Advance Your Career: How to Advocate for Yourself at Work
When you want to make big leaps in your career, there’s no room to fly under the radar. In truth, hard work keeps you secure in your current position—but self-advocacy gets your efforts noticed and your professional goals met. Consider these metrics:
· 68% of workers have taken on extra tasks without a raise in hopes of being promoted.
· 4.5% of employees received promotions within two years of being hired.
Whether you’re seeking a promotion or interviewing for a job, getting a role you’re passionate about begins with showcasing your value while expressing your needs and goals. Learn how to advocate for yourself at work and pave your path to success.
1. Establish a Clear Vision
Learning to advocate for yourself starts with knowing what you want. The purpose of your self-advocacy should shape how you communicate your needs and accomplishments to employers.
Consider where you see yourself in the next year. Do you want to get a promotion or expand your skillset and achieve lateral growth? Do you want to become a leader within your current company or enter a new organization or industry? Outline your salary expectations, ideal company culture, and how you want to spend your average workday.
2. Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses
When you fully understand your value, you won’t settle for less than you deserve—and you’ll convince your current or potential employers that they shouldn’t make you settle. Take time to write out your professional strengths, including both technical and soft skills, and highlight the ones that make you stand out the most. At the same time, stay cognizant of potential growth areas.
As part of this exercise, you can sit down with your manager or a member of your HR team to discuss your role and purpose. A third-party perspective can help you gain clarity about what you do and where you go above and beyond your role, as well as how your contributions are perceived. Utilize their input to identify strengths and weaknesses—both in your skillset and in your professional image.
Your discussions will shed light on where you need advocate for yourself more—for instance, if your manager isn’t aware of your creative contributions—and where you actually need to grow to align with the requirements of your ideal position.
3. Document Your Accomplishments
Effective self-advocates know how to tell a story. Anyone can list out their strengths—but professionals who offer a compelling narrative of objective success can fully engage employers and convince them a promotion, raise, or job offer is the natural next step. Stories illustrate continuous growth and unlimited potential.
So how do you objectively showcase your accomplishments? Tie your contributions back to data-backed results. As an example, a software engineer can mention how time to deployment (TTD) decreased when they overhauled an existing, bottleneck-filled process. Strengthen your narrative with metrics, which you can document in a personal file or shareable portfolio to regularly review and rehearse your best talking points.
4. Be Candid About Your Professional Goals
Don’t keep your career goals to yourself. You might not be ready to make a big leap right now—but keeping your manager, mentors, and peers in the loop opens you up to opportunities. Sharing your aspirations is an important form of self-advocacy that allows other people to advocate on your behalf.
Your biggest supporters want to help—whether it’s by offering relevant feedback, mentioning your name in the right conversations, or providing resources—but may need guidance from you. Be open to discussing your ideal timeline for receiving a promotion, the certifications or degrees you want to pursue, and other opportunities you plan to leverage over the next five years.
5. Practice Self-Advocacy
Before interviewing for your dream job or making a big ask, like a salary increase request, get comfortable with self-advocacy. Regularly practice articulating your value in small ways—for example, by advocating for your professional opinion when a coworker disagrees or sharing your progress with your manager. Over time, you’ll understand how to refine your verbiage to get more positive responses.
Work with Recruiters Who Advocate on Your Behalf
Understanding how to advocate for yourself at work is critical—and when you’re confident about your goals and strengths, you can start putting your self-advocacy skills into practice to work toward a big career move. However, you don’t have to navigate professional growth on your own. With experienced recruiters in your corner, you’ll gain a team of advocates who will help you find the role you really want.