I've had the privilege of chatting with a lot of students and recent grads (young professionals) on my book tour, and one of the questions I often get asked is: "How can I make myself stand out when a lot of other applicants have more education and professional experience?"
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How do you get a promotion? It's a good time to start thinking about growing your career and positioning yourself for one.
1. Under Promise And Over Deliver<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0MDM3My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0ODAxOTk2Nn0.p2RLGflNfOqIm4wk6zfNT8dh5aKkqy44QACiYTm0vJQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="c9a2b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f5c1734036679acf0dc7188d922ddb8e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Man successfully presents data and works towards getting a promotion" data-width="900" data-height="600" /><p>With many companies leaner than they were several years ago, there are probably many internal voids. You want to identify and fill them. We recommend looking at how you can informally be of service.</p><p><strong>For example:</strong> ask your supervisor or <a href="https://www.workitdaily.com/performing-stage-of-team-development" target="_blank">team members</a> how you can step in and support them as well as identify where you see hiccups in efficiency. Approach the appropriate person with a case for how you can step in and help.</p><p>At the same time, make sure you do not commit to work you know you cannot complete efficiently and to the best of your abilities.</p>
2. Be An Intrapreneur<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0MDM1MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MTQwODU4MX0.D41u7fPF0j0Yr_TCJ9xPyH3wtftWYdtnFcTpefMsZGQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="c028b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a96b4a0175251fecc23aa9680aa93ee5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Man becomes an intrapreneur to get a promotion" data-width="900" data-height="600" /><p>An intrapreneur is someone who uses an entrepreneur's mindset, relationships, skills, and behaviors within an organization's four walls to develop new, innovative ways of working, new products, or new services.</p><p>Whether you are developing a new corporate social responsibility initiative or developing a new procedure for onboarding entry-level talent, elicit the support of all key stakeholders, do your homework to set yourself up to succeed, and set clear, mutually agreed-upon criteria for success.</p><p><strong>By launching a new venture within your company's four walls, you may just create your new position.</strong> And when you succeed, you will have evidence of your <a href="https://www.workitdaily.com/how-to-improve-leadership-skills" target="_blank">leadership experience</a>.</p>
3. Get Your Internal Networking On<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0MDMyNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2Mzk1NDMyMn0.j04d8epGSNaAqu7SdKIHnfTyDTY0_HfdDqIo-IL-qSU/img.jpg?width=980" id="024c6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7c8f48b1d26b505bedda33174d2b9e78" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Work colleagues network during a meeting" data-width="900" data-height="600" /><p>It's important to develop mutually beneficial relationships within your department and team as well as throughout your company. Don't forget to <a href="https://www.workitdaily.com/how-to-connect-with-coworkers" target="_blank">connect with your co-workers</a>, old and new, and continuously try to network with those outside of your immediate office or work environment. </p><p><strong>To put yourself in line for such an opportunity like a promotion, set the time to get to know all of your colleagues.</strong> Be curious about their work and opportunities they foresee on the horizon.</p>
4. Balance Short And Long-Term Thinking<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0MDMxOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3MDM0MzQ5MH0.3amIZpr-bfdQP_rtaI3JII9ycnij_EMoQ24CwFpwdBI/img.jpg?width=980" id="9c365" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f967789d600cb848112b1f3421ca3978" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Woman prepares to ask for a promotion" data-width="900" data-height="600" /><p>This is another important muscle to flex when positioning yourself for a promotion. <strong>While it's important to have an eye on your goals so that you stay on top of your chief responsibilities, you also want to pay attention to how your work plays into the bigger picture.</strong></p><p>Get clear on your department or organization's one, two, and even five-year goals and work with your supervisor to make sure that how you are spending your time and energy is moving you—and the company—in the right direction.</p>
5. Zap Negativity<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0MDMxOC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNjk1MDA2MX0.E8kor_aNea2cY3Dn5iGhTX7CTTsvfnhBI-0hhlUfB6k/img.jpg?width=980" id="f975f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7fee8ff47fa4ad59175272ec11045c3e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Happy woman at work" data-width="900" data-height="600" /><p>People want to work with happy people. And, let's face it: right now, too many workplaces are seas of persistent complaint.</p><p>Senior leaders also want emerging talent who see opportunities rather than obstacles. Not only does a Negative Nelly or Negative Ned kill moral, she or he also comes across as someone incapable of solving problems and inspiring others towards solutions, which are keys to positioning one's self as an effective leader.</p><p><strong>If you want to get that promotion, focus on being positive at work.</strong> Your encouraging nature will show your manager you have the right attitude for a <a href="https://www.workitdaily.com/resume-for-leadership-position" target="_blank">leadership position</a>, therefore making you that much closer to getting promoted.</p>
6. Ask<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0MDMxNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NTc4MjEwOH0.nPKIbz7SX2KqM-7olK59XCI9PnLMzsL_aHyoHfBBWb0/img.jpg?width=980" id="43e31" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="14a0695853ea97f4c4669228d49bf89d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Woman asks her boss for a promotion" data-width="900" data-height="600" /><p>This might sound obvious, but we can't tell you how many people know a position is open in their companies and fail to advocate for themselves or hope that a supervisor will read their minds and make them that offer they can't refuse.</p><p><strong>This is particularly important for women.</strong></p><p>Men initiate these kinds of conversations about four times as often as women! You don't want to under promise and over deliver forever. Once you know you have laid the foundation for your ask, set a specific day and time to talk to the appropriate person about your aspirations and make sure you facilitate the conversation in such a way you are creating a <a href="https://www.workitdaily.com/how-to-rewrite-career-story" target="_blank">compelling story</a> about what you have achieved in your previous position and what you believe you can achieve moving forward. </p><p>Most promotions won't fall into your lap. If you want it, sometimes you just have to ask for it. </p>
Even in these difficult economic times, a lot of professionals still would like to find a new job or strike out solo and put up their own shingle. I know. Like most entrepreneurs, prior to starting my own coaching and training company I had a 9-5 (or in my case, a 10-6). Fortunately, unlike a lot of employees who - out of economic need, fear, or a combo of the two - stay longer than they would like, I left my company prior to losing my ability to be a top performer. It's important to know when it's time to find a new job. For I firmly believe, whatever reasons for leaving a job you have, the way you walk away from your company is the way you will show up to a new one - especially if it’s your own, brand-spankin’ new business. To prevent yourself from staying too long at your current employer or leaving before you are truly prepared to go, I recommend considering these top two points. If you can confidently say “yes” to both of them, most likely you are ready to move on. Just as importantly, you will be able to do it with integrity - before the discomfort of staying outweighs the discomfort of leaving.
One of the greatest investments I made in myself in 2011 was throwing down the bucks to work with online marketing and women's lifestyle luminary Marie Forleo - first in her Rich, Happy & Hot B-School program and then in her Rich, Happy & Hot Live event. While Marie's genius is vast, I think my top tweet-sized takeaway from both of these experiences was: direct your focus towards the behaviors that are necessary to be successful. Now, Marie is a Coach U grad like me. And Coach U, and the coaching profession in general, is all about mindset first. If you think it, you actualize it. So, initially I was uncomfortable by the suggestion that I needed to redirect my energy away from my mantra of recycling obstacles into opportunities. But in truth, making opportunities out of obstacles is a behavior. The practice requires us to search within ourselves, recognize our inner knowing, seek out the support of others, forgive… It's a whole lot more than mere positive thinking. So in the year ahead, while creating and sustaining a possibility-centered mindset might be one of the behaviors you work on, I'm going to encourage you to make the other behaviors integral to your career success and life satisfaction your utmost priority. Here are my top five.
What skills do college grads need to be successful? I’ve had the privilege of doing a variety of different work around on-boarding recent college graduates into their first full-time, post-collegiate jobs. A lot of this work has been looking for mutually-beneficial solutions for meeting young professionals where they are to take them where employers need them to be. This has had me thinking... what are the specific gaps between what colleges provide students and what employers expect them to know? Certainly this differs across fields. But if we could come together and agree on some particular skills, we could save employers (and young professionals) a lot of time, energy, and heartache down the line.
A few weeks ago I attended a terrific ASTD-Las Vegas presentation led by San Diego based trainer Jeff Toister. Jeff facilitated an engaging conversation around how to get CEO’s and senior directors’ expectations met when going in to implement coaching and training solutions. He encouraged us to shift from thinking about our impact in terms of Return on Investment (ROI) to Return on Expectations (ROE). For while in these tough economic times leaders may profess to care about the financial bottom line, it’s erroneous to assume success (from a client’s standpoint as well as our own) can always be measured in terms of money saved and money earned. Jeff’s words sparked a nice aha for me. Many of my clients would not measure their success with me simply in terms of their financial investment and the financial payoff. And yet ROI is still bandied around in most corporate pitch sessions at the expense of discussing the client’s specific expectations (i.e. attracting and retaining higher caliber employees, national press coverage, sustaining a culture of corporate calm, etc.) This discussion really got me thinking about CAREERpreneurship and how, as CAREERpreneurs, we want to get really clear on our long and short-term expectations if we’re to make the best possible choices for our career trajectories. What are our expectations for what we will have achieved (and who we will have become) by the end of our careers? How do the present opportunities before us fit with where we’re trying to go? While no person–not even the savviest CAREERpreneur–can play God, we certainly can use our previous experiences and gut instincts to make an educated guess. When we are clear on our long-term expectations, we can then work backwards to see if the choices immediately in front of us are likely to produce the return to move us closer towards what we’re striving for in the long term.
One of the great things about my work is it positions me to contribute my two cents for books, articles, college courses, info products, etc. The bummer is when I dedicate the time to give what I believe are valuable nuggets for action or reflection and they never see the light of day…as recently happened when one of my media superheroines reached out for a story on young women in the workplace. Since the biggest bummer is having the content go underutilized, I’m piecing it together to share with you my thoughts on how the recession is impacting us Gen-Y and millennial women. In many ways it’s a companion piece to my June 17 Awaken Your CAREERpreneur vlog where I asked, "The Ladies Are Coming, or Are They?" The 2 Biggest Trends: Gen-Y Women And The Recession First, for well-educated young women who are still pursuing full-time employment upon graduation, I am noticing that those who are driven by a desire to succeed are more tentative about taking positions with start-ups, in publishing or on Wall Street. Instead, they are looking to align their expertise with corporations that are pegged for continual growth such as health care and renewable energy. Second, for young women driven by a desire to make positive social impact, I’m seeing a lot choose to move home so that they can work in a nonprofit and make a contribution through a company like Teach for America or YouthBuild. Gen-Y and millennial women inspired to drive change through entrepreneurial solutions are also looking for positions in social enterprise or in CSR. Knowing that work in most industries is unstable at best, many young women are saying, “I might as well do what I care about now. For the only thing worse than selling out is being sold out,” as so many of us have witnessed happen for Gen-X and Boomers. New Grads as Perpetual Grads I’m also seeing a lot of young women go directly from college to graduate school or from college to work (or job seeking) for a year or two and then to graduate school…rather than waiting 3-5 years to launch their careers, gain real-world experience and choose a degree program that aligns with their professional goals. As a former women’s studies professor, trust me I’m not knocking higher education. And the influx of women into MBA and PhD programs is exciting to be sure. However, when young women accrue massive educational debt, haven’t necessarily chosen degrees that will make them more competitive job candidates or graduate over educated and under experienced, I worry. It’s important for any woman choosing graduate school to be VERY clear about how much the degree will increase her earning potential and whether it’s enough to cover and warrant what she will be shelling out in monthly payments upon graduation. The Gen-Y / Millennial Woman’s Mindset While we know we have lower rates of unemployment than our male counterparts, there is still a sense that we are not moving up the ranks as quickly as we did in a robust economy. The fear, the source of most self-sabotage, manifests in a lot of concerns over integrating the personal with the professional: How do I put equal attention into job hunting/career reinvention and dating? How do I feel about the fact that I may be supporting or at least picking up the tab for a significant other who is unemployed? Will I have achieved the success I seek prior to wanting to start a family? For many Gen-Y and millennial women, unfortunately, the greatest barrier to workplace equity is ourselves. We trail miserably behind young men in negotiating our first salaries. We trail miserably behind young men in asking for performance reviews and promotions. And we trail miserably behind young men in our assessment of our workplace performance and preparedness for leadership. Therefore, while we might get ourselves in the door before young men do, we are much more likely not to move as quickly up or be paid as well the longer we are in the workplace. It’s important to step into our moxie and ask for what we’re worth—in money, position and opportunity—once we’ve gotten in and have measurable results to back-up our case. All of this undoubtedly plays into our thoughts on entrepreneurship. It’s commonly reported that Gen-Y believes entrepreneurship to be safer than full-time employment. A recent survey by the Young Entrepreneurs Council reported 35% of Gen-Y who are currently employed have started a side business, 21% have started a business because they are unemployed and 79% are interested in one day becoming entrepreneurs. As I know firsthand, young women are more likely to start home based businesses than tech start-ups. More and more are taking to the internet to blog, create info products and sell services through our online brands. This is the space where I think women will most be stepping up and leading in the next 2-5 years. The next wave of young female small business success is leveraging one’s products and service to make more sizable and replicable social impact. Alexia Vernon is a career and workplace author, speaker, coach, trainer and media personality who empowers people to build careers and companies that are successful, sustainable and full of soul. To receive Alexia’s "7 Biggest Obstacles to Success and the Sinfully Simple Formula to Shift Them into Opportunities," visit www.AlexiaVernon.com. Read more » articles by this approved career expert | Click here » if you’re a career expert Image from Yuri Arcurs/Shutterstock