How to make the most of your ‘acting’ arrangements

Just because you have spent time acting in a higher level job it does not mean that this automatically means you should be promoted to this level.

One of the ways public servants reduce their chances for a promotion is by not managing their acting arrangements strategically. Warming a seat for a couple of weeks while the boss takes a holiday doesn’t necessarily mean you know what working at this higher level means nor that you gained much in the process.

To gain the maximum value from your acting arrangements take a strategic approach.

Firstly, understand what the expectations are for working at the higher level. Agencies often have their own work level standards which set out the level of responsibility and level of complexity expected at each level. Make sure that your goals and work experience reflect the work level standards. There is little value in holding the title and receiving a few more dollars for a few weeks if what you did during that time was much the same as what you would be doing anyway. When you come to apply for promotion you want to be able to talk about acting experience that reflects the level of the promotion.

Secondly, give some thought to what the job or role is that you are moving into, how long you will spend in that job, and what realistically you can gain from that experience. Then set some goals identifying what you will gain. These can be about:

  • Gaining new skills
  • Using existing skills at a more demanding level
  • Gaining access to new networks or meetings
  • Taking on new roles such as chairing a team meeting
  • Acquiring new knowledge
  • Working with new people within or outside your agency.

Thirdly, discuss your goals with your supervisor/manager to make sure they understand work level standards and how they apply to your acting experience. Reach agreement on your goals and what support you will be given to tackle the demands of the new job.

Fourthly, make sure you keep a record of your experience, what you did, how you did it, what you learned. Also make sure that your performance appraisal makes reference to your acting experience.

Fifthly, when it comes to applying for a promotion remind your manager/referee of the acting experience so this evidence can be included in your referee report.

Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.