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Simple Steps to Ask for the Job you Want

As a growing professional, I am always interested in learning how and why others I work with or admire landed the roles or career paths they are currently in. I ask a lot of questions, I apply for a lot of opportunities, sometimes I land the job, other times I do not, but all of it is a learning experience. I have loved some of the positions I have been fortunate enough to have and some, I realized, were not the right fit for me, but I appreciate the skills I developed in each role.

I have learned so many valuable tips and tricks by asking individuals who have really taken control of their career. The one thing I have learned that is true is that luck has very little to do with it. The answer is much more black and white than luck or a magic genie. The answer is in seeking appropriate support to attain or create a career which is more parallel to your goal job.

Four consistent things I have noticed about individuals, who are not very happy with their current roles are that they:

  1. Wait for approval, from their supervisor or the hiring manager, to apply for a position. What if that conversation never happens? Putting your life in someone else’s hands is a dangerous decision. They might honestly never put two and two together and also, it is a huge assumption to think that most people are that focused on another person’s career.
  2. Will not apply for a position, unless they meet all the qualifications listed on the job fact sheet.
    • Do you know how many opportunities I have received where I did not meet every qualification of the job? Every job I have had, I have not met every requirement. The job fact sheet for any position is the employer’s wish list; they themselves most often do not expect to receive applications where an individual meets every request.
  3. Typically struggle with impostor syndrome when/if they do get the interview, even if they are the most qualified candidate.
    • If you got an interview, you got an interview! Prepare for it like it is the game of your life. Do not expend any energy wondering why you got the interview. You got the interview! Now take advantage of it, so that no matter what the outcome, you can say you gave your interview your all and did not squander the chance.

The only true thing that has worked for me has been asking for what I want. Asking for what I want has allowed me to receive much more of what I want.

Do you want an interview for that great job opportunity? Take the hiring manager out for coffee and discuss the job with them. Let them know that you are interested and also, allow yourself the opportunity to hear more about the job, to see if it is really what you were hoping for.

Tell the person. It sounds so simple, but with most things in life, the simplest things are the hardest things to do. They are the hardest things to do because they seem too easy, like there should be a catch or a pitfall towards achieving your goal. The pitfall is probably you are not doing everything in your power to try and achieve something you really want.

Learn to make your goals a priority and vocalize them to individuals who can help you achieve said goals because it will be a huge catalyst in a successful career path.

Here are seven simple steps you can follow to take charge of your life and start asking for what you expect/want/deserve, for a better professional future:

  1. Think about what you want and who can help you achieve your goal.
  2. Set up a meeting with people who may be able to assist you.
    • Depending on how well you know them, gauge the appropriate level of meeting place and time. For example, if this is someone you know personally, (i.e. you have texted them or met them for something social before) meeting for lunch is sometimes a relaxing setting for the conversation to be had. If this is someone you do not know at all or very well, meeting them for coffee, but suggesting a couple of dates and times (to accommodate their schedule) is useful. Also, always meet the person on their turf, their office, a coffee shop or restaurant near them, do not make them come to you.
  3. Prepare what you want to discuss with the individual. Actually create a list or bullet points of what you are asking of them. Having something in writing will keep you on track, will ensure you use the time efficiently and can help you if your nerves kick in and you go blank during the meeting.
    • Make sure to come in prepared. Thoroughly read and be up to date on the organization, its mission, and the position’s roles and responsibilities. Getting the meeting is a small fraction of the work required before the meeting. Do not get lazy and go in ill prepared because it will be obvious if you do.
  4. Meet with the individual, but start slowly. Do not just go blasting in with your request; spend five to fifteen minutes making small talk and doing a check-in.
    • See how they are doing and genuinely be interested in their life because they potentially could be the one to help you improve your own.
  5. Let the individual know what you are needing from them. Ask them, straight up, if this is something they would be willing to help you with. Be clear. Be direct. Be confident with what you are asking and do not apologize in any capacity.
    • It can be a really bad habit to be constantly apologizing to the person for taking up their time. You do not have them at gunpoint (I hope), so they willingly chose to meet with you.
  6. Thank them for their time. Do not apologize for taking up their time, but thank them for taking the time to meet with you.
    • No one has made it to where they are without the help or support of somebody. We are all in this together and the more we support each other, the better everyone does. Do not apologize for asking for support, rather congratulate yourself for utilizing your resources appropriately.
  7. Follow up with a thank you or progress update email a day to three days after the meeting.
    • If you ended up applying for the position, let them know! They are a cheerleader in your career efforts and will appreciate being kept in the loop.
    • Do you want them to mentor you and are you hoping for these meetings to become a regular event? Ask for it. Tell them you have gained so much for them and are hoping to see them a few times a year or once a month for check-ins or support. Most people will be honest and sincere about their capacity and, I hope, most would be willing to take an hour for a coffee every once in awhile to support someone else.

This sounds really simple and you might be thinking that you have not learned anything you already did not know, but the one question I have for you is Have you ever actually carried this process out? This is not a magical formula, it is not going to work every single time you use it, but the more you utilize it, the more comfortable you will be with the process and the higher your chances of reaching those goals you aspire to and/or understanding what you need to invest into to attain those goals sooner.

I know that the number one reason why someone would not follow through with these steps is not because they question their validity; the number one reason is fear. It is really, really scary putting yourself out there, in any capacity. It shows vulnerability and some people may see that as a weakness. The one thing I know to be true is the more honest you are and more direct you are, the easier life gets. It is hard to ask for something, but it is even worse not trying and staying in something you do not enjoy.

Do not be afraid to ask for what you want. If you don’t, you only hurt yourself because others will assume you are happy with where you are at or they will not think about your situation at all. If you do not advocate for your own success you are telling the universe that you are not in control of your professional path. The choice is simple: whether you want to be randomly fluttering through your career or in control of the steering wheel.

The Power of One Hour of Self-Care

For most of my life, I truly thought I was above self-care. I really did not see the need for it, and felt that I was beyond it. I thought it was for people who wanted to get to my level of organization and work ethic. I was so very wrong and it took me until my thirty-third year of life to realize how detrimental I had been to myself, by ignoring my basic need of checking in on myself. I assumed because I was getting so much done in a day, that I must have been killing it when it came to self-care, but the only things I was successful at were accomplishments and not personal betterment.  

The issue is that self-care does not equate to how much you accomplish in a day, it has to do with how you feel about yourself, your life, and how you are navigating through your day to day.  

I did not realize that:

  • My anxiety, which kept me up numerous nights a week, was a problem–I thought it was normal.
  • Working for the weekend was not good and needing a huge decompression at the end of the end of the week means that you are probably expecting too much of yourself day to day.  
    • If you spend your Friday night and Saturday day eating take out, watching endless television, drinking wine and sleeping way too much because you are too burnt out to actually do activities that you enjoy, maybe you need to change your Monday to Friday routine.
  • Working, on average, ten hours a day is not normal and the fact that I had guilt on days when I did not work that much was a problem; a problem which could have been fixed by making self-care a daily priority.  

I had a revelation a while ago, when I finally read The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, which my Mom, for years, had been telling me to read. She kept telling me to buy it and after years of me saying I would and not actually carrying out said promise, she sent me a copy and it is arguably the best gift I have ever received.

After reading it, it really made me reflect on my day to day life. I do not think that anyone would challenge me on the fact that I was a hard worker or accomplishing a lot, but I think they would heavily challenge me on my stress levels and how hard I was on myself. I know that friends and family would say that my stress levels were too high and that I had trouble relaxing and removing tasks or duties off my plate. I cannot count the number of social events I have skipped out on because of work or school requirements.

Via making self-care a priority, before I do anything else in my day, I have learnt that:

  1. By creating time, between fifteen minutes to an hour a day for self-care, I take control of my day by starting my day right.
  2. I define clear priorities for my day: academic, professional and personal, but I limit my priorities to three to five per day.
  3. I take time, at the beginning of the day, to ensure that my day will be positive, instead of allowing my day to dictate how I feel, which I know sounds super cheesy, but it really works!

I find that the first hour of my day is now the most important, vital part of my day. I use to pride myself on waking up and starting the day off with a bang! I use to start my day by: doing work, via reading and responding to emails right off the bat, working on school assignments or hitting the gym. It took a bit of a mental fight with myself to actually acknowledge that the first hour of my day could be better utilized by taking care of my mental health before anything else, even before hitting the gym, which I use to label as my all-inclusive self-care.  

After tweaking and working on my self care for quite some time, I can now spell out what works really well for me, but please keep in mind, that this is a very individualistic process:

  • I am an early riser and I truly love it, so I wake up super early on most work days because I am my best and most clear headed early in the day.
  • My first fifteen to twenty minutes of my morning are spent doing a quick clean-up and organization of my house.  This usually entails loading the dishwasher, organizing my living area and doing a quick list of what needs to be done before I head out the door for work.  
    • A lot of people have challenged me on doing this first thing in the morning, but I do so because I enjoy having my downtime in the evening and it is a quick fifteen minute clean up, so it does not take a lot of time and sets my house up for the day.
  • After the clean up, I spend fifteen minutes or so writing in my journal and planning for the day. I know that it might not seem extremely beneficial, but the impacts are really powerful. You would be surprised at how significant it can be to spend this time to write down three things you are grateful for and three priorities for the day. The things you are grateful for really helps put your life in perspective because it forces you to stop and reflect on how much you already have and have accomplished. The three priorities for the day, and try to keep it between three to five things per day, allows you to have clear goals for the day and by writing them down, I find that I am much more susceptible to actually accomplishing them, versus when I do not write them down.  
  • Following journaling, I always spend at least five minutes meditating. I am currently struggling to increase my daily five minutes of meditation to ten minutes a day, but it is a goal of mine, for this month, to get it up to ten minutes a day. Meditation was something that I used to be extremely wary of.  I never really disrespected it, but I always underestimated its value. I truly, truly appreciate the value of daily meditation now and understand its exponential benefits. It is such a powerful feeling to determine how your day will be, rather than diving into it, hoping for the best.
  • Sweat it out. Whether it is fifteen minutes or an hour, I will hit the gym every morning before showering and getting ready for the day. I use to always think that if I did not have at least forty-five minutes to an hour for the gym, it was a waste of time;  I was so wrong. Even if you have ten minutes, get a quick workout in. With YouTube, there is almost no excuse and if not an online video, a few jumping jacks and squats never hurts anyone.

I would be lying if I said this was a seamless transition for me. There are still days where a work deadline or looming assignment for school really challenges me to still keep my first hour for self-care, but I have honestly tried to do at least something. If I only have fifteen minutes, then journaling and meditation are the only things that are getting done, but because I understand their benefits, they feel just as important as an external deadline for me now.  

Perhaps you are not plagued with being a high achiever, maybe your daily struggle is getting out of bed on time, so that you are not late for work, or maybe your struggle is making the time to create a healthy home cooked meal versus ordering takeout, but the goal is the same: making your daily living better.

Focus on something about your day-to-day living which you would like to improve and make that a priority. Get support from who you can. If you are a nighthawk, see if you can get a change to your work schedule and start work later, to make more time in the morning to get things done. If you live with someone, see if there are ways in which you can support each other, by relying on your individual strengths to make your household run smoother.

Do not be afraid to ask for help or adjustments to make your life easier. Usually the fear of asking prohibits us from asking, but as someone who much too often is asking for things that I want, the asking is usually the hardest part. Most people, employers, friends and family are willing to help, with the betterment of you reaching your goals, they just might not know how they can, so let them know the how.

Make yourself a goal and see how your life improves. Self-care is not meant to make your life easier, it is meant to make your life more manageable by making your mental health your top priority. What is something you can do today, to make your day better and make your tomorrow easier?