Welcome to Refinery29’s career column Advice From A Nice Girl. Every month, readers can ask Fran Hauser, bonafide boss and author of the book The Myth Of The Nice Girl, their hardest career quandaries, from managing your overly emotional boss to overcoming your biggest work fear. But this advice column comes with a twist — the reader has to take Fran’s advice and report back.
This month, we hear from a 25-year-old marketing analyst working in tech who is trying to get the courage to advocate for herself in order to get a promotion she really wants.
Question: I'm in the process of applying for a promotion at my current company, which involves submitting an updated résumé and an interview. I’m typically a confident person, but I have a difficult time advocating for myself in the workplace and have anxiety about feeling like an imposter. What’s the best way to tackle this?
Fran's Advice: Updating your résumé can work to your benefit in this case. You have the chance to put your accomplishments in writing, along with concrete data that support them. Be sure to include metrics for concrete wins, noting a percentage increase or an absolute number of how your work met or surpassed goals. For instance, the marketing program you launched saw a 30% increase in new newsletter subscribers or social followers. Cut through the jargon and focus on the facts. The goal is to show your employer just how valuable your work is to the company—and remind yourself of it, too.
For the interview, preparing and having a positive mindset is essential. The more confident you are the better you’ll perform. To boost your confidence, look back at your new résumé and the great things you’ve done. Also, ask yourself: Why do I deserve this? How have I added value? Come up with strong answers to both those questions ahead of time. You want to have three solid sound bites at the ready, and make sure you squeeze them into the conversation no matter what the interviewer asks. It can be about your wins, about why you want this promotion, or the added value you provide to the company if you are promoted. You can even ask your friends to mock interview you so you have it down.
Ask yourself: Why do I deserve this? How have I added value?
During the meeting, keep your energy up and be aware of your tone. You want to come across as passionate and energetic about getting this promotion. Own the room, take up space — you can even stand if it seems appropriate!
Before the meeting comes to an end, bring up your sound bites or your most important points if you didn’t get a chance to say something. Don’t leave the room without making them heard. Focus on future accomplishments and opportunities, too, not just past experiences. Say something like, “Based on what I know, here’s where I think the biggest opportunities are.” It’s refreshing to interview someone who shows awareness and a strong point of view. At the end of the day, what will impact their decision is how well you prove that you’re good for business and will continue to be a valuable employee.
The Follow-up: First, I started improving my résumé (I utilized a free template on Canva) and made sure to include a bio that popped, concrete numbers, and a strong design. Then, I did a few mock interviews with my friends and asked them to surprise me with interview questions. I even rehearsed my sound bites in the mirror while getting ready every day. Ultimately, my interview responses had a nice balance between my strengths and bringing it back to the business.
The team was extremely impressed with my résumé! In addition, both of the managers and my senior director could tell how much I prepared for the process, as it showed through my thoughtful responses and the way I presented myself on the day of the interview. The interviews really felt like informal conversations, and I didn’t have anything to be afraid of, but the preparation truly paid off. I found out a week later in my one-on-one with my manager that I got the promotion!