A reader writes:
I have been working for a big multinational company over the past 4 years. One of my colleagues was recently promoted to the position of department manager. She is very smart and competent, but she is only 30 yrs old and doesn’t have experience in managing people, decision making, etc.
I am 11 years older than her and even though I have never worked as a manager either, I have more maturity than her. She often comes to me asking for advice, suggestions and ideas about things and I am happy to help her. We have a healthy and transparent relationship and I have no problems with that. I don’t mind she got that position as she has been working for the company for longer than me and therefore she was naturally the one to replace the former manager.
I am currently looking for another job in both inside and outside of the company due to some personal reasons. My ideal job would be as a team leader, supervisor or even a manager, but during job interviews I have been told that even though I have the experience required for the position I can’t be hired as I don’t have leadership experience.
The question is, how can I explain on my resume and on job interviews that I have been helping my manager in running the department but I can’t prove this aspect of my role since this is “unofficial”?
Well, I'm not sure that you can. Although your manager asks your advice and bounces things off you, that doesn't really translate to helping to run the department. After all, many good managers will ask their staff for advice and ideas; I'd actually argue that it might speak to her maturity rather than a lack thereof.
Which leads me to: There are some good 30-year-old managers out there. Now, it's entirely possible that this particular manager is immature and hindered by inexperience, and that she genuinely is looking to you to help her shoulder the burden, so I readily admit that I may be reading this incorrectly, but the way you explained it here came across to me as a chip on the shoulder about working for a younger manager.
Even if I'm misinterpreting, be aware that it may come across that way to future employers unless you pick your words very carefully. Otherwise, if the position you're interviewing for needs to work with 30somethings in positions of authority (which it very well might), you might torpedo your chances.
(Wow, I'm all about the tough love these days. I'm going to scare people off soon.)