Focusing on your career path is important for a lot of different reasons. The obvious one should be as easy to identify as brushing your teeth in the morning — because you need to establish goals and have something to work towards. That might seem cliche and redundant, but it’s the truth, because you don’t want to be the same person at work 10 years from now as you are today, do you? Hope not.
Here’s a little secret, though; one you decide on your career path, the current company you’re at can go a long way in helping you reach some of those goals you’ve set out for yourself.
Do you want to go to an upcoming industry conference? How about getting a tuition reimbursement? Maybe grab some new software for your laptop? Want to get certified in order to take the next step ahead in you career? If you find yourself saying “yes” to those types of things, then you need to present the ideas to your current company, and then go make it happen for yourself.
Writing a proposal asking your company to pay for these things can be tough, but if you sell it the right way, you can find yourself much more aligned in your career path than some of your peers. Here are some tips on how to do it the right way.
Sell Your Career Path By Being Honest And Ambitious
Really want your company to re-invest in you to help your professional development? Contrary to what you might think, the key to selling the idea of having your company invest in your career path is to make sure you don’t just start by talking about why it would help you.
Here’s the thing, your company only cares about you in the context of how you help them. It’s sad, but true. That means you need to start your sales pitch by showing that your company has a need or opportunity, that there’s a solution to the situation and that you can help the company solve the problem or take advantage of the opportunity.
In most cases, you’ll want to show that you can help your company increase profits by either increasing sales or reducing expenses. Those are the two ways companies increase their profits, which means, if they invest in an individual to learn a skill to help their bottom line — while helping the individual get ahead in their career path — it’s worthwhile.
You might not work in the sales department, but if you can do things like help make the product better, improve marketing or streamline delivery times, you’ll help increase sales. You might not work in the finance department, but if you can do things like reduce IT costs, improve employee retention, lower printing expenses or decrease shipping costs, you’ll help lower expenses.
As you organize a proposal document to show your manager, create an outline that looks like this.
Start With An Executive Summary
Call out a problem or opportunity the company has, such as slow delivery times, high product returns or minimal website page views. Show that there’s a general solution. Demonstrate that the company should choose you to solve the problem based on several metrics.
Keep the executive summary short — about half a page — and don’t provide the costs of your proposal in the executive summary. Tease the reader to want to read more.
Give A General Solution
Don’t bore managers with lots of background, including information about you or your career goals. Early in your proposal, after you’ve demonstrated the company’s need, show the generic solution to the problem or the non-specific way that the company can capitalize on the opportunity.
For example, if your company is experiencing high product returns, the solution might be to provide more online video tutorials.
Show that you are the person who can create the change. Provide your experience in this area and explain why your position or department should be handling this.
List The Exact Steps The Company Should Take
Give the specific steps the company needs to take to solve their problem or take advantage of the opportunity. Include any software, vendor help or resources the company would have to buy.
Don’t just list, “Create online tutorials,” as one of the steps; be more specific. List the software or hardware you’ll need, which includes whether you can do this in-house or will need to contract it out, while explaining how customers will access the videos. Then show how you’ll get the information to customers at different points during the sales funnel.
Give The Numbers
Now that you’ve shown management there’s a problem and have demonstrated the solution, show the investment cost and projected return on investment. Include links to specific product pages, show several options and recommend sellers.
After you’ve shown the cost, show the expected return. If your proposal helps reduce expenses, give the exact numbers and confirmation from the people in finance, purchasing, IT or other areas who know the number.
Wrap things up by comparing the company’s investment cost (in you) to the expected dollar benefits. Lastly, provide the numbers for a specific project and give the expected numbers for years to come. Since they’re investing in your career path, remind them that your ROI to the company will increase each year as the company grows.