There are TWO things that you must know about yourself in order to be successful on the job. First, you must know what you are worth. Understanding your market value using tools like Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth Tool will help you to understand how much you should be paid for the type of role you are entering. Second, you should know your non-negotiables. Know what you will or will not deal with on the job. To some, it could be a negative environment, to others it could be discrimination, and to the rest it could be an inappropriate supervisor. Either way, know this information up front so you can make better decisions before accepting a job opportunity.
CHECK IN ON YOUR REPUTATION ASAP. If you have missed out on more than one promotional opportunity and no one is able to give you a specific reason why, odds are it has something to do with your REPUTATION. And not one is tell you! Two things will always remain true in corporate America, (1) managers are conflict avoidant, which means that they will try to avoid uncomfortable conversations where possible. And your reputation is a very sensitive and uncomfortable conversation to have. (2) If you do not find out how others perceive your reputation, your organization will find five million OTHER reasons to tell you why you are not being promoted. It is up to you to ask the right people how they perceive your reputation without being defensive in return. If you want that promotion, it is up to you to course correct immediately. Take your manager along that journey with you. Tell them that you are working to change your reputation, solicit your manager’s help, and share with your manager (periodically) the things that you have been doing to improve. And watch how quickly things change for you!
WANT TO ASK FOR A RAISE? If you wait for your performance review to ask for a raise, you are already too late. Ask for a raise well before performance review season. In addition, do not justify your request with feelings and because you feel you deserve a raise. Instead use facts and data. Share with your boss that you have done your market research and have learned that you are behind your peers in the industry who are doing the same type of work. Let your boss know that you love what you do and where you work, but you are concerned that by staying here you will continue to fall behind. Then ask your boss what he/she would do if they were you?
YOUR RESUME MUST SHOW THAT YOU ARE ACCOMPLISHED. Accomplishments are what employers want to see. In every job, you must answer one question. What became BETTER because you worked there? Did you get new customers, have a high customer satisfaction rating, did you lower costs, process improve anything, etc.? If so, make sure that you’ve listed your accomplishment(s) clearly on your resume. Each job should have 4-6 bullet points. Two bullet points should state your job duties and the remaining 2-4 bullet points should list job accomplishments.
YOU MUST BELIEVE IN YOUR OWN ABILITIES! The confidence you have in your own knowledge, skills, and abilities WILL show externally to anyone you meet, especially recruiters and hiring managers. EVERY job offer starts with YOUR display of confidence in your own ability to get the job done. Find your confidence. Show your confidence. Maintain your confidence throughout the interview process. Land the job!
NEGOTIATE MORE THAN YOUR SALARY! When you receive a job offer, keep in mind that you can negotiate more than your base salary. Salary negotiation starts with one essential question: What is important to ME? Is it essential to you to have your relocation expenses paid, to receive a signing bonus, to have more vacation days, stock options, a flexible work schedule, the ability to work remotely, etc.? Everything that is most important to you should be negotiated up front.
KEEP YOURSELF ON THE JOB MARKET! This means that you should continue networking, keep your resume and LinkedIn profile up-to-date, and stay abreast of new career opportunities that are advertised. Listen, stay close to the market even (and especially) if your career trajectory at your current company is great. Keeping yourself on the market ensures that you remain competitive. Your salary, your skills, your networks should always remain aligned to your peers in the market doing the same work. Staying on the market keeps you on your toes and offers another perspective of your value outside of your current employer’s. Worst case scenario, something changes at your current job—well, you already have new job prospects. Best case scenario, you receive a new job offer and your current employer is ready to negotiate to try and keep you. It’s a win-win.
Apply to MULTIPLE job opportunities, simultaneously. It creates better odds that you will interview for multiple job opportunities, simultaneously. When you apply to a single opportunity, you place all your “eggs in one basket.” This can set off a chain of unwanted, unconscious effects. You place all your hopes in the outcome of this ONE job. These anxious hopes make you feel more nervous. Your nervousness creates more missteps during the interview. Your missteps cause you to interview poorly. The mediocre interview causes the employer to select another candidate. Remember, however, that the exact opposite scenario is also true. So, my advice—ALWAYS apply to multiple job opportunities, simultaneously.
If you are rejected for a job offer, ASK FOR FEEDBACK. It is critical to know how an employer made their decision. Feedback gives you an opportunity to course correct when you interview in the future. The feedback also could be that your rejection wasn’t due to anything you did. There could be other extenuating circumstances that have nothing to do with you. This can be a sense of relief. Either way, do not assume, just ask. Due to liability and risk, employers and recruiters are taught to not give feedback unless asked. And even when asked, the feedback can be generic. A great way to ask is, “Could you please share with me what behaviors I demonstrated during the interview that negatively affected me as a candidate? I would like to use this information to improve for any future interviews.”
Ask curious and thoughtful questions during your interview. Do not wait until the end. Try less to have prewritten, generic questions. Instead, follow the tone of the interview. Ask probing questions that compliment the theme of the interview. Good questions demonstrate engagement. It turns the interview into a conversation. Conversations are memorable.
To lessen interview nervousness, always remember to ask questions throughout the interview. It reminds you that an interview is just as much for you to get to know the company as it is for the company to get to know you and it lessens the amount of time you will need to spend answering questions.