Looking to kick *ss at your new job? Here are 7 tips for how you can impress your boss, get a raise, make more money, become an invaluable employee, and achieve financial success.
If you’ve been here before, you may know that I’m very much a type-A, go-getter, dreamer and achiever kind of gal.
I always got straight As in high school. I graduated at the top of my university class with a 4.2 GPA. I have always had a knack for figuring out what it takes to succeed and not stopping until I get there.
(Mind you, this was prior to my personal growth journey, when I was constantly afraid of failing, and only took on what I thought I could knock out of the park… not the best strategy for growing and learning and reaching your full potential!)
Because of this grit, determination, and pure damn stubbornness, I have skyrocketed into a career in my 20s that is filled with 50 year old men.
I don’t know a lot of ladies my age working side by side with the owners of several companies to help them improve their productivity and efficiency and grow their business… but believe me, I wish I did! Which is why I feel the need to write this article.
Continuous improvement in the corporate world is mostly filled with old guys that have a gazillion years of experience.
So why did I somehow end up ahead of the game before everyone else?
In today’s post, I want to share 7 tips that helped me
- land my dream job
- rise to the top
- have the autonomy and impact I want
- WOW my boss, and
- get four substantial (20%) raises in only 4 years of working (ever).
If you aren’t doing these 7 things, it is likely costing you a great career.
// 1 // Set your own performance meetings
One big contributor to my success is being very proactive as an employee.
- I use a planner for work and set monthly goals for my job.
- I also do this for my blog, and for my personal life.
Thinking about what I want to accomplish at the start of the month sets me up for success.
It helps me prioritize what is important and keeps me from getting distracted with the day to day grind.
So, naturally, at the end of a few months, I’ve accomplished quite a lot.
Sound like you?
I’m sure you’re KILLING it at work, but if you aren’t sitting down and reflecting on the impact you’ve made, you are missing an opportunity to articulate your value to your boss.
Most companies hold ‘performance reviews’ annually, where you spend half an hour chit chatting with your boss about nonsense and wondering whether you will be getting a raise.
If you want to WOW your boss… set up your own meeting with him/her!
I recommend once every 3 months. Tell them you’d like to discuss whether you’re meeting their expectations, get some feedback on your performance, and how you could improve. Schedule the meeting, and give them a few questions to think about so that THEY show up prepared for YOU.
You could ask them to come up with
- 3 things you excelled in this month
- 3 things you could work on next month
- A specific instance where they noticed you shine
- A specific instance where they thought you could do better
When you show up to the meeting, go over
- What your goals were for the quarter, and what you have achieved
- Your biggest takeaways or key learnings from the quarter
- Projects you would like to focus on next/your goals for the next quarter
- Where you have performed strongly this quarter and where you think you could improve
Then ask them to answer the questions you had provided earlier.
Most of the time, your boss will be unable to come up with constructive criticism, and it ends up being a lovely meeting about how awesome you are.
This is perfectly fine!
Your boss likely won’t take the time to reflect on how amazing you are if you don’t prompt them to.
After a few of these quarterly meetings, your boss will get used to you asking for feedback and will provide constructive criticism. This is awesome!
You will know where your weaknesses are and can improve so that you provide even MORE value to the company and can negotiate an even BIGGER raise.
Also, feel free to take it to the next level.
Don’t just ask your boss, ask your boss’ boss too! Ask other high power people that you’ve worked on projects with.
Get as much feedback as you can, as frequently as is reasonable, AND THEN ACT ON IT.
When people see you taking their feedback seriously and improving yourself in real time they will be drawn to mentor you right up to their level!
A few more tips for running this meeting
- Keep it concise. Don’t drag it on.
Your goal is for them to leave the meeting feeling like it was a great use of their time to learn about you, your goals, and how much you’ve done for the company this quarter!
- Be confident.
Do not be afraid to “brag” about your accomplishments.
There is nothing shameful about expressing the great work you’ve done and asking your boss for their feedback.
- Meet outside the office.
If it’s possible to go out for lunch, coffee, or meet somewhere outside of your normal working space, you will have better luck keeping your boss’ full attention on you.
It’s just too easy to get interrupted, distracted with email, or lost in thought when you’re at the office. I’ve found that my bosses tended to be more open, honest, and cheerful when we get the heck outta there.
This might not work in all organizations, but if you can swing it, do it.
// 2 // Invite yourself to the party
Taking initiative, in work or in life, is the most reliable path to success.ANA MCRAE
If there are projects that you want to be involved in, but your name isn’t on the list, ask to be involved! Let whoever is in charge know that you are very interested in said project and you could bring x, y, and z skills to the table to ensure it is a massive success.
This is particularly true if you’re starting a new job! Don’t be afraid of clearly stating where you would be a valuable addition.
Do you expect them to know!? You’re brand spanking new.
They don’t know until you tell them (and then follow that up with showing them!)
In my first week at one job, I noticed that one of my colleagues had 11 projects on the go, and they still hadn’t figured out where to fit me in. I picked out the projects I thought sounded the coolest (that I could really shine in) and said…
“I notice your name is on a lot of these, I would love to help take the burden off your plate. Why don’t I take over a, b, and c. With my facilitation skills and project management training, I can knock them out of the park without you having to worry about a thing.”
People aren’t used to others ASKING for more work.
Especially in large companies where most people are just biding their time and waiting for happy hour.
If you want to be part of a project, ask.
If you want to be in a meeting, ask.
If you want to be on a committee, ask.
The more often you ask for MORE, the brighter you will shine
Especially in your first few weeks/months on the job when you’re still finding your way! You will get so much exposure to different projects, people, and environments so that you can pinpoint exactly where you want to end up in the future!
This gives you a chance to show your skills quicker than waiting for someone to hand you something they don’t really feel like doing.
Now, there is of course a balance to this, because you don’t want to take on too much and produce below-average results.
Your number one priority is involving yourself in projects you will excel at and playing to your natural strengths.
However, don’t be afraid to insert yourself wherever you see fit. Don’t wait to be asked!
// 3 // Don’t take any bullsh*t
Seems like a good time to talk about overworking yourself.
DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT ALLOW PEOPLE TO TRAMPLE OVER YOU.
- Do not pick up the slack for your colleagues.
- Do not take responsibility for mistakes that were not yours.
- Do not bring your work home with you.
- Do not check email during your downtime.
- Do not sacrifice your lunch every day.
- Do not stay late at the office every night.
- Do not work on weekends.
Just don’t do it!
This is something I feel so strongly about!
Most people hang out at the office until after their boss leaves (even if that’s not until 7pm!)
- They automatically check and respond to emails in the evening.
- They put in hours on the weekend.
- They set the precedent that they will always be available for anything.
Is that a good thing?
You are sending the message that your time is not valuable.
You are becoming the person that people give all of their crap to because they don’t want to deal with it and know you won’t refuse.
You are NOT becoming the person who gets the coolest projects that drive success.
Every choice you make, you are building an image in someone else’s mind.
You can choose whether that image is one of someone who is constantly busy doing something for someone and spreading themselves too thin across a bunch of inconsequential tasks, or…
You can choose to be the person who goes ALL IN in their role, produces amazing results, and stands their ground.
- Don’t take on more work when your plate is full
- Decline tasks that don’t propel you in the direction you want to go in
- Go home ON TIME every single day (including your first day! You are setting a precedent!)
- Do not do work outside of your working hours
When a high profile opportunity comes up, people will think of YOU because you are in control of your time, your life, and your work.
Not Sally Jane who is always running back and forth from the printer, looking frazzled and all over the place, bent over her notebook in meetings taking vigorous notes, but never speaking up, and always eating cold pizza at her cubicle at 8pm.
You know what you’re doing, and you get it done.
Now, this doesn’t mean you refuse to take part when it’s an all hands on deck kind of deal! Don’t make yourself unadaptable and never available. Of course make exceptions when they’re called for! Help the team! Pull it across the finish line! Get ‘er done!
But most of us don’t struggle with pitching in extra, we struggle with saying YES too often, spreading ourselves too thin, and being taken advantage of.
Here’s the other thing,
- Busy is not successful.
- Busy is not a badge of honor.
- Busy is sloppy and unproductive.
Do not let a company trample all over your time and your life. Stand up for your personal time. Show people that your time is valuable and refuse to settle for anything less.
Stop being busy and start being kick *ss.
By the way, if you think you could be better at managing your time, you need to check out my master course that brings you 25 time management principles that you can start using TODAY to get 7 hours back in your week, accomplish all of the tasks on your to do list, and reach your goals faster than ever before.
Related post: 5 Strategies For Better Time Management
// 4 // Ask great questions
The thing that will get you noticed in a room full people more experienced than you is asking good questions.
I honestly don’t know what I’m doing half the time.
So I don’t pretend that I know the answers.
I just get really good at asking good questions.
When you can stump people with a question they hadn’t thought of, you gain a whole new level of respect.
Make it your goal to ask one inquisitive question at every meeting! On that note, speak up in every meeting you’re invited to (and ones where you invited yourself!)
Good questions make you an interesting person that people want to have at the table.
Think of them!
// 5 // Dip your toes in all the pools
Regardless of whether your job is general, or very specialized, get your hands involved all over the company.
Participate in projects that cross departments and work with people with different backgrounds.
My bosses have always been impressed when everywhere they looked, I was involved in one aspect or another.
It comes back to taking initiative and showing that you are well suited to provide value to the entire company, and you don’t need to be asked to get your hands dirty.
Plus, you get to make so many friends and build a large network of connections that will serve you in the future!
// 6 // Give unsolicited opinions
Have you ever walked into your boss’ office and offered an opinion on something without being asked?
You should start doing that!
I don’t mean start inserting your nose into things that aren’t your business and bombarding your boss with meetings and emails they don’t care about.
- Research industry trends and point out if you think there’s a bandwagon the company should be jumping on.
- Benchmark against what other companies are doing and suggest a project the company could run in the near future.
- Identify best practices in your niche and ask your boss if the department has implemented any before.
Just try to show that you’re thinking about things bigger than your small role in the company.
Think big. It positions you for bigger and better things.
// 7 // Ask for the d*mn raise
This is something women don’t do enough.
Did you know that, women are 4 times less likely to ask for a raise than men?
What the heck! Are we less qualified? Absolutely not! We just minimize our greatness so as to not step on anybody’s toes. Enough of that!
According to the World Economic Forum, we don’t negotiate our starting salary, we don’t ask for a bigger office, and we undervalue ourselves. You might think that the size of your office doesn’t matter, but it translates to a bigger issue of not asking for what you’re worth.
With every new job I take on, I ask for a raise within the first year.
Not even a full year in either, I start poking at the conversation only a few months in.
Will this work for you? I don’t know your situation.
But I know what I’ve done to double my pay in the last 4 years.
During my interview, I ask for a salary that is $10,000-25,000 more than what I know the pay band to be. It shows them that I know my value and honestly just stumps them. I’m not saying I GET that much more than the pay band, but I definitely get the upper end right off the bat.
Within the first 3 months, I make sure I am clear on what my compensation is based on. During my first quarterly meeting with my boss (where I outline my goals and the impact I’ve made thus far) I make sure to discuss what my salary is based on and what I need to do to get to the next level. This gets them thinking about the fact that I am motivated to rise to the top.
Plus, it makes me more comfortable with talking about money out loud with my superiors. I know a lot of women struggle with that conversation.
I do too, but I make myself push through it. It gets easier every time.
7-9 months in I outline everything I’ve accomplished and I flat out ask for a raise. Mind you, you need to have actually achieved big things, but assuming you’re already doing that, ask for a damn raise.
It does not hurt to ask for a raise!
I mean, puking the morning of probably doesn’t feel the best, but you’ll get over it!
Literally, what’s the worst thing that could happen? No one in the world has been fired for asking for a raise. But that’s automatically where our brains go: ‘if I ask for more money they will fire me and I will die.’
Let’s be realistic now shall we…
Don’t ask for a 2% raise either, that’s bullsh*t. Ask for a 20% raise and say it with so much confidence that they don’t even question it.
Heads up, they will of course question it! As they should.
They will ask you why on earth you think you deserve a raise. Keep your smart head on your steady shoulders, and hold the conversation.
This is where many women falter.
If we make it far enough to ask for the raise, as soon as we’re met with resistance we shrink!
We basically say ‘never mind’ under our breath while running out of the room to vomit in the bathroom.
Amp up your confidence level and hold the conversation for the entire hour (or however long the meeting is set for) and go through exactly why you deserve to get a raise.
With every question they ask, give a solid answer. Don’t back down.
It may or may not sound like I am describing a battle here… but often that’s how it feels inside!
Our brains and our bodies overreact and we get all of these weird *ss physical symptoms, our voice shakes, we go into a full body sweat, and can no longer string two coherent thoughts together…
Get yourself together, power through it, and stand victorious.
How? Make sure you are prepared for this conversation and know exactly what you’re going to say.
- Highlight your biggest accomplishments
- Outline what other people in this position would be making somewhere else (if you think you’re underpaid)
- Demonstrate how you provide more value than the average Joe on the team
This is how I made MORE money per hour while negotiating to work LESS hours. Win win!
When they say “you’re already making X per hour, which is more than anyone else on the team” you say “regardless of what I’m making per hour, how much value did X project, Y contribution, Z process provide to the company? Certainly more than X per year.”
If you can tie your impact back to a financial number for the company, you win.
There’s lots of ways to go about asking for a raise, and you can find what works for you, but the bottom line is that you need to leap right out of your comfort zone and start asking for one!
Start asking when they don’t expect it!
Just have those conversations until they become natural.
That’s how you double your income in 4 years.
I am amazed at how many people I see working way harder than me and getting paid way less than me. I know every situation is different, but every situation can be helped with a little more courage, a little more confidence, and a little less comfort.
If you want to get to a whole new level, you have to show up in a whole new way.
- You have to know your worth and refuse to settle.
- Get involved.
- Take initiative.
- Stand up for yourself and your personal time.
- Speak up.
- And ask for a godd*mn raise.
You can do it.
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Do you struggle with having the conversation about what you’re worth? When has it worked out well for you to push through anyway? Let me know in the comments below!