How to Talk to Your Boss About Your Career

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One of the most fulfilling parts of any job is the feeling that you’re contributing to something greater while growing as a person and a professional in the process. To create a fulfilling and fruitful career, it’s important to take the initiative when it comes to conversations about your future.

Whether you’ve been with your company for one or 20 years, an honest conversation with your boss can have a meaningful impact on your career trajectory. Following are a few practical tips you can apply to maximize the effectiveness and productivity of a conversation about your career:

Prepare for the conversation

The first step is to do research. You may not be aware of all the different options and career paths available to you, so it’s important to gain an understanding of the different functions and roles for which you’re qualified. Look for positions in your field that require your skills or pique your interests. Review job boards to understand the current state of the market, what skills are in demand, and what salary can be expected based on your experience and your education. If you find that your skills or your pay are below average or that alternative industries or job functions interest you, consider a graduate business degree, which can help you boost your career and make you a more desirable job candidate.

Understand your unique value

Having a solid understanding of your unique talents and abilities is pivotal when mapping your career trajectory. It’s also important to know your areas of weakness and how you plan to improve on them. Completing a self-assessment is a great way to get a comprehensive understanding of your strengths and shortcomings. Then, think of impressive wins you’ve had, successful projects and outcomes, challenges you overcame, or difficult situations you championed. Write down these experiences and examine any similarities. You’ll also want to think about your company and the goals it’s trying to achieve. Consider your role in the equation and how you can best support initiatives. Finally, use all this information as a compass to chart your course: perhaps you want to receive a raise, change job functions, or request that your employer fund your b-school education.

Set the tone for the conversation

Once you feel adequately prepared, approach your boss and let him or her know that you’re interested in learning how to expand your skillset and grow as a professional within your company. Provide information beforehand about why you want to meet so they also have time to prepare. When you do sit down together, start the conversation by expressing gratitude for your boss’s time and insights. During the discussion, remember that the goal of the meeting is to gain new and better information from someone with a different perspective than yours. Be prepared with your goals and ideas for moving forward but remain open minded to other ideas and options your boss may bring to the meeting.

Ask the tough questions—even if you feel awkward

Meeting with your manager is a great opportunity for constructive feedback. Ask your boss to share what they think your greatest skills are and in what areas you could develop. Discuss their long-term goals for the company, the team, and you. Question what future they see for you at the company and if there’s room for growth. Understanding the specifics surrounding why your boss values you as well as the direction in which they envision your career moving will help you make an informed decision about your future.

Remember that this conversation is just the start

No matter the outcome of the conversation, give yourself time to digest the new information from your meeting before taking any action. Contemplate any new options and let questions naturally arise. If you need to, schedule subsequent meetings to gain further clarification or approval for next steps.

Having a conversation with your boss about your career path can seem daunting, but with adequate preparation and an open mind you can start taking the next steps along your career path. This is a great way to learn about new opportunities at your company, options for going back to school, methods for switching industries, or strategies for increasing your earning potential. No matter the outcome, having a conversation with your boss about your future will equip you with new and vital information that will bring you closer to professional excellence. If you want to take your career to the next level, click below to learn how business school can help.

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