Everything Veterans Need to Know About Renegotiating Their Job

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(U.S. Army/Dustin Senger)

During your time in the military, job growth looked different: Career progression was more predictable, structured and understood. Contrast that to what you're seeing in the civilian sector. Now, how quickly you grow in the company, where you pivot to and when you advocate for yourself is up to you.

As you consider your current work, it's healthy to ask yourself: Is it time to renegotiate your job?

Why You Might Want to Renegotiate Your Current Job

There are many reasons you might want to discuss your job options with your boss, including:

1. Your skills aren't fully utilized.

If you were hired into a position that isn't fully leveraging your skills, certifications, training and experience, you might feel underutilized and unfulfilled.

2. You see an opportunity to add more value.

Perhaps you're in a contributor role, but you seek management and leadership.

3. You want to work in a different location (geographically).

If you were hired into one office, but you want to relocate to a different city within the company, this could be a good reason to renegotiate your job.

4. You need additional resources that are available elsewhere in the company.

In some organizations, resources aren't evenly distributed, and you might desire to work with a team that has more of what you need to succeed.

5. You want to grow your experience in a different department.

For example, if you were hired into the graphics department but your passion is digital marketing, switching departments could expand your overall marketing value in proactive ways.

6. You aren't happy.

Before quitting the job and company, renegotiating your work could offer you a chance to find happiness at the organization. Perhaps the work schedule, environment or team you work with isn't providing you good balance, and you need to make adjustments. In many cases, the company will work with you to find a better option for you rather than having you quit.

How to Renegotiate Your Job

Understand the landscape. Before you approach your boss with a desire to redesign your current job, take a look at the company, market and team environment. Is the company in a growth mode or barely surviving? Is the market the company serves expanding or shrinking? Is your team doing well or fraught with high turnover?

These answers will help you evaluate whether the company, market and team will support you making a shift in your job, or if you're better off waiting or seeking growth elsewhere.

Consider timing. If you answered in the negative to the first set of questions, you might want to hold off for a bit. Asking for growth in your job when the company barely is surviving could be seen as ill-timed. Similarly, if your boss is heading off to maternity leave or about to dive into a massive project, they might question your timing.

Examine your track record. Do you have credibility to ask for what you seek? If you've only been with the company a short time and haven't established yourself with the team, your boss or company leadership, your request may be premature.

If you've been recognized for your work, hit milestones that are important to the company and have built credibility with your peers and boss, your track record could support asking for a change to your job.

Enlist allies and sponsors. Make sure you have the support from credible sources in the company. Your mentor, allies and internal sponsors within the organization will be able to coach you through the renegotiation, advocate for you with your boss and support you through the process of growing your career at the company.

Prepare for the meeting. This is not a time to "wing it." Prepare how you'll approach the conversation, what you'll say, which questions you'll ask and how you'll listen to your boss' responses and input. Then practice with a trusted ally.

Be OK with the outcome. If you get what you're asking for, great. Plan for how you'll dive into the new skills, work or team you requested. If you don't get the changes you seek, plan for how you'll go back to what you're currently doing and show a positive attitude.

There are many variables that go into a job renegotiation. You may not be privy to conversations or changes inside the company that interfere with your ask. Or your request may be perfectly timed and things fall into place swiftly. Either way, taking charge of your career is now up to you, and if you've done your homework and believe the time is right to renegotiate your job, do so with confidence and clarity.

The author of "Success After Service: How to Take Control of Your Job Search and Career After Military Duty" (2020) and "Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition" (2014), Lida Citroën is a keynote speaker and presenter, executive coach, popular TEDx speaker and instructor of multiple courses on LinkedIn Learning. She regularly presents workshops on personal branding, executive presence, leadership communication, and reputation risk management.

A contributing writer for Military.com, Lida is a passionate supporter of the military, volunteering her time to help veterans transition to civilian careers and assist employers who seek to hire military talent. She regularly speaks at conferences, corporate meetings and events focused on military transition.

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