I asked five business leaders, what are your best tips for people to create and seize more opportunities at work. Here is the feedback, and thanks to all who contributed.
1. How to Get a 10% Payrise
If you do not feel you are getting the love, recognition, or opportunities you desire in your current company, the choice is simple, apply for a job externally.
A study by the Guardian newspaper revealed that simply changing jobs for a similar position in another company yielded in 2018 an average 10% pay increase.
Add the pay increase to the fact that you will be unlocking more career progression opportunities, and you have a good decision.
2. Prove Your Value At Work
John Showalter Founder: TightFistFinance
I had survived six rounds of layoffs at my company, and the seventh round was coming. Management warned us, the seventh round was going to be brutal. People began to worry, and it became obvious, not many people had ever planned that they might one day find themselves jobless. I was prepared with a fully-funded emergency fund and could live off my savings, but I would have preferred not to dip into my savings.
Finally, the dreaded day came. One hour before layoffs began, a high-level manager pulled me into an office and offered me a new position within the company, safe from layoffs. I took it without hesitation. I would later find out my direct management line was fighting to save me amongst the chaos. The following hours were tough. A conference room was set up near my cubicle, where they handed out layoff notices. For the next three hours, the room was a revolving door. We lost half our group in a matter of hours.
So how did I position myself, so my management fought to save me?
- Be a workhorse – Companies love it when you produce more work than your peers, and it’s not difficult to do. Most employees are stuck on Facebook and not working at work. Do your job, limit distractions, and stay focused on delivering your primary work tasks.
- Be knowledgeable – Companies like it when you know your job, and you do it well. No one wants to pay a lawyer to research the law; they would rather have the lawyer already know the law. The more you know, the faster you can accomplish your primary work tasks, saving the company money.
- Make your boss’s life easier – your boss is directly responsible for your pay increases. In my case, he tipped off upper management that I might be on the layoff list because he liked me and the work I performed for him. I always made his life easier and gave him numerous victories. This was his way of repaying me for making him look good throughout the years.
- Become invaluable – The more skills you acquire, the more valuable you become to your company. If you are the only person at your company who knows how to use specific software, you are more valuable. What happens if you leave? The company is going to struggle and waste time waiting for someone else to learn it.
- Take on the hard tasks – No one wants to do hard work at work, but pulling through on a tough project makes you look like a hero. Simply taking on the hardest tasks at work makes your boss’s life easier, shows everyone your a workhorse, and establishes you as someone invaluable. Doing this one thing helps you stand out in so many ways!
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3. Set Killer Career Goals
Ensuring you set clear career goals aligned with your values and philosophy is the key to ensuring you retain the energy and motivation to achieve those goals. Knowing your goals will guide you in the right direction when searching for your opportunities.
How To Set Goals To Reach Opportunities:
- Your goal should be as specific as possible. Instead of “I want to be good at talking to an audience,” set the following career goal: “I want to make a successful 10-15-minute presentation to an audience of at least 50 people.
- Determine how you will measure success. What skills will you develop? What work experience do you need? What certifications do you require?
- Is the Goal is Achievable with the Current Plan? What will you need to commit in terms of time and money to make it happen?
- Set the start and end date for achieving it. Setting deadlines for each career goal is crucial for your motivation and for achieving the desired result.
4. Put Yourself Out There
Yaniv Masjedi, Chief Marketing Officer at Nextiva
You need to put yourself out there if you see an opportunity worth seizing. When I was working to support my college education, I decided to take a leap of faith. The company I was working for was opening up a marketing position while I was working in sales. I asked the company’s executives if they would consider me, an undergraduate student with zero marketing background.
Now, they didn’t have to accept me. But, I didn’t have to ask and lobby for myself, either.
When you see an opportunity, you need to take the risk of stepping up to the plate. That’s what I did – and 15 years later, I’m the proud CMO and Co-Founder of a 1,000+ team member organization that spans multiple continents.
Of course, it took a lot of hard work and dedication in between – but I attribute much of my success back to that initial decision to jump at an opportunity that excited me.
5. Tell Your Boss You Want A Promotion
Now, this is not the same as asking your boss for a promotion. Informing your boss that you are interested in future career progression is the key here. You are not asking for a specific promotion or position. You are letting them know that you do want to progress and grow within this team or company.
Do this before any job openings occur and give yourself time to get in shape for the step up and for your boss to see you in action before a new job opens up. Ask your boss what he thinks it takes to move up the ladder and what you can do to achieve it. Simply letting your boss know that you would like to progress will get you noticed and open up potential new opportunities.
6. 3 Tips from an Attorney for Creating Work and Life Opportunities
Lance J. Robinson is a practicing criminal defense lawyer in New Orleans with over 22 years of experience.
As a criminal defense attorney and owner of my own law firm for over 20 years, I’ve learned a lot about creating opportunities for myself. Here are a few of my favorite tips:
- Have a clear set of goals. Knowing what you want to accomplish is the first step to finding the right opportunities to meet those goals. Always have 1-year, 5-year, and 10-year plans for your career (or even your personal life) to keep you on track.
- Take calculated risks. Creating an opportunity for yourself usually involves taking a risk. Be open to risk, but only after you’ve done your research. I had several great jobs after law school, but I wanted to take a risk and start my own firm. Once I had a plan in place, I was better positioned to create the opportunities I sought with my own business.
- Keep with the times. If I could give my younger self a piece of advice, I’d tell him to take technology and the Internet more seriously. Making sure you’re aware of trends and changes in the world will increase your awareness of new opportunities.
7. Speak to Strangers at Work
Even in the corporate office’s closed and secure environment, most people do not even know each other. Most people, in fact, only know their direct teams and a few other people they have had meetings with. What would happen if you set a challenge for yourself to speak to and introduce yourself to one new person at work every day?
By the end of the year, you would know over 250 new people outside your team. That would make you the king of networking at the office and incredibly increase your sphere of influence.
Imagine the opportunities that would unlock. Don’t forget, though, after the interaction, write down their name and describe them, so you have at least some chance of recalling them in the future.
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8. Rock Your Meetings
One of my best corporate opportunities came after delivering a solid presentation at a global corporate strategy face-to-face meeting. I was quite junior compared to the collection of Vice Presidents and Directors at the meeting.
Three months later, I received a call from one of the attendees of that meeting, with whom I had built a good rapport, and he offered me a big promotion and pay rise.
He told me directly it was because he had met me in that meeting and liked what I was doing.
9. Build Momentum
Stacy Caprio. Founder: Growth Marketing
My best tip on creating work and life opportunities is to create your own small to as big as you want success and momentum first. You’ll find as you start having small wins, you’ll automatically start attracting more opportunities in that area. You can even compound the number of opportunities you attract for business opportunities by going on podcasts, video & magazine interviews, and for personal, you can post small wins on your personal social media accounts to amplify opportunities and results there.
10. Ask Your Boss How You Can Improve
If you plan this well in advance, you can gather input from your manager about what they think it takes to get promoted to the job you want. A good opportunity is in your yearly performance review or any talent planning activities that occur. Ultimately this is precious information as it will probably be your boss that awards you that promotion.
11. Get A Promotion Without Having To Ask
If you have to ask for a promotion, it’s already too late; you need to be a natural choice.
There are four critical factors in getting promoted:
- Deliver on your goals consistently.
- Deliver your goals on time.
- Deliver your goals in the right way with professionalism & integrity.
- You are already a natural choice.
[Related Article: Get Promoted At Work Without Asking]
12. Be A Natural Leader
You do not need an official invitation to be a leader; you can take the lead on many activities without encroaching on your manager’s authority or creating resentment with your teammates.
- Offer to stand-in for your boss during vacations.
- Organize work events and get-togethers.
- Volunteer to represent your team to other teams and organizations
- Offer to lead team meetings.
- Be a thought leader by planning ahead and researching specific topics of interest to the team or group objectives.
These actions will get you noticed and unlock future opportunities.
[Related Article: The 11 Critical Traits of a Great People Manager]
13. Introduce Yourself At The Watercooler
Try this, the next time you drop by the watercooler for a refreshing drink, introduce yourself to the next person that comes along. Do this often enough, and you will know everyone in the company, now that is a good network.
14. Join Company Sports Clubs
A great place to meet new people is at corporate sports clubs and sporting events. Any significant size company will usually have a running club, tennis club, or at least a company gym. Attend these clubs, and over time you will get to know everyone there. And if your company is hosting charity events, take part.
15. Hang With The Smokers or The Drinkers
How if you enjoy smoking and drinking, then you will probably know this secret. Hanging with the smokers on their smoke break is literally one of the great ways to meet people. Smokers are a marginalized minority, and what do with know about minorities, they stick together, and they talk.
Now drinkers love a good chat and a laugh; if you go out for a party night with a bunch of drinkers, you are guaranteed to have the start of some good buddy relationships.
16. Works Functions Are The Best Networking Opportunities.
You should always attend work functions, such as parties, celebrations, and sales kick-offs. If there is a leaving party for someone, you should be there. There is no better way to meet people and deepen relationships than over drinks with colleagues. Alcohol lowers inhibitions, and you will find you can discuss things with your boss or new acquaintances that you could never broach in the office.