At 18, I had my first “real” job working at a small law firm. I had my very own desk, computer, and stationary. I remember feeling responsible, nervous and excited all at the same time. I thought I had arrived….(into adult-hood) until I realized I lacked quite a few things.
1. How to say NO. When you’re just starting out, saying YES is what you think you’re supposed to do, especially if you’re a bit insecure about your ability to pair up with people who have more experience than you. Some people say yes to be nice. Others say yes because they think if they say no, they’ll be viewed as someone who doesn’t want to work or isn’t serious about being part of the team. I’ve discovered that saying YES and not having the time or experience it takes to get the work done the right way is far worse than saying no could ever be. Saying yes and turning in mediocre work is never a good thing. Saying NO kindly and confidently will be a powerful tool in your career toolbox. If you ever get stuck, try this: “Would you mind giving me some time to think it over? I have a few things I need to consider before deciding.” Most people don’t mind giving you a night or two to sleep on it. It’s respectful, yet not quite a solid NO without thought.
2. How to ask for a raise. Asking for a raise can be tricky and honestly, it takes a bit of boldness and confidence to do it. That’s why most young professionals take whatever they can get, keep their heads down and hope for the best. When they look up, they realize they’ve spent far too long giving away all that good talent for little to nothing in pay. When I teach my Salary Negotiation course, I tell my students to remember this key factor: If you don’t know how to effectively communicate your value, it cannot be measured in compensation.
It’s much easier to ask for a raise when you know your value and can clearly relay that value to your boss. Work is a give/take relationship. When negotiating, don’t overlook that fact. Any successful negotiation ends with both parties not fully getting what they want, but being satisfied with what they have.