Imagine it’s Monday morning. Are you relishing the week or are you seeing it as Day 1 of a new hostage situation? Are you managed by a moron, captive in a role you’ve out-grown and fearful that the smell in your nostrils is that of your career, stagnating? If so, it’s time to move up or move on.
You’re under-utilised, highly employable and a person of action (right?), but storming into your boss’s office, pounding the table and demanding your just rights – promotion or you’ll walk – is highly unlikely to deliver what you want. A deep rooted certainty that you know best, a conviction that everyone else is inadequate and threats amounting to blackmail are no basis for convincing anyone you’re a team player and ready for more responsibility. So what is?
Imagine yourself attending an interview for that next step-up role. Ask yourself three questions: What role are you applying for? What’s the scope of responsibility? What might you be expected to achieve?
If you were applying for a vacant role, then that thinking would have been done already by your potential future boss. In your case, you have a blank canvas on which you can imagine your ideal role or your next logical career step.
Consider the practicalities. Think about how your imagined role fits within the organisation. Are you focusing on your boss’s job, or a new role entirely? Where does the company have problems? For a new role, how could a new appointment and a change in structure be brought about? What are the benefits of doing so?
Now work out why someone should appoint you. Why are you suitable? What have you done previously that indicates you can take on extra responsibility? Why are you better than other candidates that might be found? How would you approach starting the job? What would you look to achieve in your new role?
Make a final decision. If you decide that the step is too great today that’s not a problem, your thinking will help you identify where you’re weak. You can start to bolster that immediately, secure in the knowledge you’re being a proactive career builder, not just a moaning Minnie or a critical Colin.
Commit. Nail your flag to the mast and set sail before the tide turns by booking an appointment with either your boss or HR. The formality signals they’ll need to pay attention, you’re not just cruising by for a casual drop-in no-worries chat.
If you’re asked for a reason, avoid the word promotion and stay non-threatening. “Hey boss? You’ve had your go and I’m thinking you should move on,” will see you facing a well armed wall of negativity before you even get in the room.
Keep things open. Run the discussion as an enquiry, not a demand. Let your boss know that you believe you’re ready to look at taking on more. State why you think the time is right, but keep it short, sharp and focused – this is no time for a rambling discourse on the bleak path of your career-life to date.
As a matter of strategy, ask your boss how they see things and what opportunities there could be. You never know what they might surprise you with, plus you don’t risk selling yourself short.
Be patient and realistic. The ideal result would be a prompt, defined and supportive well-structured plan that could include further training. Congratulations and a glass of something celebratory would be in order.
The sub-optimal result would be a load of wooly promises accompanied by, ‘We’re working on it. It will all take time and it’s a bit complicated’. If your boss looks shifty and sounds nervous, it’s a fair bet you’re driving into a blind alley.
Look grateful. Whatever comes back, or doesn’t, look and sound appreciative. If you’ve now got a new role to look forward to, be thankful for the help and support. If you’re disappointed, gutted even, there’s no benefit in showing it.
Set a new course. If you haven’t got the result you want, it’s time to look outside. Thankfully, all of your earlier thinking will help you to focus on the type of role to look for and help you draw together a much stronger CV.
Set a deadline for action. Today. Now. Make it this Friday. This is really hard to do when you feel like you’ve just been kicked in the teeth, but trust me, it’s the best therapy. Aim to find something to apply to by the end of the week. Look for ads, but if you don’t find any, target suitable employers directly. Don’t let the days, weeks and months just slip by in a sea of demotivation.
In conclusion, one way or another, you’re moving forward. You made a decision, thought it through and took some actions. If your existing employer won’t recognise your potential it’s their loss, so find a more enlightened one that will. You’ve already proved that you’re capable of taking on more, by having the guts to do what you’ve done already. Too many people just sit and wait for the job fairy to happen by. It’s your life and your career, hit it hard!
I wish you well with it, good hunting and always remember – no prisoners.
About the author: Jon Gregory is an author, editor, blogger & trainer on all things job hunting, interview prep & career development.