Do you want to make some big moves in 2015? Whether you want to land your dream job, earn a long-awaited promotion, or want to change careers entirely, here are 10 ways to step up your game and stand out from the rest in 2015.
1. Ask for it. In our 24/7 instant access whirlwind of a workplace, it is so easy for the days to fly by without ever having the ideal opportunity to ask your boss if she can sit down to talk for a few minutes to discuss whatever is on your mind. Speak up! Clearly, directly, and specifically. Don’t assume that others know what you need. You don’t get if you don’t ask.
2. Write it. Back up what you want in writing. Nothing communicates your seriousness more than putting it in writing. For example, the best way to prepare for an annual review is to create a beautifully formatted document that includes:
- The job description you were hired to do
- The job description that you are currently (and actually) doing including the number of hours per week that it takes for you to do it
- A list of your achievements from the past year
- A list of ideas and projects that you would like to be involved with in the coming year
Some people are reluctant to do this because they believe it may come across as “bragging.” Not true. Rather, it speaks to how committed and passionate you are about your work. Stick with the facts and it will be all good as you help your boss remember all the great things you did and to understand what awesome things he can expect from you in the year ahead. The end result will be a discussion of your compensation and why a raise is completely justified.
3. Speak to the elephants in the room. To get what you want, it is important to speak directly to the issues at hand. Speaking truth to power will be appreciated and respected. Examples of what to say:
- What would you like to see me do in order to justify this increase in salary/promotion to X position?
- How can I help you to achieve your goals?
- I can see something is bothering you. Can I help?
- I’ve read that the company may be in financial trouble. Is that true and how will that impact our work.
- May I have a few minutes to share some concerns I have?
4. Clean up your act. A new year is a great time to take a fresh look at your physical appearance and how you “read” to others. The cliché is true that first impressions die hard. Others see you before they ever speak with you. Dress for the job you want, not the one you have. Get rid of clothes that don’t fit well and that you don’t wear. Spruce up your wardrobe and your outlook with new shoes, jacket, teeth whitening or a haircut – whatever makes you feel great. Even small changes in appearance can bolster self-confidence, self-esteem, self-respect and that can make the game-changing difference. What do you want your “look” to say about you?
5. Make it personal. Take the time to have face-to-face meetings and to get to know the people in your office and in your business. Texting may seem more efficient but it may not be smarter. People do things for people who they know. There is simply no substitute for shaking someone’s hand and looking them in the eye. The personal touch is powerful, especially in our very impersonal world.
6. Hand-written thank you notes. This is so not old school. If you really want to stand out from other job candidates, use this strategy. Within an hour after your interview, send an email to your interviewer(s) that is letter-perfect. In the note, make reference to something about your conversation and why you are excited about the position. Then, hand-write a legible, well-written and sincere thank you note and send it via snail mail that will arrive in one or two days. This brief note will bring you to front of mind to the interviewer and will be guaranteed to make you stand out as a serious candidate.
7. Network! 65% of all new jobs are found through networking rather than recruiters. Create professional business cards for yourself. The key is to follow-up with your network. If you schedule a 10 minute phone meeting with a colleague to ask a few questions, honor that time. When you reach out to connect to a new colleague on LinkedIn, be sure to write a brief paragraph about why you are wanting the connection and include an offer to help them.
8. Social Media & Personal Branding. Take a hard look at how you are being perceived on social media with special emphasis on LinkedIn. If you don’t know, ask someone you know and trust to evaluate your profile. Your profile should be complete and match your resume. It is important to have an excellent photograph to accompany the profile. Doing this is worth the time and money to ensure that you are being seen in the best light – literally.
9. Be a Mentor. Find a Mentor. In the complicated workplace of 2015, one of the keys to success will be mentoring. Generously extend yourself to others who would benefit from your skills. Don’t assume that others know your skills and talents. You need to tell them. Say: “I’d like to help you on that project using my expertise in PowerPoint.” Become known as someone who helps others and doors will open. Say “yes.”
10. Learn! The most successful employees are committed to and insist on life-long learning. To that purpose, they have created a “learning path” for themselves, even if no one in the company has created it for them. On the learning path, you will decide what classes, workshops, and conferences are important for your professional growth. Ideally your company will pay for your training but if not, do it anyway. Invest in you. You are worth it and no education is ever wasted. You can negotiate and perhaps your company will pay for a portion of the cost. Do not permit your skills to go stale. Ongoing training keeps you relevant, marketable, and invaluable to your employer.
Happy New Year! May 2015 exceed your highest expectations.