True story: Recently, at a job search workshop for over 100 MBA soon-to-be-graduates, John introduced himself and told me that “after I graduate, I’m going to walk into my boss’ office and demand a promotion or I’ll leave.” After I withheld the laughter and astonishment, I asked John how long he had been there and what kind of company it was. He disclosed that it was a fast-growth technology company (which he liked), had room for promotion, and he got along well with everybody.
For all the “Johns” out there, at any professional level and within any generation, you need to leave your ego and entitlement at home. Don’t get me wrong. I was one of the most ambitious, career-minded MBAs…and that ambition helped me throughout my 30 year career. But I made mistakes, too.
There are good ways to show your skills, pride, strengths, confidence and fit for a new position either within your current company or outside. And there are really bad ways. The best way to check yourself is to prepare a short term career plan, script the answer to “tell me about yourself” and write down your interview answers RIGHT NOW. Yes, before you even apply to a job. You will be able to hear how you sound when you see it in words. Plus, rehearse with supporters such as friends, parents, career counselors, etc. If John had written out his plan, he would see and hear how words such as “after I graduate” or “demand” sound.
What is magical about the day after you receive your diploma on graduation day? Did you transform into this super-human brainiac? NO! You are the same John who has shown good work ethic, smarts, follow-through and more while you have been working for your company. Will you be able to go out with your freshly-minted MBA and get a better job that pays 10-20% more, gives you management responsibility and “leverages” your new education? Probably not.
So here is your checklist for early preparation. Put the following in writing:
- 1. Your next step career goal. This is not a 5 year plan. In that goal statement include
- 1. Timing
- 2. Function
- 3. Company
- 4. Industry
- 5. City (if other than your own)
- 6. Major difference or change from what you have today
- 2. Write out your answer to “Tell me about yourself.” Hint: 3 points then stop. Dana’s Career “Law of Threes”:
- 1. First sentence is about your education
- 2. Second sentence is about your recent professional career
- 3. Third is what you are looking for, if a change. If no change, elaborate more on your recent year in your career.
- 3. Write out your discussion with your boss, if you are “John”. Circle the number of times you use the word “I” vs. “You”. Circle how many times you talk about all of the skills you <think you> have versus what your company needs for their future or what your boss may need extra help with.
There’s never enough time in these blogs, but my goal is to help you wear the shoes of a hiring manager. In doing so, I will always provide specific best practices to use, not only in your job search as job seekers, but in your career growth long term. Best of luck!