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Common Questions and Answers
You’ve been in the same job for over three years. Feeling a little stale? A promotion or change of pace would be ideal and you’ve seen some interesting jobs on your company’s internal career website. Or maybe there isn’t exactly what you’d like, but you want to do some further exploration by networking. What do you do?
Over my 30 years in corporations and start-ups, I have heard and read employee feedback that said, “My company is not promoting me, I’m not earning what I should be, my management team does not value my work, I’m under-leveled, there are no jobs for me to move up into.”
There is nobody more accountable for your career growth than you. And nobody cares about it as much as you do. So take control, stop whining, and do something about it. Now! Set a date (in two weeks?) to finish describing and documenting your next career move. Own it. Describe the timing, the function, the team, and even the name of the person sitting in the chair that you would like to occupy tomorrow.
Most companies have a process for holding a career discussion. This is NOT the way to do it: fill out the minimal information, don’t put a lot of time into it, and press, “enter.” Then, in the meeting with your boss, you tell him/her what you believe they want to hear such as, “I just want to stay here doing a great job” or “You are a great boss and I’m learning so much.”
So, you’re afraid to hint at a lack of commitment by sharing that you would like to pursue opportunities in another division or, god forbid, change functional roles within your company? Why are your career goals your best-kept secret? Believe me, those who are moving up around you have been very clear about their goals. Crystal clear.
I know, WHAT? Dana, you are asking me to not only tell my boss that I want to look at other opportunities AND ask him/her to help me?
Yes, I am!. By working together, you and your boss can plan for your eventual replacement. More importantly, he/she looks good. They can proudly tell their manager that, based on your career discussions, they are sponsoring your career growth. If/when you leave, it will be considered a positive move because your boss will be viewed as an exporter of good talent and will import good talent for your replacement.
During my 11 years at Microsoft, I was continually disappointed with the low meeting quality of an “informational” requested by an internal job-seeker. At times there were many people who needed to find another position since they were part of a team that was reorganized, their initiative came to an end, or they weren’t well matched with a manager or supervisor. Others simply wanted to explore. Regardless of their reasons, the requestor was ill-prepared, had no agenda, took no notes, and broke the golden rule: An informational meeting IS an interview! Yes, folks, it is!
In the same manner as in a formal interview, the manager will observe you from the minute you approach them to the minute you leave. Assessments are being made to decide if you would be a fit for their team and have the skills they are looking for. Even if they don’t have a job opening now, they are forming an opinion.
Call the meeting for 30 minutes, have a written agenda with 3 items only, bring pen and paper to take notes, bring a copy of your rÃ©sumÃ©, and bring the questions YOU want to ask!
I have hosted hundreds of informational meetings; here are the things NOT to do: come in empty-handed, wear shorts and flip-flops, be unprepared to discuss what it is my division does, and have no clear goal of what you are looking for.
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