of a group working on a project or on an ongoing basis; the only generally agreed upon difference between a manager and a supervisor is that a manager has the added responsibility of hiring and firing.

I have a strong feeling that if your resume tells the story with the right messaging, it will convince a recruiter that you are definitely someone worth talking to. In other words, when you write a resume, it should be with the needs of the target job in mind and should highlight what you bring to those stated needs. 

Whenever you see a job worth applying for, customize and edit your primary resume to fit that particular opportunity. The result? You'll have a job-targeted resume and the right to go after a supervisory role. At the same time, with a little tweaking, your primary resume can be readily adapted to go after HR generalist roles as well. If the job is worth applying for, it is worth customizing your resume to match the priorities and language of the job posting.

There's a book called Knock 'em Dead Hiring the Best: Proven Tactics for Successful Employee Selection (I think the author is a guy called Martin Yate), about employee selection and day-to-day management issues. This would be a good refresher on all the skills both supervisors and managers need in their jobs. While a supervisor doesn't have hiring or firing responsibilities, he or she is usually involved in both processes. Read the book and you'll likely pick up some needed skills for climbing the professional ladder, and you'll probably realize that you already have what it takes to throw your hat into the ring. It's a tough world, Stephanie, and if you don't go for it, someone else will.

Regarding your salary question: If you move up, a salary increase should invariably be part of the deal, but don't get ahead of yourself—you have nothing to consider until an offer is on the table, and even then you don't have to accept any offer that doesn't fit your needs. So I say, "Go for it!"

Have a question for Martin about advancing or managing your career? From big issues to small, please feel free to e-mail your queries to YourCareerQA@shrm.org. We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know. 

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