Ask for what you want.
Two years into my first job at Target, I was ready for the next role. (At least I thought I was ready.) A next level job opened up and I wanted it. My boss told me that I should go ask the SVP for the job. Ummmmm, no way was I going to do that. I thought that my work should speak for itself and if I deserve it, I’ll get it.
He insisted that it didn’t work like that. While yes, the quality of my work is important, (and obviously without that, the conversation ends there), but also important is leadership knowing that you want the job, why you want the job, that you’re willing to work your butt off for the job.
So I mustered up the courage, walked into his office at 5:15 p.m. when I knew he’d be there, and asked him if he had 5 minutes to talk. I didn’t know him very well, and was so nervous that he was going to think I was a total idiot.
It was a quick chat. I told him all of the reasons why I wanted that job, that I’d work my butt off, and why I was going to kill it in that role. He paused, cocked his head to the side and simply said … No, you’re not ready yet. And, it’s the wrong job for you.
I was crushed. I thought my career was over. But before I left his office, I asked him why he felt I wasn’t ready. He provided me some very instructive feedback on what he needed to see from me to get the next job. It was like he just gave me the answer key. GAME. ON.
Three months later he called me back into his office and told me that he was going to promote me into a $1B business in my second job at Target that was clearly more aligned with my skillset and personal passions. I was elated. He told me that job was probably beyond my skillset, but that he had the confidence in me that I would figure it out because of my results to date, but also because I demonstrated the hustle, drive and the courage to ask for and take on the challenge. Asking for the job didn’t get me the job, but it put me into a consideration set that I probably wasn’t initially in. And, the conversation helped me better understand what success looked like.
So turns out that my boss was right. You have to ask for the job. Every time. Since then I’ve asked for many jobs, including the messy hard ones - they’re the ones where I’ve grown the most. (Yes, I asked to go to Canada with Target.) The moral of the story? There are many:
Work your butt off in the job you’re in. (If you don’t do this, you can ignore the rest.)
Ask what you can be doing better for your business and your team.
Make your intentions known.
Ask for what you want.
If you crush #1 - #3, it makes #4 and #5 a whole lot easier. Asking for what you want is important in seeking out your next role, but it goes way beyond that. If you practice this, you’ll be surprised at what the universe throws in your lap.