The Path to Becoming a General Manager – What Steps You Can Take


Nov 30, 2020

Setting a career goal is not always simple. It often takes a lot of soul searching, being honest with yourself about your skills and where your passions lie, and then taking a close look at the market and whether or not your goals match up with the demand out there today. If you’ve taken all these steps and you’ve come to the conclusion that a general manager position is the job for you, and the one you would feel most fulfilled in, then it’s time to lay down the framework of how you plan on landing that job.

The path to becoming a general manager can take different turns and twists, but in general, there are some tips and advice worth considering.

Your Education Will Play a Huge Role

Before you even start to think of the work experience you need and the steps you’ll need to conquer on the job, your education should be a top priority. Having an MBA education not only prepares you for the challenges of a general manager position, but it also makes you much more attractive in the eyes of a potential employer.

Having that MBA shows you’re serious about building that foundation, that you’re well-informed and prepared, and that you plan on making this your future and have career goals.

As a general manager, it will be up to you to create strategic plans, motivate and lead your employees, create effective business plans, tackle budgeting, set goals for the department, manage the HR department, and so much more. These are the exact kind of skills and knowledge that an MBA program can provide.

It can even address soft skills, which can sometimes be overlooked when you think of your priority list. Soft skills can make you a much more effective general manager all-around, so are well worth learning.

You can click here to learn more about how an MBA can help you reach the position of a general manager, and some of the specific things you’ll learn through the program including the skills it will teach you.

Industry Experience Is Typically a Must

The next tip is that you’ll most likely need experience, and not just any experience but on-the-job experience in the industry you wish to work in. While there is no set amount of time that employers look for in terms of experience, most tend to require around five years’ worth of time in the specified industry. This provides you with enough time to really get to know the products/services, the customers, how the industry works, current market trends, and so forth.

Experience is all about making you a better-rounded employee that can actually bring knowledge and input to the job. It shows you’re ready to hit the ground running rather than feel lost.

It’s also important to point out that experience can give you a leg up on the competition. If you’re applying for a general manager job with plenty of competition, your experience is something that can help you rise to the top of the list of candidates.

Master the Necessary Skills to Manage Effectively

Besides just the foundations and knowledge that an education can provide you, you can also be working to master the skills that general managers need. These include such skills as customer service, communication, organizational, analytical, leadership, perhaps technical, financial, and learn to multi-task, and not get flustered in a busy high-stress situation.

All of this can be done before you even land your dream job. While most of these will happen naturally as you get work experience, some of these skills you can work on in your own time. For example, perfecting your communication skills is something you can do with friends and family as practice – not just in the office. And remember, communication skills include listening, speaking, and writing.

The fact is that building on your management skills is a never-ending task. Even when you land the job as general manager that doesn’t mean it’s the end of your learning – you can always better your skills, improve your knowledge, and become that much more successful in your role.

Get Out There and Network

Here’s a tip that is important no matter what your career goals are. Networking should never be underestimated, as you don’t know when those contacts may possibly come in handy. There are also different ways that you can network, so there’s really no excuse not to get out there.

Some of the best ways to network include attending industry events and conferences, joining a small business leader/owner group in your town or city, being active on LinkedIn, keeping in contact with people you graduated with, and just generally getting out there.

You may also want to create a professional portfolio on social media (outside of LinkedIn), which you can use to connect with contacts.

Ensure Your Resume is Always Ready to Go

Because you never know when that perfect job may pop up, you also want to be sure you always have an updated resume ready to go. It should be short, concise, direct, and professional. You can also have a standard cover letter ready that can be customized and tweaked to fit each job opening.

If you’re having a hard time creating an effective resume, and you just don’t think it properly showcases your skills and experience, it may be worth it to contact a resume writing service. They can take all the information and turn it into something that captures the eyes of potential employers since they know what works, and what doesn’t work.

Expect to Put in Effort to Get Results

Once you have the goal of becoming a general manager, it can be hard to show patience until the day comes that you land your dream job, but the fact is that it will likely take plenty of effort and time on your part. Just keep your eye on the prize and remind yourself what you are working towards.