Career Questions and Answers

November 4, 2001

Our resident SheSaid career guru offers some professional advice.

Q. I work for a large international computer company as a marketing co-ordinator. My immediate boss is due to take maternity leave in three months and I have been offered her role while she’s away, which will involve greater responsibility and longer working hours. Neither of which I mind, however, I have not been offered any increase in my salary. Should I accept the new role and not mention the salary situation, or should I ask for an increase?

A. This is an excellent opportunity for you to show your true worth. After all you’ve probably been angling for this role for some time. You should sit down with your boss and clearly define what will be expected of you in this role, and what exactly the goals are to be achieved. Instead of asking outright for a salary rise, discuss and agree on what you would be entitled to in the event that you meet the goals set. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a permanent salary increase, it could be a bonus payment, a promotion, or even extra holiday. This way, what you are doing is saying to your boss that you have confidence in your own abilities and are asking to be rewarded when you succeed.

There is no legal obligation for your organisation to pay you more, unless you are working under award conditions. If this is the case, you will need to consult the individual award under which you are employed. Use this situation to its best advantage and show your company what you’re worth!

Q. I have worked for the same company for the last seven years. I started as a telesales operator and over the years have been promoted ‘through the ranks’ to assistant manager. The next level is that of operations manager, which my boss has told me he is happy promote me to. The trouble is he’s been saying it for the last three years! Each time a position becomes available he fobs me off with some excuse or other, and gives the job to someone else. How long should I wait for this promotion? Or should I start looking outside the company to further my career?

A. Get serious! If your boss has been promising you a promotion for three years and has done nothing about it, then you need to evaluate your position within the company. It is time to take stock of your career to date, recognise your achievements, identify your strengths and then take all those skills to a company that is going to recognise and appreciate you.

Sometimes it is hard to break into a senior role in a company in which you have ‘moved through the ranks’, as many people may perceive you as the girl who started as a junior however inappropriate that may seem now. Find yourself a good recruitment consultant, one who specialises in your industry, and ask her to assist you in making your next move.

Q. I have recently been promoted to publicity manager for an educational publishing company. I am not a university graduate and have achieved my professional success by working hard and learning quickly! However, I have recently been told that I am expected to give a presentation to a large audience at an overseas book fair in six months’ time – and I’m petrified! I have never had to present to a large group before and don’t know what to do, or how to prepare such a presentation. Should I confess my fears to my director, or make an excuse to get out of the trip altogether?

A. Yours is a common problem, for which there is a simple solution – get professional public speaking training. The majority of people who you see speaking so effortlessly in the media or at conferences have generally had some form or professional training. Usually a consultant has trained them to ensure they achieve the maximum impact when they present. It’s all about practice. The more public speaking you do, the more comfortable you will become.

As a start, contact organisations such as Toastmasters International, which has 200 clubs across Australia. They are a group of individuals who are all keen to improve their public speaking skills, so it is a very supportive environment in which to learn and gain your confidence. Otherwise, ask your manager if you can attend a training course specialising in professional presentations. These courses are offered by all reputable training companies, such as Rogen International and Mercuri International. This will help with both the content and the delivery of your presentation. If your company will not pay for you, look at funding a course yourself, as professional education courses are normally considered as tax deductable. Check with your accountant for confirmation.

See this as an excellent opportunity to develop another important skill, rather than a situation to dread. Remember: you will be fabulous if you think you’re fabulous!

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