The role of Account Manager is common in many agencies over a certain size. Some Account Managers are pure salespeople, while others get involved in project delivery and most blend an element of the two. Note that the precise expectations of the role will vary from agency to agency, sometimes quite widely, so always check the job description particularly carefully and make sure it matches your skillset and ambitions.
To find out more about the role of an Account Manager, and the key skills required - check out our companion blog What is an Account Manager.
Boosting your chances of landing an account management role
Once you’ve decided you’re interested in a career as an account manager, consider the following to give yourself the best possible chance.
Determine why you’re interested
If you can articulate to yourself precisely why you find this role so appealing, it will become easier to do so with a potential employer. You can also check whether your expectations of the role are realistic.
Talk with someone who has done it
Find someone who is willing to talk about his or her experience as an account manager, you’ll be able to get a clear idea of the pros and the cons of the role. They may even be able to act as a mentor to develop your skills and direction, or to introduce you to others who can help.
Look at the different approaches adopted by account managers in your own company. What seems to work well and what rubs people up the wrong way? Which style best fits your personality?
Check for skills gaps
Check out the list of skills in our blog What is an Account Manager and if possible get hold of some real job descriptions. Take a look at the skills required and consider where you have strengths and where you need more experience or examples. Then put together a personal development plan to close any gaps.
The most crucial skills you need are likely to be communication skills: the ability to build a rapport with clients in person and in writing, and the skill to translate a conversation about a project into a clear brief for the creative team.
Look for opportunities to develop these skills in your current role. If that’s not possible consider asking for a secondment or think about ways you could get relevant experience in a voluntary role.
Read our article: How voluntary work can help you break into your dream career in events.
Presentation skills are particularly important as you are likely to get involved in pitching and presenting. There are many good training courses for aspiring presenters but nothing beats getting out there and doing presentations yourself. Many business people hone their presentation skills in the supportive atmosphere of a Toastmasters Club or you may find your own company will have a specific training course to support your development in this area.
Develop your client management skills
Seek out opportunities to increase the amount of client contact experience you can get under your belt in your current role. This will inevitably increase your skills in this area, give you some examples to talk about in an interview, and could demonstrate to your current employer your suitability for a move into account management.
Let people know
Unless your contacts know the kind of role you’re looking for they won’t be able to help. If you’re looking to move to an account management role within your current employer talk to your manager or the manager of the relevant department to see what’s possible. The chances are they’d rather keep you in the organisation in a job you enjoy than see you leave to perform it elsewhere.
But that’s not always possible. So, if you do need to look further afield make sure you let your preferred marketing recruitment consultant know so we can keep you in mind for future roles. Keep your personal network up-to-date too, as long as you can do so without causing problems with your current employer.
Craft a specific CV for the role
Make a copy of your CV and adapt it to highlight your skills and experience that are of most relevance to the role. Consider structuring your current role description with sub-headings to clearly show your ‘client/stakeholder’ management skills, as well as your organisational/project delivery skills as separate strings to your bow.
Don’t be tempted to overegg it, as any CV ‘embellishments’ are easy to uncover in an interview. Just provide real examples of relevant and transferrable skills and experience.
Prepare for the interview
If you secure an interview for an Account Manager role it’s likely you’ve already convinced the interviewer on paper that you can do the job. So the aim of the interview is to demonstrate you are the best of the candidates to perform it.
This means being the best prepared of all the interviewees. Research the company, its sector and the opportunity in detail. Prepare great examples of times you’ve used skills relevant to the role. And think of questions that will not only get you good information but will also make you memorable as a well-informed candidate.
Find out if the specific Account Management role has a broad remit - managing lots of different clients - or a deep one - developing lots of relationships within far fewer clients, or maybe with just one. The former requires formidable organisation skills while the latter will place a greater emphasis on your networking ability, and your interest in getting really under the skin of your client’s business. Knowing which side of your skillset to emphasise in the interview will give you a great advantage.
A good recruitment consultancy will help you prepare well for interview so you perform to your best. If you have the skills to be a top account manager we’d be interested to hear from you and to help you make that next step in your career.
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