So you think that being an underdog is a disadvantage? Sorry, but we beg to differ.
Despite the negative connotation of this word, there is something special about being an underdog. Being someone who is not considered as competition actually gets rid of the added pressure and anxiety that comes from being a “top dog”.
Contradictory to popular belief, being an underdog could turn out to be beneficial in the workplace. Working with people who are much more qualified or experienced than you implicitly makes you work harder and prepares you more to get ahead in the competition. What you need to do is to channel your energies in growing your professional exposure and getting the confidence of your boss.
Here is how:
1. Look For Every Opportunity to Prove Yourself
Underdog employees are often considered the least favorite candidate for an important task. But this is an opportunity to turn the tables on the competition and come out as an equal contender.
Let’s say you are a female employee working in an organization and you just heard about a recent internal vacancy that demands a lot of negotiation with male clients. Though you might shy away from such a job, it is actually a chance to prove your mettle as a female employee.
Instead of letting a male counterparts grab that job, you should be the first one to say yes to it. Take the interview part as your chance to convince your boss (especially when he is a male) that you are the right candidate for the job.
To win over your boss, you need to come across as a confident and poised female who can be as good (or better) as her male counterpart for this job.
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2. Play Your Cards Well
An underdog is a dark horse that shows his true colors only when the timing is right. Just like a champion, he only acts when the team desperately needs his support. Similarly, you can come out as a potential candidate for a job if there is something that calls for your skills or experience.
For example, if your manager is looking for a helping hand for a project that demands strenuous mental work, you can help him out by offering your sharp thinking skills. So if you are able to successfully complete the project, you will be able to earn a place in the good books of your boss and he will definitely consider you for a senior position that requires any such skills.
3. Offer Your Innovative Ideas
Underdogs are known for their knack for imagination. They are slaves to their creative ideas which keep them safe from the embarrassment of being an underdog. For employers, an underdog can be an asset than a liability. They are mentally trained enough to find innovative solutions of daily glitches in their job which could be a great help to any employer.
Considering that you are blessed with the art of creative thinking, which is a rarity in the workplace, you can stand out as a better contender for a project or job that requires frequent use of creative muscles. Knowing that you can help your employer with your original ideas, you should demonstrate this special quality while having a one-on-one meeting with your boss.
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4. Don’t Be Afraid of Taking Risks
Underdogs are those breed of employees who tend to take risks where others are not comfortable. Being an underdog takes the burden off your shoulders, so you do not have to feel any pressure as you have nothing to lose even if you fail. This goes in your favor as you can even take up those challenges that others might be reluctant to take on.
For example, if you are a junior employee in a research & development department of a technology firm and you get a temporary job opportunity to lead a project, you might not be as confident to take up the role.
If you think wisely, there is nothing to lose even if you fail. But if you succeed, you will earn the confidence of your boss, and he will be happy to make you a permanent authority to lead the projects.
5. Strike While the Iron is Hot
So you have completed a few projects, saved your manager from the ordeal of a challenging task, and now you want acknowledgment of your work.
Once you are in the good books of your boss, it is time to make the transition from an underachiever to an achiever. After proving your skills and competencies for your job, you now need to have a serious talk with the upper management.
You can ask for a promotion, pay raise or whatever that you deserve for your recently-acquired skills, experiences and achievements. Just make sure that you are prepared for the meeting so that you can effectively make a case for your initiatives that resulted in the benefit of the organization.
Being an underdog is a blessing in disguise. It is just that you need to identify the scenarios where you can use this blessing in your favor and make your way to the list of achievers.