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Are you ready for a senior role? 10 tips for getting prepared

If you're waiting until you're a 100% perfect fit for a senior role, chances are you've already outgrown it. Here's how to know when to take the leap.

We've all seen a job we really wanted and thought: 'There's no way they'd consider me. I only meet two-thirds of the criteria'.


But as globally experienced executive coach Revel Gordon explains, that's exactly when you should be applying for more senior roles.


“If you've got 100% of the experience and capability needed, where is the stretch? You want a role with areas where you can grow and develop,” Gordon says.


Don't believe us? Here's a fun fact


In 2010, Italian researchers were awarded an IG Nobel Prize for a study that demonstrated mathematically that organisations would become more efficient if they promoted people at random.


The moral of the story? Even if you don’t believe in yourself, random chance says you're as good a candidate as anybody else for that next big promotion.


A not-so-fun fact


Research shows that women are more likely to get passed for promotions than their male counterparts. That said, forewarned is forearmed.


Below are Gordon's top ten tips that women – and anyone else – can use to maximise their chances of landing a senior role:


1. Build strong, positive relationships with colleagues


“There are some unfortunate stereotypes that apply almost exclusively to hard working, career-driven women. They're not fair, but they happen.


“But by creating strong, collaborative relationships, it's hard for anyone to paint you in a bad light because other people will say 'She's great to work with, she's supportive and we like working with her'.”


2. Rate your relationships


“Write down the names of your boss, colleagues, and other key stakeholders, and then rate your relationship with each person out of ten. If any relationship is a two, three, or four, think about what you could do to improve it.”


3. Look for opportunities with key stakeholders


“If you hear about a project or initiative that you care about – especially if it has an executive sponsor – put your hand up. It's a great way to be noticed and to broaden your network in an authentic, organic way.”


4. Let management know


“If your boss or CEO asks: 'What would you like to do in your next role?' Have an answer ready. Craft something like: 'Thanks for asking, I'm really happy and engaged with what I'm doing at the moment, but if a role like X, Y or Z ever came up I'd be really keen to take it on'.”


5. Think about why you might not get promoted


“Are there any significant skill or experience gaps that may make it harder for you to get promoted, and how might you address these? For example, if you have not yet had the opportunity to manage a P&L report, you might consider a sideways move that gives you line management experience.”

One of the most powerful self-development exercises when preparing for a senior role is to notice how you react in certain situations. That way you can start making choices around the ways you react, which is a core capability and something the very best leaders develop to an incredibly high level.

6. Be a buyer not a seller


“If you're happy with the organisation, culture and team that you're currently with, you should set the bar pretty high before being tempted to leave. If a good offer from another company comes up, certainly consider it, but don't go splashing your CV all over town.”


7. Interview prep


“Think about the experiences and skills your company will look for. Prepare one or two crisp vignettes that speak to each of those things using the STAR method. Also, list out the questions you're likely to be asked and prepare answers.”


8. Do mock interviews


“Is there someone you trust to really put you through your paces and give you honest feedback about your presentation? This can be invaluable. Another technique is to video yourself answering questions and then watch yourself. Are you bringing enough energy? Are your answers on point?”


9. Know your numbers


“For senior roles, you need a solid understanding of the numbers. If you haven't got that background you might want to think about doing a short course that will give you a good understanding of how a balance sheet, P&L and Statement of Cash Flows all work together.”


10. Make choices about your reactions


“One of the most powerful self-development exercises when preparing for a senior role is to notice how you react in certain situations. That way you can start making choices around the ways you react, which is a core capability and something the very best leaders develop to an incredibly high level.”

Disclaimer
Colonial First State Investments Limited ABN 98 002 348 352, AFS Licence 232468 (Colonial First State) is the issuer of super, pension and investment products. This document may include general advice but does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. You should read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) carefully and assess whether the information is appropriate for you and consider talking to a financial adviser before making an investment decision. A PDS for Colonial First State’s products are available at colonialfirststate.com.au or by calling us on 13 13 36.