Career coach

I am currently working as a divisional HR manager in a major manufacturing company and there’s a post available for overall HR director. I have several years’ experience but I fear they’ll choose an external candidate over me who can bring in wider commercial experience. How can I convince my superiors of my suitability for the role at interview?

I’m slightly concerned that you have already decided which way the selectors are going to jump – you may well already be some way down the line to talking yourself out of the job. You might at least take an honest run at it rather than assuming the worst from the outset.

If it turns out that you are reading the runes accurately, this may be a wake-up call for your career. The most obvious conclusion is that you probably need to broaden your commercial experience if you hope to be a credible candidate for a role at this level. Have you actively planned for this next step, or did you assume that it would fall into your lap?

My recommendation, even if your reading of the situation is right, is that your best bet is to make a strong internal application.

Try a double strategy. First, be very clear about the problems your employer is trying to solve by filling this post (particularly if you believe that it needs broader commercial acumen). Work hard on the selection criteria and offer a point-for-point match.

The second approach complements the first: revitalise your CV and interview performance to offer a very different perspective to the way your colleagues normally see you.

Getting your organisation to see you differently and to value what you have to offer may surprise them into offering you the job, or at least make them rethink what they can offer you in the event they turn you down.

By John Lees, career strategist and author

John Lees is one of the UK’s best-known career coaches and the author of the best-selling How To Get A Job You’ll Love (McGraw-Hill).The book is now available in its 2007-08 edition. See for more information.

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