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Nahrin Jalal
Nahrin Jalal

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The Importance of Self-Advocacy for Career Advancement

This year marks five years (!) since I started my career in the tech industry. To commemorate the milestone, I want to share a practice that has played a monumental role in my career advancement over this time:

Consistent self-advocacy.

I often tell my students how imperative it is to share their accomplishments and elevate their visibility regularly. A lot goes into this, such as weekly accomplishment tracking, connecting your achievements to compensation, scheduling weekly meetings with your manager, collecting testimonials, and more. However, the most repeated blocker I hear is this:

People don't know how to tell their story effectively.

Stories have three parts: a problem, a solution, and a result. If you accomplished something at work recently, you likely had to go through all three of those phases. So now it's time to think about yourself as the protagonist of the story and share it with others.

Crafting Your Story

Firstly, reflect on a professional accomplishment that you're proud of—ideally one that took place recently. Then, answer these questions:

What challenge did you overcome?

Did you break into a new industry or find success with a difficult client? What is the headline of your story?

Highlight your contribution.

Briefly share how your solution addressed the issue. How were your strengths and passions essential?

What was the business impact?

How did you make money or save money for the company? Did you contribute to innovation, revenue, growth, or culture?

Remember to keep your story short! Your final result should be about 3-4 sentences (or bullet points) long. Your manager doesn't have time to read an essay, but she will appreciate and remember your impact if she can quickly understand how you solved a problem for the company.

Also, bear in mind that not every key accomplishment may fit into this storytelling structure. Please still share those other accomplishments with your manager—ensuring that you're still effectively highlighting how you impacted the business.

Ultimately, it all boils down to how you made a difference. Be proud of what you have achieved and share your accomplishments widely.

Seek Support When You Need It

Self-advocacy is difficult.

If you're struggling, remember that you are not the only one feeling this way, and it will get easier with practice.

Also, never think you need to go it alone. Reach out to a mentor. Vent to a trusted friend. Let this incredible community support you.

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