Editor’s Note: This story is part of our special New Year’s package “Your Future Self,” click here to read the full series.
If you’re thinking about going after a salary boost or new position in 2019, you’re not alone.
A December 2018 report from professional services firm Addison Group found that nearly half of job seekers are dissatisfied with compensation at their current job. In addition, more than half of employees have negotiated their salaries with their employers within the past year, and 2 in 5 job seekers say their employers know they’re actively looking for a new job.
But whether you’re intent on boosting your pay or your job title in the new year, it helps to have a plan, These six steps will help you map out the best route to achieve your career goals in 2019.
1. Define your “what” and “why”
The first step to making your career goal happen is to clearly define it and know why you want it, says Lise Stransky, founder of career coaching firm Careers That Work for You. Think about whether you want to stay with the same company and get a promotion or raise, or move on and try something new.
And then think about the underlying, “Why?” Are you looking for career growth or simply more money? What is the need or want that is driving you to pursue these goals? Breaking out that component helps you in two ways: Keeping you motivated to pursue the goal, and understanding whether there is some other way this goal could be fulfilled, she says. For example, if you’re looking for more recognition, but your company can’t offer you a promotion, you may be able to negotiate a new assignment that will better position you for the next opportunity. If a salary increase isn’t possible, you may be able to negotiate remote work opportunities or other perks that have value.
2. Plan your ask around your company’s timing
While the tight labor market means that opportunities and salaries are trending upward, there may be factors that will affect your goals in your situation, says Lisa Quast, founder of Career Woman, Inc. and author of Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach: A Foolproof Guide to Getting the Job You Want. Every Time. For example, your company may be holding off on raises or promotions until the start of its next fiscal year. Or it may have a hiring or raise freeze. Your industry may have cycles that affect when employers are most likely to hire new people. Being aware of such timing can help you plan your goal more effectively, she says.
3. Examine your obstacles
J.T. O’Donnell, founder of Work It Daily, an online learning platform for people interested in building their careers, says that job seekers should dive into examining their negative self-talk to understand the obstacles they face—both real and perceived. “Straight to the negative,” she says. “I know that I’m up against that dang person inside your head 24/7. But I don’t have that luxury.”
Once you examine the reasons you think you can’t accomplish your goal, she can begin to work with you to break down the real issues, and those that are just perceptions to which her clients are clinging, she says. If you’re battling feelings of insecurity, you can begin to break down that negative self-talk so it doesn’t hold you back, she says. If you have a skills gap, you can pursue extra training or take on a stretch assignment to get the experience you need. Quast adds that, sometimes, simply having a plan to get the skills you lack may be enough for an employer to see that you know what you don’t know and are ready to grow into a new role.
4. Assemble the right team
O’Donnell suggests a strategic approach to recruiting the people who can help you accomplish your goals. Create a list of the people who have the careers and skills you admire, including at least three people who represent your definition of “success,” three people in the industry in which you want to work, and three people doing the job you want to be doing. Reach out to these contacts and work on building relationships with them. They each have insight into getting and doing the job that you want.
Mentors and coaches are important, too, O’Donnell says. You want to involve people who will motivate you and keep you accountable to moving forward on your goals, but who also aren’t too invested in you personally that they’re going to lose their objectivity, she says. “For a lot of us, our friends, our family, other people—they don’t have our career in their best interest, and they give terrible career advice,” she says.
5. Treat it like a project
If you were taking on a big new project at work, you would break down what you need have and do to accomplish the assignment successfully. Think about your career in the same way, Stransky says. “You don’t just have a house pop up and it’s done,” she says. First, you need a proper foundation, financing, and building team. “You can’t paint it until you’ve done all those steps, and I would say the same thing is true of trying to make change in a career,” she says.
It may help to create a written plan where you outline the steps you’re going to need to take, as well as notes about obstacles, opportunities, and people who can help you with both, she says.
6. Be persistent
Each of the three experts agreed that persistence is an important part of accomplishing a big career boost in 2019. Don’t let a delay or challenge derail what you want to accomplish, Quast says. She says that, in addition to intelligence, emotional intelligence, and a strong network, career builders need “AQ,” or the adversity quotient. “It’s that grit factor—do they have the passion and perseverance to succeed?” she says.