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I have the education, the demeanor, the professional look, and some good work experiences...why am I not advancing? Is it the resume, interview skills??


Richard M Walker League City, TX

Would love to enter the ranks of Management/Executive Management. I have a masters degree and am working as a front desk clerk at a hospital. I want to leverage my previous experiences (logistics, IT, Healthcare) which is what made Project Management attractive to me. How do I show my experience so they are impressive to hiring managers/HR?
I present myself as very professional and am often mistaken for the office manager, supervisor, or boss...solely based on my professional appearance. I’m articulate and educated. I would like to learn how to move past this stage of LOOKING like the manager, and BECOME the manager.

I’m starting in project management and feel I may need to re-establish myself (again) from the bottom. Aside from the obvious of being knowledgeable about ones craft, I need to understand what I have NOT demonstrated to others which has kept me stuck in unfulfilling and under-paid positions.

22 April 2019 24 replies Leadership & Management



Paul Trejo Austin, TX

Hi Richard,

Thank you for your years of service. Here are some rules of thumb I found out about the struggle to break into management.

1. Management is not a step on a ladder open to everybody. Being admitted to Management is on an INVITATION basis only.

2. Thus, personal relationships with Managers is the only viable method to get admitted.

3. Once one turns 40, it is unrealistic to expect promotion into Management. If we don't make it by 40, then our chances are slim to none, because if we had the right stuff, other managers would have seen it by now.

4. In today's world, when college degrees are considered -- only an MBA is wanted. If your Masters degree is in anything else but business, it hardly matters.

5. Experience is more important, anyway. Have you ever managed a small grocery store, say, for your father or uncle? How many years do you have supervising workers in any capacity?

6. Project management is not considered "management" by Executives. Only "people" management is considered "management." Project management is like bird-dogging, but not like people management.

7. Today's Executive Manager must have some experience in the seven basic departments of any company: (i) stockholding; (ii) HR; (iii) sales; (iv) accounting; (v) production; (vi) marketing; and (vii) advertising. That's a lot of diverse previous experience.

8. If a person is young, then an MBA will substitute for management EXPERIENCE.

Think about it -- would you trust your company to somebody without experience? Would you trust your company to somebody you knew only by their resume?

For those who are still young enough, the road to Management entails three main criteria; (1) Experience in Supervision; (2) Experience in all seven of the major departments of any company; and (3) Close personal relationships with Managers.

Best wishes,

2 May 2019 Helpful answer


nancy ouellette Cary, NC

Hi Richard! First of all, thanks for your amazing dedication and service to our country! I am both honored and humbled to have a platform to support folks like yourself who are looking for a boost to maneuver your way back in and around the corporate setting.

I spent nearly 20 years in corporate finance and pivot my career fully to people development and relationship management. Most people thought I was crazy, and told me I'd have to "start over" however, I can guarantee there is a secret sauce to this madness called corporate and If I can step from an executive-level role into a brand new career without skipping a beat, I know that you'll be able to overcome this as well.

With that said... I always like to ask people, what appeals to them about being a manager? It is very important to not get hung up on terminology as managers real naturally speaking are often confused with strategists in leadership roles. Not to say managers can't be leaders, so don't get me wrong, but when you peel back the layers, you really need to ask yourself what it is you actually want to do... Do you want to truly manage people (oversee their performance, HR admin, day to day operational support, etc.), are you looking to be an influence and "lead" an organization, OR some combo of both? Being able to answer this fully is the first key to representing yourself properly on paper and to prospective employers/hiring management. Are you wanting to progress where you are or find a different company altogether? Advice, although similiar will be slightly different depending on the response.

From here, you must next understand and be able to clearly articulate your strengths. Do you have target employers? If not, identify them. Once you have identified them, research them, and determine if you can identify a problem that you could possibly look to solve for them. OR In an interview setting, ask that question, "What's the largest challenge your org needs to overcome" and then articulate how your strengths can help deliver a solution. Remember you have to have something they want, doesn't matter if you are the smartest and most well-dressed candidate interviewing if they want someone who can demonstrate influence and decisiveness, you'll lose out more than you'll win. It is for this reason researching the company you want to go after is still highly relevant. Find other people that are there, look at their Linkedin profiles, and see what you can glean about the company and adapt.

Confidence is highly important as well, from the handshake to the way you carry yourself upon entering their building, or speaking on the phone - not to be confused with cockiness. They need you more than you need them should be your mindset, but it is your job to sell them on that point if you believe its the right fit by again demonstrating your strengths. i.e. If you're a fun-loving guy who likes to cut up and have fun, don't pretend to be something you're not by buttoning up so tight you can't breathe - be sure to smile and even laugh a little. The last piece on confidence is "know your value". You mention it in your question when you refer to "unfulfilling and under-paid positions", so if you want more, be able to articulate to yourself and others what that "more" means to you and "why" you feel you deserve it.

I could drudge on as this is my passion, but he last key point for you is, you have got to get LinkedIn cleaned up. There are grammatical errors and lack of consistency throughout the way you represent job to job. i.e. some are in bullets, and some are in paragraph style. LinkedIn is the most highly used platform for employers today and should be treated as a miniature resume for you. You have an amazing profile picture, however, the background image on your page is quite distracting and if being completely fair don't find it nearly as professional as your profile pic, and see it as distracting. I'd recommend you adjust the picture here to reflect something that is more fitting to your personality and experience. Other side items of note: Move your memberships down to the bottom - there is specifically a section for you to add these. Your strengths are not really "strengths". Tell the hiring manager what you've done in those areas to demonstrate a strength. e.g. Rather than "leadership perhaps something like "developed team of XX", deliver strategic initiatives, etc. Most people don't know this but there is a setting you can change in LinkedIn where it will not notify your contacts that you've changed anything on your profile - just mentioning this in the event you don't want people you currently work with to know you are "dressing up" your profile which could send some unwanted flares into the air.

Further, the company that I am presently supporting has a rather large presence in TX, and is always looking for good PM's :) I'd encourage you if interested to take a look at their offerings at

Hope some of this helps...

23 October 2019 Helpful answer


Robert Levin


I would echo what Kim, Louis and Rex have said above. It sounds like you have the education, not sure getting more certificates is the best path. But behaving as if it was your own business, in terms of owning problems, thinking about solutions, goes a long way to having people trust you with bigger decisions. I recall an article that talked about paying attention to the CEO (customers, employees and owners/shareholders) is critical to being successful. Beyond making sure your attitude and behavior reflect this, I would echo Kim's thoughts about asking for a mentor or multiple. Ask to be put on special projects where you can add value and show ownership and commitment. If it's tough to find opportunities for core work projects, as Louis mentioned taking part or taking the lead on things like employee welfare, community volunteering project scan be an opportunity to show your skills and leadership. Best of luck!


7 May 2019 Helpful answer




I faced the same problem for years in corporations with my degree in Engineering; my degree in Industrial Management and working on post graduate studies in Finance.

I decided the Heck with that!!!

I went to Law School and busted right through the bureaucratic malaise; the obstructionists; the usual "Blah, blah, blah", and the normal resistance of the competing "herd".

Think about Law School.

A Juris Doctor, plus your other degrees and experience, will do the same for you as it did for me.

Law School is not for everyone and it "aint easy" or cheap.

How badly do you want success????

Note: The CEO of major, nation-wide Health Corporation in San Diego has a J.D. Yes, things are so heavily regulated in the Health Care industry that corporate boards recognize that what is needed at the Helm is someone who understands the law, the rules and regulations.

I am on the Board of my Alma Mater: The University of San Diego School of Law. Let me know if I can provide additional information.

Reach for the "gold" if you dare.

1 May 2019 Helpful answer


Kimberly Smith Chicago, IL

Thank you for your service! A few things that helped me move up in my career and also a few things that I would suggest as a long time hiring manager.

* Make sure your boss and your bosses boss (skip level) know what job you want or where you want to go with your career. Actually ask for the help and advice to get there.
* Ask for a mentor to grow your experience and knowledge. Both mentors and mentees get alot of our these relationships. You should be meeting for a minimum of 1 hour a month with a mentor and more if possible. Your mentor is usually an executive or officer. Talk about how they moved up, what lessons they learned, ask for hard feedback on how you present yourself and how you work within the politics of your given organization.
* As for projects that demonstrate and highlight your talents outside of your current role. That will build your resume without actually having that job so you can get that job.
* Talk to people who are in roles you would like to do. Buy them lunch and pick their brains. Make sure as many people as possible know what you want. Often organizations are about who you know so know many people. You never know when someone says Hey how about Richard for that role?
* Come up with suggestions on improving the business based on your own experience and observation and ask if you can be part of the team to fix things or make those improvements. Shows innovation and leadership as well as passion for your company.
* Make sure you know the company. Read the latest news, google it, know the officers. And know the industry. If you can quote certain things it will show you are paying attention and care more about coming in and doing your job more than at a robot level.
* Never burn bridges with anyone. You dont know who knows who and where loyalties lie. And always make friends with the administrative staff for the leadership team. They know what is going on better than most and their bosses often trust them immensely. Sometimes that a good person to toss your name out for opportunities without having to get to the executives themselves if that is difficult. Plus they are usually knowledgeable and fun people with a level of insight others dont have.
* Make sure your resume is interesting and easy to read. 1-3 sentences at the top that explains who you are and what you want. Followed by a block of bullets, 3 across and 3 down so 9 total, with a couple word things that describe you. Someone can then at a glance get to know you before even getting into your work experience. Dont be generic with these words, be specific and dont be too humble without being arrogant. Things like "experienced project manager", "creative problem solver", "Passionate about customer experience", "leadership with the right attitude" etc -- then list a quick quip about each of your work experience roles that lays out what you did and add some bullets under that with your top accomplishments. Be specific and quantitative in your accomplishments showing revenue generation, increase in customer satisfaction scores, reduced cycle time by X% - whatever applies. Not just "I did this" but I did X and it resulted in Y" which moves the business forward. Show both team work and leadership. You will always have opportunities for both so never underestimate the need for good teaming!

Hope that helps. Squeaky wheel gets the grease.

1 May 2019 Helpful answer


Jo Prabhu San Rafael, CA

New employers rarely fill Management positions with those who have never been Managers before. If you aspire to Management, Its always easier to first try moving up into it with your current employer by asking for more responsibility or requesting projects to work on which will allow you to work with or form your own team. Inviting both the team and upper Management to openly provide written critique regarding your performance will allow you to improve and hone your capabilities and polish your skills as you advance higher up with the company. It may take 2-3 years but once you have proven Management skills, compile a list of all the positive things your team writes about you and include it in the Cover Letter of your CV. This will certainly help to enhance your image with a prospective employer.

1 May 2019 Helpful answer


Louis Schwarz Somerville, NJ

Hi Richard. A manager must own the issues, start to finish. Do not make excuses or not my job or responsibility attitude. Do you want to hire someone with that attitude? If you did, you would have to address all issues to get the job done, because your manager would not, since it was not his job. Sorry for being so blunt. An individual who can overcome and get the job/project done is the one everyone wants. It is not about you, it is about your performance and creativity and the ability to implement and complete the tasks, independent of all issues.
Good luck.

29 April 2019 Helpful answer


David Daugerdas Palatine, IL

Richard, thank you for your service. In addition to the previous answers, if you don't already have a professional project management certification (CAPM, PMP, PRINCE2, etc.) you may want to consider obtaining one. This will further add to your credibility and commitment to the profession, and demonstrate you're serious about this career path.

29 April 2019 Helpful answer


Bob Molluro Wilmington, DE

I am guessing that you are not as good in interviews as you need to be. I would be happy to share a one hour Coaching experience for free. Just send me an email to
Warmly, Bob Molluro

29 April 2019 Helpful answer


Sharon Parker Roanoke, TX

Richard, thank you so much for your service to our country!

My answer is a bit different than your previous replies - I have found sometimes people within an organization find it difficult to advance because they have been perceived as being at their level of competence in the current role. Often it is easier to transition to a higher level role at a different organization if you have the correct level of experience, skills, and education.

Do you have a career coach? I provide career / executive / leadership coaching services free of charge to our Veterans. Please let me know if you might be interested. Best of luck!

28 April 2019 Helpful answer


Rex Conger Gilbert, SC

In addition to the suggestions you have already received - I would suggest that you get as involved as you possibly can in activities that the hospital is offering for the staff and the public. Seeing you in these type of settings on a consistent basis will help you get noticed and will create opportunities.

Never miss a opportunity to be noticed - participating in community activities that the CEO/VPs are involved in such as the Chamber of Commerce would be examples.

Best wishes!

24 April 2019 Helpful answer


Nancy Quartey Palo Alto, CA

Hi Richard,
Have you considered taking control of your career and starting your own business? It sounds like you have the experience, skills, and desire to be in a leadership role. Why not lead your own business? With franchising, it's easier than it may seem. You're not starting from scratch. You have the experience and support of a proven, successful business model. Many people think franchising is too expensive or limited to fast-food, which simply isn't true. If you'd like to learn more, please feel free to contact me to discuss.

23 April 2019 Helpful answer


Michael Smith Wake Forest, NC

Hi Richard,

As Cliff mentioned, you need to be pro-active in communicating your goals to your supervisor. Also, find mentors within your organization, who is in management or executive management to get advise on their career experience and how they got to where they are currently. Also, act as a leader in your current role by offering assistance to others to help the entire team/organization succeed. Take time to thank others and praise them for their good work, when ever possible.

Take care.

23 April 2019 Helpful answer


Cliff Locks Saint James, NY

Hi Richard,

Thank you for serving!

Have you asked your supervisor for additional responsibility, be direct and friendly asking what do I need to do to help the team meets goals and at the same time move to the next pay grade.

Are you goals written down on paper? Watch a few of these Brian Tracy videos on goal setting.

Let me know how you make out.

Best regards,

Cliff Locks

22 April 2019 Helpful answer


Victoria Heck Ashburn, VA

Hi Richard, I just sent you a request to connect on LinkedIn. I'd be happy to assist in your job search. Let's connect. Thanks, Victoria


Ethan Margalith Los Angeles, CA

Thank you for serving our nation Richard !

Don’t let the rejections influence your self-esteem. Much of it has nothing to do with you but the way decisions are made at the organizations you apply to. They often look to hire someone already doing the job they are filling so if something goes wrong they don't look badly. Unemployment is very low, but find a haystack, there’s plenty of needles!

Obviously the problem is perception not skill-
1) Age
3)Pigeon-hole (the assumption that what you currently do is what you are qualified to do)

The solution is “luck”. So you need to make your own luck.
The opportunity you want exists, you need to find it. Whatever it takes!
Best wishes,



Emanuel Carpenter Alpharetta, GA

Richard - To get a leadership position, you must have already led people. If you have led in any roles in your career, including the Air Force, you must show that leadership on your resume. The degree helps but the doing helps more.

Display how you've led by using a skills-based resume as opposed to a chronological resume. Highlight what you have done as a leader. Look at the job descriptions of the positions you want. Do you see required skills on those postings that you possess? Add them to your resume.

Go to LinkedIn and ask to connect with the leaders you want to work for. Ask them what they look for in a leader.

No leadership skills? How can you obtain them now? Ask for more duties at work. Volunteer in a leadership capacity. Lead at church. Start a small business that forces you to hire some people as opposed to starting a one-man shop.

On the flip side, I say be careful what you wish for. Management is not the end all be all. Sometimes it is like babysitting. If the people you supervise do something wrong, your boss will be coming to you to fix the behavior. And just because you are a manager, doesn't mean you won't still get managed.

In my current role as a sales leader at a software company, I had to share all my lifetime of leadership to get the job. That includes being a squad leader in basic training, converting 10 customer service reps to sales reps at a logistics firm, working as a player/coach at a different software company, and more. I went from managing 3 at one company to 13 at another. It's rewarding but it comes with headaches. I'm still managing, and I'm still getting managed.

Hope this helps.


Patricia Sanderlin Hempstead, TX

Hi Richard, thank you for your service!

In addition to what everyone else stated, i.e. getting a mentor, not only looking like a manager but acting like one (volunteering to take on projects, owning a shift or solving issues and finishing strong, networking with other managers), make sure you interview well!

I highly recommend the book "60 Seconds and You're Hired!".

Good luck!



martin kelly Wilmington, DE

Richard, thank you for you sacrifice!

Lots of good stuff already provided. So.....

My quick answer..........ask.................... ask yourself (why do you think you'v been overlooked) and ask a manger/mentor you trust (do you think I'm cut out to manage? If yes, how do I -can you help me - advance? If not, why not; is it anything I can "fix"?)

One aspect of being a good "leader" is to know yourself, know where you want to go; be able to articulate that; know how you're gonna get here and know how you'll measure success - or need for course change - along the way.

I wish you the very best,



Jim Schreier Milwaukee, WI

You're getting a lot of advice so I don't want to pile on. But, always willing to review and help revise resumes -- often with a little bit of a sharper twist that forms the basis for my site, Also perhaps a different take on how to prepare better for interviews.


Bob Molluro Wilmington, DE

Richard I saw your request that was posted some time ago. My gut reaction is that you need a sponsor. Someone who knows what you want and has spent enough time with you to appreciate what you bring to the party. Speak to anyone who will listen about your aspirations. Don't be discouraged. A quick story to make my point. my son in law was the top sales producer in the US for a company that is headquartered in France. They decided to close US operations and my son in law was let go. He was trying to find a position that would pay in the $200K to $300K range . He took lots of interviews but was still unemployed six months later. One day in a coffee shop he was having lunch and discussing his situation with a person he just met. The guy said "I know a Billionaire who could use a guy with your skills." Mike was hired and five years later is a $500K earner and a partner.

Keep the faith and good things will happen. You need to be Networking if you are not. I belong to an organization called Network After Work. They are probably active in your area. It is very inexpensive to join and attend the Networking functions. You will eventually find the right person who can connect you with the right person.
I gave this same advice to a vet I was mentoring. He was on vacation in Mexico and bumped into a guy who was a partner in one of the Big Four Accounting Firms. Two weeks later he was offered a job as a consultant at $130K plus a $10K signing bonus> he is 27. You never know who God is going to send you as your intermediary. Good luck.


Bob McRae Hinckley, OH

Why have you targeted project management? Like several others who have responded, age is against you: younger, aggressive PMs compete for management attention, and I think your age will work against you even if you succeed. I speak from experience working at Progressive Insurance Company managing projects.

You have real credentials that you can be proud of:
1. masters degree
2. front desk clerk, implying you work hard, get along with colleagues, customers, and superiors
3. previous experiences logistics, IT, Healthcare
4. present myself as very professional
5. articulate and educated

These gifts can be leveraged better in so many other careers. Think about your choice, and think of things you enjoy doing the most, and how you could leverage your gifts doing one or more of those things.

If you want guidance, think about reading a copy of a book like "What is the Color of Your Parachute" by Richard Bolles, available for free here:, or get a copy at the library. Books like this can help inspire you and provide concrete steps to choosing what you like and can do for money AND fun.



Lex Levin Ellicott City, MD


I'm happy to review your resume and offer suggestions. I have 10 years of full-time experience writing resumes for transitioning Service Members and Veterans. You can send me your resume and answer a few questions via my website, here:

Best wishes,



Claudio A Norwalk, CT

Hi - On your new PM role, try to take on additional tasks/responsibilities so people notice you and you have solid references later for your next level role. I would also look around on LinkedIn for folks you think are accomplished and really take a look at their background and learn from them. Everyone has a path, and you need to take the first step. You can do it!


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