- Blog ·
Quiet as it’s kept, hard work is only a single component of what it takes to be successful. While putting in time, energy and effort is a pre-requisite for success, hard work alone is not enough to ensure it. What can you do to further your career after you have built up the skills, solidified your professional relationships and learnt the ins and outs of your industry?
The truth is, we tend to leave too much of our professional development in the hands of our managers and superiors. While in an ideal world, your manager would be personally invested in your career development and growth, in reality, they may lack the resources or desire to do so. If you want to advance in your career, it’s up to you to communicate what you need, what you intend to achieve and how you want to get there - to the right people.
While advocating for yourself in the workplace can be a difficult thing to grasp, being able to speak up for yourself is a valuable skill you will need to skillfully master and evolve throughout your working life.
What does it mean to advocate for yourself?
Advocating for yourself at work can help you develop a plan to achieve your career goals while significantly improving the quality of your professional life.
When you learn to effectively communicate your needs, boundaries, expectations and aspirations within the professional setting, it ensures that the right people are aware of your goals and how they can help to get you there.
Whether you are a young professional looking to climb the ladder or an experienced professional who is looking to take the next big step in their career, perfecting this skill can be the difference between you spending years in the same role and paving a clear path to the executive suite.
Self-advocacy done right
Make sure what you want aligns with the overall goals of the organisation. When you can frame your needs in a way that makes sense to your superiors for their intended outcomes, you will have a greater chance of your expectations being met.
You should be able to clearly articulate how you add value to the team and to your organization. Write down and be well versed in your strengths, contributions, projects you completed and accomplishments.
The chances are, your coworkers and superiors aren’t overly concerned with how well you are doing in your individual role. Don’t wait for your colleagues to recognise how hard you are working, highlight and celebrate your accomplishments when appropriate.
Build genuine, productive relationships with your colleagues while earning your reputation as a productive and hardworking member of the team. This way, other people will notice your contributions too and when it’s time to advocate for yourself, you won’t have to work too hard to convince others of the value you bring to the table.
Advocating for yourself isn’t all about you. Before you enter into negotiations, be mindful of who you are addressing (their expectations, goals and mindset) in any given setting and tailor your communication appropriately to the person you are talking to.
Getting ahead in your career doesn’t have to take decades of toiling in the trenches, recognizing your strengths, talking about your contributions, being a dependable part of every team you’re on and surrounding yourself with mentors and a strong support network are all forms of self-advocacy that you should be practising regularly. This incorporated with some careful planning and a lot of determination will help reveal your true value and get you well on the way to advancing your career.
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