Most professionals share three common goals: a desire to prove ourselves, to add value to our organization, and to climb the corporate ladder. With these aspirations comes an understandable feeling of wanting to take on new opportunities.
Let’s face it: it can be awkward to advocate for yourself and ask for what you are wanting. Just as in personal relationships, you are putting yourself out there and running the risk of being rejected. But if you won’t ask for it, somebody else will!
Here are six tips for asking for new opportunities at work:
Before approaching your boss, make sure you are already armed with a specific ask or idea that you are hoping to take on. The “I’d like more responsibilities please” is uninspiring and vague, and will likely be answered with a “Well, what are you looking for?” Take initiative and be proactive with what you asking for.
Keep in mind: whatever you are asking for should benefit the greater team and organization – not just you. Be sure to emphasize how what you are asking for will positively affect others, rather than just fulfilling your own personal desires.
Finding the appropriate time and environment is just as important as the ask itself. Don’t bombard your manager with your request as they are walking out the door. Properly schedule time with your manager so there are no distractions and they are prepared to speak with you. Not only will this help you in the long-run, but it shows that you are being thoughtful and intentional.
Think about what questions and concerns your manager will have about your ask. Anticipate, anticipate, anticipate! Before your meeting, think about what their concerns may be and draft potential responses. Having succinct, well thought out responses will give your mentor extra confidence that you have really thought everything through.
Don't Be Discouraged By A "No"
Not every pitch will be greeted with a “yes.” And that’s okay! The fact that you are taking the initiative will go a long way in showing your passion and dedication to the organization. Don’t let a “no” deter you from following up later. After a few months go by, if you are still feeling enthusiastic about your idea, gently follow up and let your manager know this is still something you are thinking about and eager to explore.
As intimidating as it may be to ask for new opportunities, remember that you are the only person who can advocate for yourself. If you don’t ask for it, your manager may not know you are interested in new opportunities. It's essential that you advocate for yourself and maintain an assertive mindset (note, we didn't say aggressive mindset) so that you can continue to develop your career. You are your own best advocate. So, speak up!