Imagine the ideal version of your current role—the same job, but tailored specifically to fit your interests and strengths. You’d keep the responsibilities you love, cut out the duties you dread, and add on a few projects that you’ve been dying to get your hands on.
Sound too good to be true? I admit, creating this ideal job sounds like a pretty lofty goal. In fact, I’d probably scoff at the idea—if I hadn’t just done it successfully myself!
I started out at my company managing internal, employee-facing communications, but recently expanded my role to include collaborating with the company’s PR team. While I enjoyed my initial position, I wanted the opportunity to work with media outlets and constituents outside of the company (which is common in a PR-focused role). Rather than looking for new job, I decided to present the idea of a new position to my boss, and I ended up creating my perfect gig.
So, if your current role isn’t everything you want it to be, remember that you don’t always have to go back to square one. Follow these steps to turn your current position into your dream job.
Sleep on It
OK—it’s an anticlimactic first step, but when you’re venturing into unchartered professional waters, it’s smart to take some extra time to think things through. Sit down and specifically define what your ideal role in the company would be. What new responsibilities would you want to take on? Which would you rather transition away from? How would this new role benefit you, and in what new ways could you add value to your team and company?
For me, this step also involved doing some general industry research to see if my then-imaginary role existed elsewhere. I wanted to demonstrate that such a position could be successful in other, similar organizations—and therefore, would likely work in my company, too. Luckily, I found several companies that employ people in the role I was seeking.
Also run your plan by a few trusted friends or colleagues. Their questions and objections (“Do you have enough time to redesign the company website?” “Is your boss really going to go for you being out of the office for sales meetings?”) will help you clarify your goals, keep your plan realistic, and make sure you really want to pursue the job further.
Put it on Paper
Once you’ve thought things through, done your homework, and decided with full confidence that you want to move forward with the proposal of a new position, put it on paper. A formal overview of your envisioned role, including your new duties and how they could impact your team and the company, will help convey your ideas clearly and professionally, and demonstrate to your manager that you’ve thought it through completely.
As part of this plan, you’ll also want to propose how to cover any of your current duties that you’d be transitioning away from. I broke down those responsibilities, determined how much of my time was dedicated to each, and then structured a solution that ensured seamless coverage for those areas.
Present it to Your Boss
Now comes the most important (but nerve-wracking!) part: Presenting the idea to your boss.
I scheduled a meeting with my boss to go over my ideas, and brought up the topic in a positive, open way: I began the conversation by explaining that while I was grateful for everything I was learning in my current role, I hoped to progress in my career by integrating new and different responsibilities into my position. So, I shared a little about the position I had created in my mind, along with a few of the new duties I was hoping to tackle.
He responded well to this, but had some additional thoughts. He suggested that I continue to think about how my new role might work and interact with different teams and come back later in the week with an updated version of the plan. He wasn’t opposed to what I had suggested at all—he just wanted to make sure we had answers to any potential questions before we moved forward. In fact, I’m fortunate to have a supportive boss who was willing to hear me out and help me take my career in the right direction.
Rally the Troops
Once you have approval from your boss, it’s important to discuss your evolving position with the other people who will be impacted by the change, including your other supervisors, clients, and team members. Giving them a heads up is not only a courtesy, but it also gives them a change to voice their thoughts and opinions—which will help you identify potential challenges you may have overlooked earlier in the process.
The biggest opposition I ran into was from people on both teams I’d be working with, who were concerned that I’d have too much work on my plate. I addressed the objections by referencing my plan, highlighting the natural connections between the two areas of work, and identifying ways that I could streamline our existing procedures and benefit everyone along the way. For example, when my company launches new products, we take steps to inform not only our employee base, but also external news outlets and stakeholders. So by working in a hybrid role and interacting with both audiences, I would be able to ensure consistent messaging and an aligned approach to outreach.
Don’t forget, if your upgraded role comes to fruition, you’ll need to set expectations and measurements for success, including performance goals for your annual reviews—especially if this role has never existed before at your company! This will allow you, as well as your boss and colleagues, to make sure the new arrangement is successful for everyone involved. While it may seem like a simple transition in your mind, others who are impacted by the change will need to understand how you’ll be evaluated.
This isn’t a strategy that will work out for everyone, but it did for me, and it’s made a huge difference in my job satisfaction. It’s been a few months in my new role and I love my responsibilities and how my day-to-day work has evolved. My work is more challenging, I’m sharpening new skills, and I’m much better positioned for long-term career growth.