In all of human history, the only people who ever had successful careers were the ones who stumbled upon an ancient, mysterious and well kept secret…
…Actually, that’s not true. Not even slightly. It turns out, there’s no great mystery to getting ahead at work. Most people are just not willing to actually do what it takes. It’s comfier to cruise; easier to accept whatever comes your way.
So, as you face the dawn of your working life, how about you? If you believe you’ve got what it takes to do what it takes, here are the ideas you will need to propel yourself ahead of the pack:
- Own problems when others won’t
Most inexperienced career-builders avoid problems like old asparagus. Problems smack of nothing but emotional difficulty and elbow grease. What people don’t always realise is that any company problem is also an opportunity to stand out. Taking ownership of it shows a high level of maturity and indicates a responsible employee, who might be worth promoting to leadership later on. Successfully solving the problem can turn you into an in-house super-star.
When issues arise, don’t get that ‘deer-in-the-headlights’ stare. Don’t hide in the break room praying it goes away. Take charge of it. It may not feel like it at the time, but this is a career opportunity for you.
- Stand up when others don’t
How’s your Public Speaking? How willing are you to lead staff meetings or stand up and give feedback on a project? To take charge?
Terrified? Just like the ownership of problems, prominence is a strategy; a useful step on the ladder of career development. In the working world, the idea of putting yourself out there to be seen and heard is known as ‘visibility.’ Visibility is exceptionally good for your career.
Can’t think of an excuse to gain the visibility you need? Here’s one: find an article, book or educational material that might be relevant to your colleagues and offer to present some useful ideas from it at the next staff meeting. That’s one way. Now go out and discover some more for yourself!
- Never disappear in fear – communicate
This is similar to the idea of owning problems, but it’s a slight variation on a theme. One of the biggest complaints about young employees is that, when things go wrong, they don’t tell anyone.
Don’t be that person.
If you’ve promised to deliver something by a certain time, and circumstances have changed, making it impossible to keep your promise, communicate that fact quickly. Most (not all, but most) people will not be upset with you, provided you keep in contact. It’s when they hear nothing that the anger begins to boil. And it only gets worse, the longer you wait.
Communicate often and lots. Even when things go wrong. Especially when things go wrong. In the long term, your efforts will have a good effect on your career growth.
- Out-read your competitors
Yes, they are your colleagues. And yes, you have to develop your team-work skills. But when it comes to promotion time, you are competing against them for that top spot.
Ironically, sometimes the ‘winner’ will be the person who shows the best team work. So don’t ever sabotage your colleagues or get in their way.
But do make sure that you are constantly making yourself the most promotable, by reading every business and growth book, article and website that you can get your grubby little paws on. You’ve heard it before, but you need to hear it again, because it’s important. So important, in fact, that I’m going to write it backwards, just so that it stands out:
!rewoP si egdelwonK
(Hint: It rhymes with ‘porridge is dour!’)
- Finally: remember that your career belongs to you.
You are solely responsible for managing it and growing it over time. This means that you should be looking at your career on two levels. The first is the actual, day-to-day work. Keep your standards high. And the second is your career as a whole, and the course that it’s taking. Make sure it keeps going in the right direction.
It ain’t your boss’s job to manage your career. His or her job is simply to ensure that you get the work done. Career development? That’s your baby! Keep raising that baby in the way you want it to grow!
Make the decision to own your career. Now go get ’em!