How to be Your Own Advocate at Work
It’s time to take charge of your career. That raise or promotion that’s justifiably yours is long overdue – you just haven’t had the nerve to ask for it. Advocating for yourself in the workplace can be stressful and awkward since many people are unsure of how to assert themselves or bring attention to their accomplishments at work without coming across as boastful or offensive. Outlining your value and negotiating for better pay, job title, or responsibilities may just not be your comfort zone. And you might not be ready to seek out another more lucrative job or one with greater leadership opportunities.
But nothing ventured, nothing gained. If you don’t speak up for yourself, you may remain at your current salary or position for the foreseeable future. You don’t want to linger too long in the same role while you could be charting your own course full of pride, monetary reward and career recognition.
Don’t know how to muster up the courage and confidence to take charge of your career, speak up for yourself at work, and advocate for your own career advancement? Review these 6 tips for owning your worth at work:
1. Do your homework. Once you’ve scheduled a one-on-one with your boss, you’ll need information to back up what you’re asking for. Be specific and focused in your request. Do you want more responsibility? A higher salary? If salary, for example, come prepared: What is the average salary for your position regionally, nationally? For a merit-based raise, what is the general norm? Does your job performance warrant the lower or higher end of that range? Use your performance at work to justify your request. For example, point out sales you’ve generated or money you’ve saved to demonstrate how deserving you are.
2. Set realistic expectations. If you’re asking for higher pay, keep in mind that your current salary may not meet average standards for valid reasons. Are you new to the field? Do you need additional education or certifications? Have you been with your current employer for under a year? Such factors may work against you in your negotiation, so be prepared to address any concerns or expectations your employer might have.
3. Make a date. Scheduling official time to talk to your manager about your performance and your career path with the company is essential. These kinds of communications should never occur via email, telephone or in the hallway. A face to face conveys the serious nature of the meeting, so regard it as you would a client meeting or job interview.
4. Learn how to communicate your value. A large part of being your own advocate in the workplace means understanding how and getting comfortable with communicating your value, aptitudes, and accomplishments. For example, speak up about any new responsibilities you’ve taken on, share a short list of your biggest “wins” from the past year, or highlight the outcomes of projects you played a key role in that proved highly successful. This will put you in a better position to ask for a raise or a higher position as your request will be based on your proven ability to perform above and beyond expectations.
5. Reject rejection. If you feel like you’re career has stalled despite advocating for yourself on a regular basis, try first to understand you the reasons behind this. If your performance is in question, perhaps you need to re-evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and focus more on your own personal growth for a while. If, however, your manager seems to ignore your stellar performance and provides you no clear path to advance within the company, it may be time to think of moving elsewhere.