By Terry Corbell
The Biz Coach
Strategies to Advance into Management
Dear Terry, I’m stuck in a low-paying job after not being able to able to sustain my employment after getting a student loan for which I’m paying over $180 per month. Your articles on student loans were helpful. I was recently honored to be asked by upper management to apply for a better paying job in my company but they hired someone else instead. I really feel hurt and disillusioned.
Please accept my condolences about your company. Your employer doesn’t sound like a best-management practices company.
It might not seem like it now, but this is an opportunity for growth.
Yes, for career advice, you have some options:
Start reading inspirational books.
Mount a campaign to market yourself inside your company.
Market yourself externally. Go all out to find a better employer.
Continue to read books, especially about subjects you enjoy for personal growth. Such footwork will energize you
Learn how to sell yourself with the top 11 tips for a great elevator pitch.
You might also become skilled in dealing with an oppressive employer.
Personal case study
Many years ago when struggling to accelerate my salary, I bought a paperback, “Moving Up: How to Get High-Salaried Jobs,” by Eli Djeddah. The 1971 book is out of print but it had timeless strategies and I’m sure copies are available online.
That includes techniques in one-to-one communications with bosses. Early in my career during a recession, I set a sales record for a nationwide company with dozens of nationwide locations and so my employer gave me a promotion without a small raise.
As a result of reading Mr. Djeddah’s book, here’s what I did to earn more money within my company:
I looked for a problem that was marginally outside my realm of responsibilities that also needed to be solved for the overall welfare of the company. Once I solved it, I waited a couple of weeks and reported to my boss: “I thought you’d like to know what I did about a problem to increase efficiency and increase profit.”
Two weeks later, I identified another problem to solve and went through the same process. A month later, my employer began to smile at me more.
It was time to go for the jugular – a raise. I asked my boss for an appointment. When the boss asked why I wanted to meet, I said it had to do with “concerns about my career.” Much to my surprise, my supervisor wanted to see me right away. I drove to his office. As I sat down and before I said anything, he offered me a raise. But the raise was much less than what I felt I deserved. I didn’t complain, whine or point fingers at my boss. Instead, I calmly looked at the floor.
After about 10 seconds, my boss got the idea and said: “Okay, okay. I’ll review the budget. Let’s talk after lunch.”
When I returned from lunch, my boss upped the ante. That was my first lesson in detachment sales. (Later, I would develop more strategies on asking the boss for a pay raise.)
Putting out feelers
It appears your company has weak management. So also putting out feelers might be productive. Sometimes a lateral move works well to another company, if you sense ample opportunities for advancement.
Here’s what I’d suggest:
Analyze your weaknesses and strengths. Determine what you’d really like to do. Set some goals, work daily on self improvement and hone your self-marketing skills.
What about your Internet presence? Social networking is fine but you should be listed prominently online, such as a professional in your field, chamber of commerce membership and as a community service enthusiast.
If you’ve been forced to work at a lot of jobs, dilute your resume’s focus on dates. Most people illogically put the date at the start of each job listing. You don’t want the dates to be the reader’s first focus. List the date at the lower right following each job description paragraph.
If you bounced around to different industries, don’t list your jobs chronologically if it will hurt your chances. Such dates are almost immaterial. Later, you’ll be filling out an application chronologically with exact dates, so make sure your first impression, your resume, is the most-positive.
Be sure to write about the results of your work. Use third-person phrases, such as: “Jane worked her way up from…” Quantify your successes in dollars.
Focus on the acronym, WIIFM. Employers will be asking themselves, “What’s in it for me?” Answer their questions in advance on your resume.
Unless you’re a baby boomer with a long work history, I’m an advocate of one-page resumes. Don’t mention the the phrase, “references provided upon request.” Let interviewers ask for references. Realistically, boomers should emphasize their experience but not their age.
Send a well-written thank you note to interviewers after every meeting. Cite specific examples of what you enjoyed about the meeting. Include a benefit statement on why you should be hired. Thank them for their consideration. Citing their concerns about the job, prevent buyer’s remorse by reminding them that you’re the person who will provide the value they seek.
Network with others. If you don’t have a network, start one.
Here’s what I did: I contacted successful people via mail and followed up with a phone call to ask to meet with them briefly to get their advice on my career. I contacted people two levels above the job I wanted. They weren’t threatened by me. But people just above my level – sometimes they are insecure as supervisors – perceived me as threat. At the end of each meeting I would ask for the names of two other people with whom I might also discuss my career. Sometimes the process led to job offers.
Even in this era of casual dress, remember to dress for management success. If a company is rigidly into casual dress, you might not want to work for them. Many executives are complaining that workers don’t perform well when casually dressed. Look ahead. Dress at the level you want to achieve in five years.
Good luck! When you get into management, remember how you were treated this year and set a better example for your employees. When you’re ready, here’s how to get a C-level job.
From the Coach’s Corner, here are more career resource links:
- 7 Tips for a Young Professional to Become a CEO
- Nervous About Your New Boss? Here’s How to Deal with It
“There is an enormous number of managers who have retired on the job.”
- Peter Drucker
Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.