'Take This Book to Work,' by Tory Johnson

How to Ask for Time Off Before Accepting a Position: During the interview process, there may be important dates on your mind that will conflict with your new position if you wind up receiving an offer--a long-standing vacation, a wedding. This is one of those issues where timing is critical. Do not reveal this information before or during the interview process. Chances are it could knock you out of the running--"Oh she's already asking for time off and she hasn't even gotten the offer." Instead, wait until you've received an offer and then use it as part of the negotiation. "I'm thrilled by your offer. I already know of a conflict two months from now for a trip I committed to. I'd like to establish now how this time off will be handled so there are no surprises when the time comes."

How to Ask Your Boss to Share More Information: There are a few ways to go about this while showing your respect for the boss's authority and demonstrating a business need for more information. One is to ask by saying, "I find that my work is much stronger and more thorough when I have all of the relevant information, so would you be willing to share the notes with me from your weekly management meetings?"

Let's say the boss dumps a project on your lap without explaining who or what it's for--and simply expects you to figure it out. Say, "I've been brainstorming ways to tackle this assignment, and I'd like to know for whom this information is intended and how exactly it will be used so I can prepare it in the ideal format for its audience." You're basically saying, "When I'm kept in the loop, my work for you will be all the stronger because of it."

How to Ask the Boss to Help You find a New Job: As surprising as it may sound, your current boss may be a great resource in helping you look for a new position. Obviously you can't take this approach if you two are adversaries, but if there's mutual respect, give it a shot. The boss might have great connections within the company and within the industry. "I've learned so much working for and with you. At this stage, I feel I've contributed as much as I can to this department, and I think it's time for me to move into an area where I can continue to develop new skills. Might you be agreeable to helping me make such a transition?"

How to Ask for a Second Chance to Make a First Impression: We have a finite time to make a lasting impression with decision makers in business. Despite the best of intentions, we sometimes fail to make a positive one. You didn't put your best foot forward, now what? Acknowledge it, briefly apologize and move on. Don't over-apologize and don't belittle yourself, which is a big mistake many women make. Never say, "Oh, I'm such an idiot--I can't believe how badly I messed up." Instead try, "I'm sorry I didn't have the proper materials prepared for our meeting. This project is very important to me, and I'd love the chance to speak again. Do you have 15 minutes next week?"

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