Leaning In At the Start of Your Career
When Sheryl Sandberg published her book Lean In, I immediately sat down and read it. I gobbled up the information like Kool-aid and immediately wished I had read this book prior to starting my career in Corporate America. One, I didn’t negotiate my salary. I should have negotiated it. Two, it would have helped to learn about all her challenges. The first year at my company was eye-opening. Actually it’s still eye-opening. Her stories would have alleviated some of my concerns early on.
One of the thoughts I found interesting is that most women don’t try for opportunities out of their reach because they are afraid they are not ready for the challenge and failing. Well, following her words of trying and reaching above your dreams, I applied for a Business Analyst position a couple weeks ago in another department in my company.
I ran into the VP of the department at an event and showed my interest when he said his organization was hiring. He referred me to the hiring manager, who I then was determined to convince him to interview me for the position. It was pretty late in the process, they already had their short list of candidates but after a couple of “accidentally” running into him sightings, I managed to persuade him to give me an opportunity.
He asked me to schedule an interview with another director and business analyst. I did. I had the interview that same week, and failed miserably. Yes, I failed. And I’m proud of saying I failed. This is a huge change for me. At first I was sad. I totally bombed the interview. I wasn’t prepared, but now I know what type of answers they are looking for, and I will be prepared. In addition, I mentioned it to a couple of other Director in that organization that I was applying for the position. They supported and encouraged me to do so. I leaned in! I reached for an opportunity, failed, and I will try again!
There are several benefits of doing this move 1.5 years into my trajectory here. One, my boss realized someone might steal me, and started to pay more attention to my projects and praising me for my work in front of other people! Seriously! He even told me he realized he wouldn’t know what to do without me. Finally, some response! Two, I put feelers out there that I am interested in growing myself by reaching for new opportunities. Three, I started practicing again. Interviewing is a skill you have to master. Like presentation skills, if you don’t practice, you lose touch. Four, I’m leaning in. It’s so important to lean in to your career.
One of my friends recently reached out to me to discuss her offer at her company. I told her to learn from my mistakes, take a bit to get back to the hiring recruiter and to ask for more money! Men are doing, and so should we! It’s so much harder to ask for a raise. Plus, all your subsequent raises will be based off your starting salary. It makes a huge difference. So, even if you get a phenomenal offer, ask for 10-15% more. It doesn’t hurt to try. All a company can do is say no.
This entire time, I could have been making x% more. Now, I’m going to have to negotiate this x% at my next performance evaluation. When in fact, if I had negotiated this x% at the beginning, my next raise would be based off the higher salary, and I wouldn’t have had to wait 2 years to ask for more money and prove myself. Do you see how it’s so easy to get behind? Prove yourself at the beginning by negotiating your starting salary. I wish I had someone that gave me this advice!