You’re the hype squad for your own career. 📢
That’s right. It’s up to you to advocate for your own success. You have to find ways to humbly share your wins, talk about your progress, and guide the conversation about your future. But it can be tough to know when to keep your head down or speak up.
Self-advocacy is the ability to speak up for what you want and need. This isn’t a skill that comes naturally for everyone. Sometimes talking about your career goals and seeking to learn and grow can feel obtrusive and awkward. But if you’re committed to pushing your career forward, self-advocacy is something you must hone.
Advocating for yourself can look like a lot of different things. It can mean asking for a raise, pursuing a promotion, hiring support staff, moving to another department, looking for mentorship, or even just making sure your ideas are heard. Self-advocacy can also be the key to fighting stress and finding even more joy in your career.
Here’s how to become your own hype squad at work:
Don’t rely on your up-line
Sure, in an ideal manager-employee relationship, you would have an advocate and mentor who sets goals, shares feedback, and supports your growth. After all, your manager should be the person singing your praises and fighting for you at every turn.
But deadlines never stop, and we all get busy. So I’ve found that this scenario isn’t always enough to guarantee advocacy in the workplace. Therefore, self-advocacy is imperative to ensure you’re taking full responsibility for your own career growth and happiness.
Self-advocacy also means not waiting around for your review to speak up. It’s important to find time throughout the year to use your voice — make sure your wants and needs are met in the workplace. Keep in mind, these conversations may not always be with your up-line. Sometimes speaking to your own employees or coworkers is what you need in the moment.
Build the hype
Self-advocacy requires full belief in yourself. Empower yourself by building a list of all you have accomplished in your career, specifically in your current role or in the roles you’ve held at your organization.
If you’re like me, work can be a whirlwind. I do so much in a quarter that it’s sometimes hard to stop, reflect, and take in the accomplishments.
Build time into every quarter to sit down and track your wins and better understand things that didn’t go as planned. I do this by collecting the work I’m most proud of and tucking it away for my portfolio. You can even update your personal website or refresh your resume.
Whatever builds your confidence, make time to do it regularly.
What are your goals and objectives? You can’t communicate what you want if you don’t have a clear understanding of what it looks like. Build a plan for your goals over the next few months or even a year or more in advance — whatever hypes you up.
Start by reviewing your job description and reminding yourself of the current goals of your role. Ask yourself questions like:
- How can I push my current role to the next level?
- What areas would I like to gain more experience in?
- Are there professional development opportunities I want to take advantage of?
- What will it take to advance to the next role up? Do I want it?
- What would make me happier at work every day?
Once you have your goals in place, you can begin putting together the objectives to reach them.
For example, if you’re hoping for a promotion in the next six months, list out what you plan to do to lay the groundwork to make this happen. This can include taking on extra projects, sharing your goals with your manager, or going through some training. These specifics will allow you to have the important conversations necessary for self-advocacy.
Communicate with confidence
Now it’s go time. Actually talking about what you want is the hardest part of advocating for yourself. Break out of the mindset that humble, head-down work will help you achieve your goals. You will never get what you don’t ask for. Don’t be afraid to make time to talk yourself up.
Bragging and discussing your skills and accomplishments are two very different things. And the fear of being a bragger keeps many of us from practicing self-advocacy. I’ve found that coming with a plan and keeping emotions in check is essential for conversations about your wants and needs.
Here are five things to remember when you’re having self-advocacy conversations:
- Believe you deserve all that you’re asking for.
- Be direct and maintain eye contact.
- Stay calm and keep your emotions in check.
- Don’t compare yourself to others.
- Talk about your accomplishments and the value your work brings to the organization as a whole.
Self-advocacy is a life long journey and the more you do it, the easier it will become.