On July 4th America celebrates Independence Day, so why not plan to better your life and career this week without causing a massive fireworks display that can blow up in your face.
If you work hard and do everything asked of you – and more, and your work has a proven value and worth to your current employer, this does not guarantee you the promotion or raise you feel you deserve. Why is this?
There are many reasons, the most common being that most companies are structured to act at their own pace and not yours, preferring to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to these types of business decisions. Another is the internal politics in play in advancing your career or in getting recognized and fairly compensated where you currently work.
A final reason and one I find becoming alarmingly common of late are the unwritten mantras “Feel grateful you have a job” and “Everyone, especially you, can be replaced.” In talking to people, particularly those age 33 and above, it is scary to see how many men and women let this reason control their destiny. Some even accept or are afraid to report incidents of discrimination or sexual or other harassment believing if they talk up they’ll lose their job. This is frightening, but is a topic for another time.
On another note, many people find over time their lifestyle and priorities change and the career path they are on, or were on before they lost their job, is no longer personally fulfilling or accommodating to these changes.
If you feel a change in pay, position or career path is warranted this Independence Day here are a few things I propose you seriously consider. But I caution you not to act hastily, since they require thoughtful analysis and a well-defined game plan before initiating irreversible action.
A: Ask for a promotion, a transfer or a raise so you can continue to enjoy working where you are.
B: Look for a similar job in a company where you will be better compensated and/or appreciated. *
C: Change careers to work in an environment you’ll enjoy and that better fits your needs and lifestyle. *
* Points B & C may also include going into business for yourself or with a trustworthy partner.
Before initiating action follow the steps below and get some professional insight, feedback and guidance from a trustworthy knowledgeable source to avoid a big mistake.
1: Complete your research before you act or react. When you are seeking a promotion or increase in pay you must know what the overall market is like in your locale and, more important, you must factor in where you fit in your company’s pay structure and in your company’s plans for the future. It also pays to know what is going on inside your company in terms of financial health, M&A rumors, pending deals etc. This can offer you an insight as to whether it is better to ask for a raise or promotion – and when, or if is best to quietly look for a new job.
If you’re considering changing careers, I suggest you first be honest with yourself and determine if it is because you are running towards something new and exciting or if you are running away from something at your current job. If it is the latter, you may just need a short break or a change in scenery rather than a change in careers.
Most important, before you do anything you must try and determine if your proposed career change will bring about the desired results.
2: Before taking any concrete action i.e. writing and circulating your resume, networking for leads and contacts, or preparing to meet with or confront your employer about your future, you need to gather your facts, put them down in writing and prepare a winning verbal presentation.
Start by identifying your successes and accomplishments and the positive contribution you have made over the past 12 months or since your last review. Then project and articulate your potential as an employee and what it is you can contribute short and long term to your present employer in the months and years ahead. You can do the same thing, but for a new employer, if you determine a change in scenery is in your best interest.
Once you have uncovered all the facts and you’ve written them on paper or on your desktop, you then begin to develop and perfect your pitch and practice it until it flows out of your mouth smoothly and with conviction.
If you want to make a career change I suggest you discover whether you’ll need to start over from the bottom, how long it will take you to reach your desired goal, and determine without a doubt if you’re willing to make this commitment. You’ll also need to know what additional or new skills, education, or credentials will be required to make the transition and how you will acquire them if they are non-existent at present.
3: There is no “perfect” time to ask for a raise, transfer or promotion, look for a new job, or change careers. Still timing is everything and in most cases there is a more fortuitous time to take action. Your job, and it is not an easy one, is to determine the optimal time, line up the proper allies, and find the best person in your company to make your sales pitch to. I would love to offer more specifics here but when it comes to this topic advice is very personal, so rather than confuse or mislead you I will leave it as is. You may reach out to me if you want specifics about your personal situation.
As always I am available to critique U.S. resumes and offer suggestions on how to improve them at no cost. You can send me an email with your current resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.