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Sometimes it can be really challenging to turn down a role, trust me however when I say that being miserable in your job just isn’t worth it – your remuneration does not compensate you for hating going to work each and every day. The saying employees join organisations and leave managers is so true in my experience. Hence the key to finding a great job is to find one that technically you enjoy (be it Employment Relations focused, HR Generalist focused, etc) and couple that with a great manager.

A key part of finding a great manager is meeting them, not just at the interview stage although this can give you a great lead-in as to if you want to work with them or not, but also after the offer stage. Particularly if they’re in the same city, see if you can stop by and meet the team before you accept the offer (don’t drag it out for weeks, but the same week that you get the offer, try and arrange to stop by and meet the team). Meeting the team is good, but the real reason is to see how the team interacts with the manager and how the manager comes across to you.

I’ve found that qualifications can also support your initial impression of the person. Because of the industries I’ve worked in, most of my managers and executives have been very well educated, and by well-educated most have had one if not two masters degrees, with a couple of the CEOs I’ve worked under having PhDs (to be clear I didn’t report to the CEOs, however, because occasionally the people I’ve reported to have either reported to the CEO directly or one of their executives, the CEO’s qualifications sets the tone). I’ve also worked with managers that only have Bachelor's degrees, however, the vast majority have also had thirty years of experience and have a vast pool of real-world knowledge to draw from (and from which I can learn and gain further knowledge). Much of this information is publically available via LinkedIn, the question you have to answer here is simply this, can I learn something from the manager. If on paper you have better qualifications and experience, then this might be a sign that maybe this manager isn’t for you.

Now that’s a pretty bold statement to make, I’ve worked in a number of industries and indeed now two countries, but you always need to find that something you can learn from your new manager. Perhaps my best manager thus far was formerly a teacher and had worked around education her whole life. What I wanted to learn about in that role, was applying my knowledge in an educational setting and working with a wide range of diverse stakeholders. My manager had a great deal to teach me in these areas, and she impressed me well and truly during the interview. Another great manager knew a tremendous amount about the remuneration and data side of HR, aside from a good all-round knowledge of HR, so she helped me a great deal with learning about that side of HR and was a joy to work for. In retrospect the very few poor managers I’ve had weren’t really interested in the role they were advertising for, they just wanted someone to do it. This is very different from my great managers who personally invested in the role I was offered, and as such took an interest in making sure I was learning and had the opportunity to gain exposure to information that would help me be better at the role.

So my take-home message, if the manager isn’t interested in the role they’re advertising for, they’ve not gone to be interested in you. Find a manager who knows the importance of the role, rather than simply being a cog in the machine of HR, and chances are good that you’ve found a great manager.

Best of luck to you in finding a great manager, they really do make a world of difference to your day to day enjoyment of the role, and indeed to your career overall.

By Brendan Lys

Operating at the intersection of Human Resources and Data Science, I leverage extensive specialist experience within Human Resources, with the methodologies and approaches of Data Science. This focus on the discovery of actionable insights from data, has been applied to areas such as: remuneration & benefits, workforce planning, recruitment, health & safety, diversity, and training. But what does the application of data science to HR challenges and opportunities actually look like. Within an HR framework the data we work with typically comes directly from our HRMIS, an advantage of using data science methodologies is that we can bring in additional data either held within the organization or from external sources - data which is out of reach from a pure HR analytics approach. Consider for example position descriptions, these contain a wealth of data that we typically ignore as its not in a analysis ready format. A side project I'm working on currently (April 2019) is using text mining on job descriptions to provide insights into which job family the position may fit into. The insights of my work have been enjoyed by organizations across a diversity of sectors including: Government (Australia and New Zealand), ASX and NZX listed companies, utilities, not for profit and higher education.