The Working Woman’s New Year’s Resolutions for 2012

The New Year arrives this weekend and with it will be New Resolutions.   Or maybe your resolutions will be repeats of classics that you make annually.  Does exercise more, eat better, read more, save more money, or learn a new hobby sound familiar?  You are not alone!  I know I will have a repeat in my personal resolutions.

What about making a business resolution this year?  This is often a forgotten aspect of our life when it comes to resolutions.  I thought I would help jumpstart you with a baker’s dozen suggested resolutions that I believe are critical to career management and confidence to successfully negotiate higher salaries.

In 2012 resolve to:

  1. Know the market value of your job.  This knowledge is eye opening and empowering to many women.
  2. Develop a relationship with a mentor.  Having multiple mentors is optimal but aim to get your first this year.  Mentors should be both women and men and work within and outside your company. A good mentor has more experience than you and will advise you as you move through your career.
  3. Develop a relationship with a sponsor.  A sponsor is someone who has clout within your company or industry and will actively recommend and endorse you to others. Like mentors, it’s best to have more than one.
  4. Mentor another woman. Remember to share the wealth as you learn and develop clout of your own.
  5. Think of and communicate your contributions to the company in terms of accomplishments and financial impact.  You need to think like a manager to manage your career. Managers don’t really care about effort.  Their focus is results as should yours.
  6. Network with people in your company who do not work in the same department.  The best advice I got in my first job was to be friendly with the people in accounting because you never know when you will need their help.  I’ve taken that advice a step further.  Become friendly with people in all departments.  Each department has a unique perspective of what’s happening in a company.  Being able to see from these various perspectives is amazingly helpful regardless of what your job is.  Plus you may find a different department is a better fit for your interests and abilities.  Having friends who welcome you to a position within a company is a great plus.
  7. Network with people in your industry.  The issues of your company may or may not be the issues of the industry.  You may work for the best of the best and network to find future employees.  You may discover other companies are better fits for your personality and abilities.  Knowing the big picture and people outside of your company will help keep you stay marketable and ready to change when you want or are forced to look for a change.
  8. Jump on the digital bandwagon and network online.  LinkedIn is the leading online business-networking site.  Create your profile and connect to people you already know.  Then get bold and join a group.  Ask or answer a question.  Then you will be ready to ask people that you want to know to connect with you.  Spend about 15 minutes a week on LinkedIn and  you will soon find yourself using it time and time again to find a new partner, employee, vendor, advisor, and/or employer.
  9. Accept praise from management.  If you don’t already, learn to just say “thank you” when someone gives you praise.  Do not diminish the praise by downplaying your accomplishment.    How can you later play up the same accomplishments to get a raise if you continually downplay them when management gives you a “Atta Girl”?
  10. Know what you want the next step in you career to be.  We all need to grow and change things from time to time.  Regardless what your job is today, it will most likely not be the same job in 3-5 years.  Start thinking about what you would like to do next.  Thinking about it sooner than later helps you think about what you need to do to get to the next stage of your career.
  11. Tell management what you want the next step of your career to be.  Just as important as you knowing what you want to do next is to let management know.  They can help you accomplish the next move within the company.
  12. Negotiate your next starting salary or raise.  You are underpaid if you did not negotiate your salary so next time start to rectify the problem by negotiating your salary.
  13. Be nicer to yourself.  There is a tendency for many people to be their own worst critic.  Try to cut yourself some slack this year.  Allow yourself to make mistakes.  Learn from them but don’t beat yourself up after a mistake.

Each of the resolutions will take time to accomplish and will have missteps along the way.  Should you decide to undertake any of these, be kind to yourself as you work through it.  The goal of all these resolutions is not to make a perfect you.  It’s to improve your well being in the work world.

Happy New Year and Happy Career!

Options Create Power When Negotiating Salary

You know you deserve a raise.  You’ve done the research and you are ready to ask for a 30% increase in salary but will settle for a 20% increase. What if you cannot get the “walkaway “ minimum raise of 20%?  Do you know if you can get another job with relative ease?  Do you know whom you would reach out to first?  Do you know if you have kept your skillset up-to-date with the in-demand skills?

The Presence of Calm Power

The ability to answer yes to the above questions will give you added confidence as you negotiate your raise.  This added confidence translates into a calm power that will be as present like a third person in the room.  Oh, I know it may sound a little too touchy feely for some people.  Stay with me on this for just a moment and it will make sense. Think of the extra power you feel when you put on the go-to outfit for important meetings.  Or the authority you exude after you exercise.  Or the resilience and flexibility you gain from lunch with friends outside the office instead of alone at your desk. All these things are not directly related to your job but they all help you create a presence during your workday.  The same can be true about cultivating and knowing your career options.

Cultivating Career Options

Cultivating career options should be on every working person’s checklist.  This is a three-pronged to-do list that includes skillset, network, and periodic testing of the waters aka applying for jobs within and outside of your current employer.  Skillset and network are constant.  Applying for a job is a periodic activity.

Keep Your Skills Up-to-Date

Let’s start with skillset.  There are very few jobs and industries that are doing things the same way they did 10, 20, 30 years ago.  For some industries huge change can occur annually.  Are you aware of what the changes are?  Have you attended conferences, taken courses, read books and blogs, follow industry gurus through social media?  Have you read a job posting with your job title?  Hopefully you can handle the responsibilities and requirements and have the necessary experience to apply to it.  You may feel comfortable in your company but your company will eventually expect you to know the same things that your competitors require.  If you don’t know everything on the job description than you know what you need to learn.

In-Person and Online Networking

You’ve probably heard the expression “It’s not what you know but who you know that matters.”  Michael Brown, the former head of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) during Hurricane Katrina, can attest to that.  Think of what you can accomplish in your career if you have the skills and know the right people!

Networking off-line is the ladies strength.  We like to see and talk with people and develop long-term relationships.  Remember to network with men and women in your industry.  Join and volunteer for the industry trade-association, local chamber of commerce, school alumni network, or any other affinity group.  Actively participating in one function or group within these organizations truly form stronger bonds than drinking together at a meet and greet.  Networking in person is very beneficial but don’t forget to take these contacts and add them to your online network.

LinkedIn is the online business-networking site.  The site ranks 13th of all web sites.  There are only 12 sites such as Facebook and Google that have more traffic.  If you don’t belong to LinkedIn that you really are not career networking online.  Unfortunately, a recent study shows that men are savvier LinkedIn networkers than women.   Just this week I had suggested to a women that she send a request to “Connect” via LinkedIn to each business contact she made for a particular project.  Her appalled response was “But, that’s my personal account!”   My response to her…”That’s the point!”

The first great use of LinkedIn is using it as an online Rolodex (remember those) of the people you encounter in business.  You will be amazed how most will happily answer YES to your request.  The first big plus is you will not longer need to update contact information. LinkedIn gives you the ability to search your contacts by industry, company, location, titles, etc.  So, the next time you know you met someone who works at X, you can easily figure out who it is.  That’s the low-hanging-fruit reason to use LinkedIn.  The more fun networking happens when you join groups within LinkedIn that deal with topics of interest for your career. See what others are talking about.  Ask questions to the groups and you will be astonished by the knowledge people will freely share. Another great networking reasons is that you can find out how you may be connected to a company through friends of friends.  Instant access to know who can introduce you to the hiring manager for a job you want.  How cool is that?!  The next reason can be good or bad depending on your perspective.  I think of it as only good.  Recruiters are searching on LinkedIn for new hires.  From time to time you may have a headhunter contact you about an opening that may interest you.  Now, I call that learning your options without any heavy lifting.

Apply for Jobs Periodically

Hopefully you go to the dentist, the doctor, the auto-mechanic, and the hairdresser on regular intervals to keep everything running smoothly and looking good.  Think of applying for a job periodically as keeping your career and salary running smoothly and looking good.  Periodically can mean annually or bi-annually.  Doing this when you are not itching for a change is the best time. You will have nothing to lose because you still enjoy your current job.  You will apply for jobs that are the dream jobs and perhaps a bit out of your reach.  Shock of shocks you will find that they are within your reach.   Your decisions about staying or changing jobs will be based on excitement and challenges instead of the fear-based job decisions because we need a new job.

You will realize that your options truly are limitless if you do these three things regularly.  Knowing this will empower you never to settle for less than you deserve.

@ Copyright 2011 by Katie Donovan