Stepping up to the plate on a full-time basis

Q: I have been working as office manager in a company for the past three months – without actually getting the stripes. The situation was that the previous office manager took ill and they recruited me on a temporary basis to take over the job. Initially, there was some resentment among the other three people in the office – at least two of whom might have felt they should have got the job. But that has now dissipated and we have a happy working environment. One of the two even confided in me that he was glad I had come in as he didn’t feel he would be able to do the job as good I can. Anyway, that’s not my reason for writing to you. What’s bugging me now is that the job is now to be filled on a full-time basis. I had hoped I would get the job without it being advertised, but it has been advertised locally in the media. What should I do? Does this mean they don’t think my face fits? (RK, email)

A: First off, well done on settling the ship there. Tensions with disaffected employees who felt they should have got the job can cause a great deal of difficulty for someone like you who is parachuted in over their heads. It says something about you that in just three months you have turned that around – and I would be very surprised if your employers didn’t notice that too.

What should you do? Apply for the job. Prepare as professionally as you possibly can. Approach it like you would any other job you would go for – use the CV and interview stages as opportunities to show the employer you have what it takes to do the job.

Look at it from the employer’s perspective. They may be sold on you, but want to keep you on your toes – they might see the whole process as a kind of ‘renewal of our marriage vows.’ They may wish to ‘mark the spot’ where you moved from temporary to part-time. They may even wish to use the process to re-negotiate financial terms if they have been paying you ‘over and above’ for bailing them out over the last few months.

Ultimately, though, you can’t second-guess what they are thinking. You can only put yourself in the position of competing as effectively as you can for the job. Tell them the successes you have had in previous roles. Tell them the successes you have had in this role. Tell them your plans for this role.

Make them aware that you have really enjoyed working for them, and the challenge of getting on top of the whole office management role. Illustrate to them that tensions have vanished and that you now have a harmonious office where everybody is contributing to overall effectiveness.

Let them see you have ideas about how the office functioning can be stream-lined. Present yourself as somebody who will continue to bring value to the company.

You have the advantage of being in there already. By and large, companies (particularly smaller ones) have little time or appetite for training in new people, so possession should be nine-tenths of the law.

But you won’t get it just because you’re there. Promise future performance – and link it to past performance. Finally, on the day of the interview, claim the right to ‘sell yourself’ even though you will know the people on the other side of the table. Don’t lapse into informality just because you feel a bit bashful about ‘talking yourself up’ in front of them.

Sli Nua Careers offer CV writing, interview training, mock interview and career direction services at their offices in Galway, Dublin and Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. You can also obtain their free eBook providing Job Searching Tips by emailing with Job Searching eBook in the subject line. More: