1. Propose a big, disruptive new idea to your boss and if they say no, don’t give up. Simply retreat, reformulate your sales pitch and try again. Keep selling your idea until your boss sees the wisdom in it and gives you a green light to proceed. Claim that triumph on your resume!
2. Speak up at a meeting when the air is thick with tension and everybody knows it — but no one will name the elephant in the room. Be the brave person who says “Another thing we should talk about is X.” You will shift the energy in your department for the better. Feel the fear and speak up anyway!
3. Tell your boss “No, I can’t [work this weekend, fly to Hong Kong tomorrow, etc.] — that won’t work for me.” Set boundaries with your boss. If you don’t set boundaries, you will become a door mat and get trampled on!
4. Plan and execute a stealth job search — a job search you conduct while you’re working at your current job.
6. Ask for and receive a pay raise beyond whatever your company is giving out for an annual increase. Make the case that your performance and/or the scope of your role warrant a salary review. Gather data from Salary and Payscale, industry-specific salary surveys and any other sources you can find. Create a report for your boss that lays out your contributions to the company’s success. If it takes several conversations with your boss to make your pay increase happen, all the better. Don’t give up if your boss initially says “I wish I could help you, but I can’t.”
7. Coach a friend through his or her job search process. The learning you’ll get by helping someone else pick a career direction, brand themselves, reach out to hiring managers, interview and negotiate a job offer will help you do all those things yourself!
8. Join a professional association and take on a volunteer role in it. Step into leadership in your volunteer capacity if your employer doesn’t have a leadership role available for you right away (or even if they do). Managing volunteers is a better way to learn true leadership skills than supervising paid employees — because volunteers will disappear if you don’t treat them right!
9. Introduce yourself to the highest-ranking executive in your organization. Let them know what you do for the company and offer your services if they ever need help from your department. Follow up with a brief, polite email message. These days we have to cultivate our own mentors and guides!
10. Stop and reflect on your journey as often as you can — at least once per quarter, and once per month if possible. Get a journal and write in it. Ask yourself “Am I on my path? Am I learning and growing in my job, my volunteer activities, my networking and my life in general?” Check in with your trusty gut often.
The brass ring in this new millennium is not a fancy job title — it’s the power you build inside yourself by taking risks.
You’ll accomplish everything you want to accomplish in your life and career as long as you remember that the scariest things we can do and say are the things that teach us the most.
All the best,