If you’re searching for a job, here’s something you already know: it sucks. There’s nothing fun about going through hundreds of job listings, tailoring your resume to each one and firing it off into the abyss, not knowing if it’s ever even going to be viewed by a recruiter. Looking for employment is a job in itself, and it sucks up time, energy, patience, and probably a lot of your sanity.
I was just like you. Applying to every job that even remotely related to my skillset and going months without so much as a “you’re useless” email in response. I had basically the same framework for a resume my entire time job hunting, but I only started getting hits for interviews in the past few months. So what changed? After a lot of trial and error, and rewriting my resume every single time I sent it out, I finally got it to a good place…started getting calls for interviews — a victory in itself in the overcrowded job market — and just recently accepted a job offer (hurray!). I spent a year tirelessly searching for a new opportunity, and if there’s some sort of instant, miracle advice to land the perfect job, I certainly don’t know it. But what I can tell you is that there definitely are some ways to get yourself noticed. Here’s how I got there:
Do NOT just make up one standard resume and send it out for every job. A generic resume that can apply to all sorts of jobs is not going to convince anyone that you’re a good fit for the job in question. You need to put in that time to read the job description and illustrate how your skills apply to it. Be specific. You should go so far as taking keywords in the description and literally putting them in your resume. Recruiters get hundreds upon hundreds of applicants for each job listing. Their eyes are going to skim over each application and look for the most critical skills. Anything that doesn’t have them? Trash!
I added a line at the very top of my resume that specifically mentioned the job I was applying to, and then listed several sentences underneath it about how I am that person. It doesn’t matter that my current job is something different; I can be that person you’re looking for and here are x, y, z reasons why. Your first sentence should be compelling and confident. For example, mine is: “Driven, efficient and customer service-oriented marketing professional with experience managing the social media presence of an online magazine.” I was mostly applying for jobs in marketing or social media related fields. This opening sentence flat out states exactly who I am and what I do. When I changed this sentence from what it was before, suddenly I started getting calls.
There’s a reason networking gets mentioned all the time. The more people that you talk to and let know that you’re looking for new opportunities, the more likely someone might actually refer you somewhere. Bring it up to everyone you talk to. Seriously! If you work in a big company, take advantage of it and try to set up informational interviews with people in fields you are interested in. Most execs are more than happy to talk about what they do and how they got there. You’ll get valuable insight, and they might also keep you in mind should something open up in their department. It’s good to have friends in high places, y’all.
Google is a beautiful thing: it makes finding things ridiculously easy. This can also come back to bite you in the arse. I Googled myself not long ago and was shocked to see that an essay I wrote in 6TH GRADE is actually online somewhere. When an employer Googles me, they get to read “What The American Flag Means To Me” by a 12 year old version of myself. Lucky them. My point is, you need to know what is out there about yourself. If you have a public Facebook or Twitter page, you’d better believe that you’re going to be judged by it. Either protect your accounts, or make sure that you don’t have anything up that might raise eyebrows.
You have talents and skills — show them off! Buy your own website under your full name and think about starting a blog. You don’t need to be considered an “expert” to do this. You can write or tweet about your thoughts on things relevant to your field. It will make you appear more credible and competent. If writing really isn’t your thing, you can also just buy some webspace and post your bio/resume on it. That way if people Google you (and they will), it will be one of the first things they see. It’s worth the investment of your time, and it’s really not as hard as you may think.
And there you have it! None of these are magic keys to a new job, but if you utilize all of them, you’re definitely going to increase your chances of meeting your goals.
Let me know if I missed any great tips that have helped you. And happy hunting!
An interview is essential not just for the employer, but for you, the candidate. Just because you may be in need of a job doesn’t mean every open position is right for you. The interview process is your opportunity to find out if a position at a particular company makes sense for you and your career goals.
The key to finding the right career fit is to ask intelligent questions that require the interviewer to provide you with more information than you can find in the job description or on their company website.
Just as Forbes.com cites that there are only three real questions that matter to recruiters and interviewers, I believe that there are only three real questions that matter to the person being interviewed. Here are three essential questions every Made Woman should ask when she’s in the hot seat:
When preparing for an interview, plan on asking these three questions (or something similar, depending on what’s most important to you!) of the interviewer. The most surefire way to land your dream job is to interview the employer as they go through the process of interviewing you. So think up those need-to-knows, relax during the interview and dazzle the employer with thoughtful, savvy questions.
"How do you know that it’s your purpose? It feels like you’re supposed to be there… you feel most like yourself." -Oprah
You’re a Made Woman. You’ve got the perfect career, a great set of friends and an impressive social calendar. You know what you want and how to get it. You’ve got it all together, right?
Or maybe not… Maybe you’ve been working in a career that makes you feel lukewarm or you have an idea of what you want to do but are not sure how to get there. You’re feeling a little underwhelmed and, dare I say it, stuck. You’ve done all of the things you’re supposed to do – go to school, get a good job, buy a nice car – but you still feel like something is missing. You’re living a great life, but maybe you feel like you’re living someone else’s life.
I’ve been there.
I’m a firm believer that we all have unique talents and strengths to bring to the world. We have specific passions that totally light up our worlds. But all too often we shove those passions deep down inside and venture out on careers and lives that are less than fulfilling.
What makes finding your passion so tough is that it doesn’t always fully reveal itself to you. Your passion may come to you in glimpses. A feeling of contentment as you stroke a paint brush across a canvas. That wave of calm that washes over you when you help someone understand a complex problem. The feeling of complete you-ness as you rally your peers to a cause. I call these glimpses your “times of ecstatic engagement.” Those times in your life that reflect your very best, the very happiest you when you feel most peaceful and like yourself. It’s truly amazing when it hits you.
The first important question to ask yourself when on the hunt for your passion is: When was the last time I felt most alive?
Think back on your life. When was the last time you felt like your most turned-on, alive self? What were you doing during that moment? Is there a way for you to manifest that feeling in your everyday life?
Here are four more important questions to ask yourself in order to start digging deeper into what makes you tick.
1. What do you want your life to stand for? When you’re 95 years old and looking back on your long life, what would you be most proud that you accomplished?
2. What are your core values? We all have values that are unshakable. They are our absolute deal breakers. For example, freedom, fulfillment, and creativity are extremely important to me. If those things are not present in an opportunity, I don’t even consider it.
3. What would you do if you could not fail? Imagine money, time and resources are not a concern. You will absolutely succeed at what you set out to do. What would it be?
4. What are you ah-mazing at? We are all incredible at something. What do you bring to the table? What do people thank you for the most?
Thinking through these five questions will give you a good glimpse into the life you want to create for yourself. You now have a list of possibilities of what truly drives you. You’ve probably noticed some reoccurring themes or ideas on your list. Take the time to narrow your list down and start thinking about how you can start creating your most ideal life.
Lastly, you’ll also want to pinpoint the situations that don’t light you up. If you are stuck in a situation that is just not you, study it. Figure out precisely what is making you uncomfortable. Sit with that discomfort until you can clearly articulate what is causing you to feel that way. Knowing what rubs you the wrong way will help immeasurably on your journey to discover your passion. It is just as important to know what you hate as it is to know what you absolutely love.
Don’t focus on not having it all figured out just yet. The most important thing is that you’re taking the steps to get there. And that’s what makes you a Made Woman in my book.
This article was part of our series "30 Days of Made: Love Yourself". Each day we released updates of videos, poetry, images, and original content, all based on the theme of loving yourself. Click the link to read more! !
Ahhhh, the Juris Doctorate degree. So prestigious, so desired. Maybe you have dreamed of getting that degree since you were a child. Maybe you are considering law school because of the potential earnings. At a good firm, (in which you will be working most of your life) you stand to make 6 figures. You can buy all the things you dreamed of having, pay off some loans and you get to be the person in the cocktail party that says, “I’m an attorney”. But, what you may not know is that the law school landscape is rapidly changing and becoming what many in the legal field are calling “oversaturated”. In the New York Times’ article, Is Law School A Losing Game? they discuss the declining number of legal firms, inflated projections of post-graduate salaries, and even went as far to say that the “Juris Doctorate degree is the new B.A”. Ouch. Whatever reasons you have, law school is not for everyone who applies, and dare I say it: not for everyone who is fortunate enough to be accepted into a law school.
As someone who went through the dreaded 1L year (1L=first year of law school), I saw plenty of people leave after their first year: I was one of them. After graduating USC faster than expected (3 ½ years), I was like most college graduates: No job, broke, and up to my neck in school loan debt. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with myself. Then I had an epiphany: Apply to law school. I thought, “I like to argue, and hey, what else am I going to do?” So, I began the process of applying and to my surprise: I was accepted to a pretty decent law school.
Everything isn’t for everyone, and law school is no exception. Even for the most intelligent, most dedicated person, law school is by no means “easy”. It’s the type of professional program that commands every single moment of your life for 3 years. From studying, to networking, to reading, to writing and reading some more--law school becomes your life. If you are not comfortable with the idea of law school becoming your main priority for 3 years, law school is not for you. During your first year of law school, your schedule is handed to you. You are literally being told what to do and when to do it for at least one year.
Above all other things, law school really is not for the person who has unfulfilled dreams outside of law. When a person comes to law school with unfulfilled dreams, the result can be devastating to a person’s spirit. It is such an isolating experience and if a person is not fully invested law school and committed to practicing law, their mind can drift to the “what ifs” of life. Law school is not a supportive environment when one lacks focus; in fact, the environment can become downright hostile.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably picked up some kind of self-help book and read about other people “finding themselves” and “the journey”. I can say one thing for sure: everyone’s journey is different. We all would love to have some money in the bank, but from personal experience, being a Made Woman is about doing what you love. If you love law and are prepared for the task at hand, DO IT. If you don’t, it is okay to say hey, this isn’t for me. Have faith that the money will come even if you don’t cart a briefcase to court. Find a path that is uniquely your own and you will be so fulfilled that money will just be the icing on the cake: not the only reward for all of your hard work.
When I met up with Lisa Marie Todd at her West LA jewelry studio, I thought I’d be sitting down with a former In Living Color fly girl turned jewelry designer. How cool to sit down with someone I grew up watching on one of the most iconic shows of our time? What I didn’t know was that I’d be interviewing a true business mogul. In addition to her Marie Todd jewelry line, she has multiple real estate ventures in the works, a production company and Marie Todd candle lines. And she even has plans to expand the Marie Todd brand to include fragrance and body product lines. I’m still trying to figure out when this woman sleeps!
With her insane schedule, you would think I’d have to rush through a short list of pre-approved questions, or be squeezed into a short window of time. On the contrary. Our conversation felt more like a (#Made) big sister putting her little sis up on game. I learned a lot from our chat and I hope you do too:
Lindsey Day: Tell me a bit about your background.
Lisa Marie Todd: I was born in Palo Alto. I went to the University of Santa Clara. Then I moved down here and had a number of jobs [laughs]. My major was Communications. So I came down here and worked at a television production company for a while, worked at an ad agency. And then ran into a friend in San Francisco who used to be my dance partner and he says, “Why aren't you performing anymore?” I said, "oh, I'm working and doing this...." and he said, “no. you need to get back into it.” So I got back into it and started working, and started doing commercials, started doing some acting, and then In Living Color came along.
LD: How long were you with In Living Color?
LMT: From the pilot through two seasons, so a good two years and change. That was a great experience.
LD: You worked with J. Lo? I’m sure people ask all the time....
LMT: I worked with Jennifer, she was wonderful. It was an interesting time, because the sketch comedy was amazing. Keenan was amazing. And it still holds up. I don't think we knew what we were a part of when we were doing it, because I kind of went to work and went home, but it's kinda cool to look back at it. It was a great experience.
LD: How did you go from that to making jewelry?
LMT: I was looking for something to do that was creative, and I had always worked with my hands. I picked up a book one day on jewelry-making and I’m going through it and I’m like God, that's really cool, so I found a class. And it just became a passion, and a passion turned into a hobby, and a hobby turned into a business and so, that's where I am now.
LMT: Yeah, I just had a passion for it, and I felt that my daughter [who is now 15 ½] was at a certain age and I could push it. And there had been experiences in my life that...I’ll say “great losses,” that--you realize if you want to do something you'd better do it, because you may not be here anymore. And so, that really put a fire underneath me. And seriously, like 2009 I just said listen, if I'm going to do it let me do it.
LD: That’s something I think a lot of readers can relate to, including myself!
LMT: That period between 26 and 28 is reevaluation time. And you'll start weeding people out and you'll start...feeling what you really want and what you don't want. We usually know what we don't want, but we don't always know what we want. I completely remember that. It happens again, I hate to tell you [laughs], but it's better, because you have a bit more perspective.
LD: What inspires you and your design?
LMT: I find inspiration in everything. I'll literally walk around with my iPhone and see a shadow and go, I may do something with that!
LD: What type of woman is Marie Todd Jewelry made for?
LMT: She's a modern woman, independent, strong. She has a strong sense of herself. I try to start with a big picture--some women don't like big jewelry, maybe big things overwhelm them. Other women want to be seen when they walk in a room. I take one design and mold it. Sometimes we have moods. You may want to be quiet, and you just want that little earring, or necklace, that little touch. Sometimes you’re going out and you want to make a statement. So I keep all of those things in mind.
LD: I’d imagine that it’d be challenging to learn the ins and outs of the jewelry business.
LMT: I'm learning as I go and it's a great journey. I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of people along the way who have been in the business and want to give information. There are a lot of people who have directed me: "you need this, go see this person, do that, go call this person." Early on I worked with a woman from Thailand and I said to her, “gosh, it's so refreshing to meet somebody that wants to tell someone something and isn't scared you're going to go off and steal their ideas or something.” And she said, “what you make, someone else will like and they won't like my stuff--and vice versa. The way I look at it, there's food for all.” And that always stuck with me; that we're our own competition. We should look at what other people are doing just to know what the market is, but it's us against us. Yourself against yourself. Even now, if I can help somebody or guide them, I do.
LMT: I certainly think my jewelry is modern and timeless, and something you can put away and come back to--you want those kind of pieces. I think it's affordable. It's not super inexpensive but it's not outrageous, so most people can afford to have it. I like that. I get sometimes that people say it looks more expensive than what it costs, which is good; the value of it. So I would say those things are huge selling points. And there's a lot of love that goes into it, and energy.
LD: What’s your favorite piece and why?
LMT: I love the Paisley collection. I remember designing it, and it's kind of Indian, kind of Moroccan. I wear those a lot. It just feels good. It was fun when i was playing around and designing it, and people tend to gravitate to it. And it's different, you know, it has many influences and I love all that. At heart I'm kind of a hippie chick [laughs], being from the San Francisco Bay area.
LD: Tell me more about your candle line.
LMT: I started off with one candle, but since then I’ve created eight fragrances, and I have a men’s candle line that's coming which is really fun. There are three of the original scents that men just loved and I was like, "hmm, men need candles too.” I want a woman to buy it for a man to share it with him. And I want men to buy it because he wants that ambiance for his woman. They’re very masculine--there's nothing floral or anything about them. They've got some punch to them without being offensive. That's my thing: when people smell them I say okay, do ANY of these fragrances offend you. And I have yet to have anybody say yes [laughs].
LD: Busy woman. What else do you have in the works??
LMT: Ultimately, [Marie Todd] is going to be a lifestyle brand, so I’m trying to create products that I love personally, that I want to share. So, I love candles. I love lotions and potions so I'm working on a fragrance and body product line right now. So I’m taking baby steps. I'm not making a ton of it, but baby steps to build the awareness, and I'm blessed that I can do all this stuff.
LD: Is Marie Todd your first entrepreneurial venture?
LMT: No, I have real estate things I do, I have a production company now that we did a pilot with, so that's another area that's bubbling right now. There's a film I'm working on now that I had a meeting about, it's based on a short story. It might be controversial but, oh well. I just feel like why not. If there are things you want to do and try, try them. If it doesn't work you can try it a different way but at least you tried doing it.
LD: What is your business philosophy?
LMT: A. being flexible. you have to be flexible because stuff isn't always going to work out. I've learned how to think on my feet, and if something's not working I'm not the type of person to go well that's so and so's fault or to stay on that. It's about, “how do we fix it?” Nothing irritates me more than someone saying, “well, he did that!” I’’m just like, “I don't hear you, I don't care--fix it.” Then, after the fact if you want to go talk to them about it then go ahead. Let's fix it and move on. We can't stay there.
Also, making time for yourself and your family and the business, finding that balance. It's a struggle. I have a teenage daughter and this is probably the time she needs me more than anything else these next few years. Not that she didn't need me before, but it's different now. And I'm just very aware of that and I enjoy spending my time with her. And if I'm working here and it's getting overwhelming, I'll go walk and I’ll see a cute dog or something. You know, you just trick your mind out of what's going on and you do come back better. Taking that 10, 15 minutes to get out of your head is important.
LD: What advice do you have for young up-and-coming women on pursuing their dreams?
LMT: Research what you're doing before you do it. Don't just jump in. If you can work in the industry, fine. If not, who cares? I didn't work in jewelry before but I think certainly researching and talking to people. At the gut level if you think you should be doing it or you should try it ,just do it. Don't even think twice. Don't listen to people saying, “Oh, you can't do that, oh the economy's bad.” Go do it. Because you don't know where it's going to take you. And on the journey you may think you're going from a to b but it goes a, z, p...[laughs], back and forth. Maybe you start off thinking that's what you're going to do but you meet something or someone or see something.... Just know you'll end up where you're supposed to be. So just start. Don't sit back and wish and hope. Wishing and hoping doesn't make anything happen. Just start. Just go. See what happens. Because it's a fun journey, I gotta tell ya.
Imagine your favorite boss sitting you down in her office, leaning over her desk, and giving it to you straight. This is what reading Basic Back: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life) felt like. Former head of Hearst magazines, Cathie Black, shares personal anecdotes, thoughtful analyses and priceless advice. And what better woman is there to take advice from? Not only is Cathie Black married and a mother of two, but she was also the first female publisher of a weekly consumer magazine, has been a president and CEO, and has helped launch the O, the Oprah Magazine... all while practicing philanthropy.
This book doesn’t just revel in Cathie’s many accomplishments or tell her life story. Instead, it focuses on detailing her career, from her time working in ad sales, to working with Gloria Steinem, to eventually winding up at Hearst; with tales of her hard work, wins, and losses in between. With case studies and chapters covering everything from leadership, fear, risk, and the future of women in business, Cathie helps us realize our goals in the professional world while reminding us that a truly fulfilling life is the 360 degree life (an all-encompassing one).
As someone who usually enjoys fiction or creative nonfiction, this business-oriented, advice-giving read was one I surprisingly couldn’t put down. Just like we all need black basics in our closet, we need this book in our collection. So many of the pointers it includes will stay with me for the entirety of my career--I even keep it in my desk at work. Every time I look up from a marked page, I feel empowered and more motivated than ever before. Cathie reminds us that success is out there for the taking, and no matter who you are or where you come from, it can be yours -- so long as you’re willing to earn it. Thanks Cathie, for setting the bar high and giving it to us straight!
Read an excerpt of Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life) here!
You never know, this may be the year that you land that once-in-a-lifetime job you’ve been waiting on for far too long! So, are you prepared to get that call from a top company that wants to add you to their employment roster? Would you know how to dress-to-impress for the interview or how to best answer an interviewer's questions so that you stand out amongst the competition? As a Talent Acquisition Manager (a swanky title for Recruiter) at one of the leading entertainment companies in the world, I want you to do your best during an interview so that you can sign that coveted offer letter and secure the job of your dreams. Here are a few tips that are sure to increase your chances of sealing the deal:
Girlfriend, those stilettos, jeggings, noisy charm bracelets and dangling earrings might have looked fabulous at the Summer Soiree, but be sure to leave them in your closet for the next night out on the town. For an interview, you want to have a basic, conservative look--the less flagrant distractions, the better. An interviewer should be more attracted to your bright eyes, welcoming smile and confident persona than to your wardrobe.
Please avoid looking at your resume and reading from it during your interview. The first step to impressing the interviewer is to know on-demand all of your experience. You shouldn't have to glance at the paper in front of you to explain the depth of your professional fabulousness.
Never speak negatively about your current or previous employer. It's just like going on a blind date--the last thing that your date wants to hear is all about the disastrous last relationship that temporarily drove you insane.
We have all had that interview where you really vibe and connect with the interviewer. Remember, even if you establish a commonality to break the ice, he or she is not your friend and you are still in the hot seat. You want a job from this person, so always maintain a high level of respect and professionalism.
Be able to recognize the job that you are ready for today. Sure, your mama thinks that you are the smartest person in the world, but landing the right job has less to do with smarts and more to do with progressive experience. True, you may have what it takes to learn the VP level job, but the current skillset on your resume reflects that you are assistant level. While it is great that you are ambitious and trainable, an employer is looking to hire someone who requires the least amount of training and is experienced enough to walk onto the job and do it. Don't be discouraged; instead, get in on the level for which you currently qualify, put your best foot forward and rock it straight to the top, girl! A good boss will recognize your potential, and if you're patient and demonstrate a tremendous work ethic, growth opportunities are inevitable.
In this economy, getting a job is not an easy task. Still, when an opportunity does come knocking, if you abide by these tips, you will be better prepared to seize it. Here's to a brand new outlook and to landing that brand new gig!
They are out there. Prowling the job boards. Stalking Monster.com. Attacking any job opening they see. They are job hunters, and they need all the help they can get. That's why we decided to make our very first "30 Days of Made" a Career Edition. We want to give those hopeful hunters out there an edge in their search.
We also made this week's issue an essential how-to guide for snagging the perfect job. From an HR specialist's pointers on beefing up your resume, acing the interview and secrets to breaking into the beauty industry to daily job search tips on Facebook and Twitter--we have you covered. Plus, check out our interview with the newly appointed FOX News affiliate reporter Maya Holmes and get insight into what it takes to get a job in this economy.
Don't get depressed on your job hunt. We know searching for jobs can get tiresome. But we are in this together. The hunt is on.
Made Woman Magazine
In previous months, our “Made Woman of the Month” picks have spotlighted established entrepreneurs--women who have come up over time and made their mark in their industry. But what about those of us who are just starting? Shouldn’t the new chicks on the block get some recognition? We think so! This month, we decided to put out a call for a MW who had recently received a promotion or job offer. After searching high and low, we chose a young lady with a great story.
This month our “Made Woman of the Month” is… Maya Holmes! This 25 year old Sacramento native recently secured a job at FOX 21 News at KQDS-TV. In fact, she has only been working there a week. We wanted to honor her achievement and highlight a young woman taking the next step in her career. Congrats Maya!
Maya is working for FOX 21 News as an On Air General Assignment Reporter. She works with a news team, reporting on everything from an Applefest to the mayor creating jobs. She reports live from the studio and on location in front of thousands of people and works under tight deadlines. Maya says that she loves her job and has “learned more in one week at the news station than [she] did in four years of college.” Gotta love that on-the-job training. Maya is not only #winning, she is also pretty fearless - having left her home, family, and friends in sunny California for Duluth, Minnesota. She didn’t let starting over in a new place stop her from nabbing her dream job. Her success is owed to her vision, persistence, and drive. Maya says “I have always felt my destiny was to be an On-Air Reporter. It feels really good and unreal at the same time.” I’m sure being on your momma’s DVR will have that effect.
Maya’s success is even more noteworthy in light of the depressed (and depressing) job market in the U.S. With lay-offs, unemployment and cutbacks, most “career paths” are starting to look like battlefields. According to Maya, securing her new job wasn’t easy. She says that she was “actively and faithfully applying for three and a half months.” Before this position with FOX, she was freelancing. To get the reporter job Maya sent in her cover letter, resume, and reel to Fox. She then had an over the phone interview. The process may have been intense, but Maya offers these words of wisdom to other job hunters: “I think consistency is key. Treat a job hunt like it’s a job. Get up early and apply every single day to as many places as you can. It’s exhausting, hard, frustrating and all other types of ugly feelings, but it’s necessary and will pay off big time.” Job seekers and up-and-comers hunting for their dream job should gain hope from Maya’s story. Much can be achieved by just going for it. Maya knows this make-it-happen attitude is what has helped her in the past. She says “if you want a particular position, go for it! Who cares if you're not “qualified” (but be realistic). For some employers it's more about character, chemistry and determination than just experience.”
It hard out there for everyone right now looking for a job. Even Made Women. But when you see one of us, like Maya, take those oh, so important steps toward the future they always envisioned for themselves, you must believe her win is your win. So whether you are on your 20th day of job hunting or your second year, remember this:
“Don't fret, obsess and assassinate your character or experience over jobs you don't get. If the job was for you, you would have gotten it. There were some jobs I really wanted and did not get. When time passes, you look back and realize working there would have been a big mistake and the path you're on now is where you need to be. “- Maya Holmes, FOX 21 Reporter, and Made Woman.
Since the 2008 market crash, you have stepped up to the plate to become a star employee. You come in early, solve problems and have taken on the work of co-workers lost to the recession. You don’t just stay late; you stay until the job gets done. Despite this dedication, you’re tired of working two jobs for the price of one. Well, with the economy showing signs of recovery (the U.S. created 244,000 jobs in April—the largest jump since 2006) you may not have to. If you think you deserve a raise -- and you probably do – then these are the steps you need to take to evaluate your performance and get the money you have earned.
The first thing you need to do is a self-assessment. Look at your work and determine how much progress you have made over the past year. Did you meet deadlines and expectations? Did you show initiative and go out of your way to contribute to the success of the company? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you have every right to ask for a raise.
A good time to ask for a raise or promotion is during annual employee evaluations. Most large companies hold them every year to assess employee productivity and it is an ideal time to highlight your achievements. Your performance is already the topic of discussion, so make the most of it. If your company doesn’t have reviews, simply request a conversation with your manager about salary. Go into the meeting prepared to prove why you deserve what you are asking for and use numbers to support your argument. For example, I work in the PR industry so I might say, “I saved the company $10,000 by implementing a more efficient way to complete share of voice reports,” or “I secured 50 media placements in top national publications.” Remember, managers are overworked too and may have forgotten all the hard work you have done. They want to keep their best employees, so reminding them of what you’re worth will be appreciated.
Regardless of your industry, find ways to show that you are the best at what you do and that you are an asset to your company. A great way to show your value is to create a brag book, which is a portfolio of all your best work. Get in the habit of documenting your success. When it is time to ask for a raise, you will be able to prove your worth. A brag book is also a great self-marketing tool for future job searches.
Finally, be flexible. Your boss may agree that you deserve a raise, but the company just cannot afford it. Show your commitment to the health of the business by offering alternatives you will accept instead of a traditional raise. Maybe you would love a more open schedule that includes telecommuting two days a week, or a half day so you can catch up on errands. Perhaps you will be happy with a partial pay raise and a new title that reflects the responsibilities you have assumed. Some firms might even offer incentive bonuses for finishing projects ahead of schedule or saving the company money. You have plenty of choices besides a traditional raise, so research your options and go after what you want.
If you don’t get everything you want, ask what you can do in the next six months to make the conversation successful the next time. This lets the boss know you're serious and that you're willing to improve to get this raise. When the time comes to reward great employees, your name will be at the top of the list. If you know that you deserve a better salary…ask and you shall receive.