Outsmart your career in the long-term!

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You’ve found a great job and you have every right to celebrate.

The tips below are a good starting point for taking advantage of the opportunities your new job will offer-and creating a few opportunities of your own.

1.  Regular career self-evaluations

The self-evaluation is a way to keep track of your continuing career achievements and goals. At least once a year, write down a list of the skills and experiences you hope to obtain from your job and where you want to be in the coming year. By comparing this list to what is actually happening, you will be able to determine the rate of your professional growth. If your job is helping you to achieve most of your desired career goals, then you know you are making good progress. If not and there are sizable discrepancies between your “wish list” and your “reality list” over a reasonably long period of time, you may want to consider renewing your job search efforts.
Thinking long-term makes you feel happy and motivated to achieve your goals and to make your dreams come true!

2.  Answer the questions below:

  • Where do you want to be in your career in five years, ten, or twenty?
  • What can you do now to ready yourself for these goals?

Considering the distant as well as immediate future can help you to make important decisions regarding your career. A 31-year-old professional who works for an accounting firm said: “I have a rough idea of where I want to be, using age as a scale. I want to be in a management role by the age of thirty-five, for example. If I’m not there in a few years, I have to assess some things. Why am I not getting promoted? Am I not performing up to the necessary level? Or is the company overlooking me because of something beyond my control? If this is the case, I’ll have to find another company to stay on track.” For this employee, as well as for many others, short- and long-term career appraisals are a regular part in their life.

3.  Pay attention to your performance reviews

Many employers, already implemented job performance reviews. Once every six months, or once per year, your line manager and sometimes your colleagues and subordinates too, will review your job performance based on competencies such as leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving abilities.

It’s natural to resist at the thought of performance reviews. Therefore, if you choose to ignore them, you will also be ignoring their impact on your career prospects. Indeed, performance reviews are often weighted heavily when promotion time and raise discussions come around. If you’re serious about moving ahead in your career, don’t be passive about performance reviews. Be gracious when your strengths are pointed out, but pay more attention to the areas that need improvement. If your supervisor says that your presentation skills are not effective, for example, make an effort to improve them. You could take a public speaking seminar and maybe your company will be willing to invest on it. There are plenty of ways to improve weaknesses in your employment performance; Read books, take classes, enroll in online courses, seek the advice of those who are adept in the areas that you are trying to shape your career. In the meantime, be sure that your supervisor is aware of your attempts at self-improvement. Don’t assume that she or he is aware and will automatically take into consideration your efforts at your next performance review.

4.  What about those long months between reviews?

Don’t wait for your employer to initiate discussions about your job performance. Approach your manager(s) and ask, ‘Am I working up to your expectations? Do you have any suggestions for how I can become a better employee?” Being proactive about your own improvement is a great way to get noticed for the right reasons.

And speaking of getting noticed, the next time you’re praised in an e-mail, letter, or memo, be sure to keep a copy. Keep a folder and collect items that illustrate your value to the company and your continuing improvement. Keep copies of your performance reviews, too. The next time you begin a job search or you would like to apply for a position internally, this folder will help to convince future employers or your Manager(s) with facts that you are a valuable candidate for the position and you are worth hiring.

5.  Stay on good terms with your line manager

Your manager is the person who will recommend you for a promotion, if the opportunity arises. For this reason and for many others, staying on good terms with him/her is imperative. Put time and effort into the relationship. Try to think from your manager’s perspective:

  • What drives him/her?
  • How he/she does her job?

6.  And more importantly, what can you do to make his/her job easier?

If there’s an important project in process, for example, don’t hesitate to work extra hours. Work on the bureaucratic tasks that you know your manager hates! If you can lighten his/her workload in a helpful rather than invasive way, you will make yourself more valuable. In fact, if you can become indispensable to your manager, he/she will bring you up with him/her if he/she will receive a promotion.

7.  But what can you do if, despite your best efforts, your relationship with your manager doesn’t work properly?

If you’ve been consistently passed over for promotions, if you’ve been in the same position for the last few years despite prospects of upward mobility, if relations between you and your manager are consistently tense or uncomfortable, it may be time to explore other horizons.

If you like your company, one option would be a lateral move. If you take a job at the same level, but with a boss who likes you on a personal level, your chances of promotion will be much greater. Of course, you can also look for employment outside the company.

8.  Speak to those who have succeeded

In your current company, or perhaps in your industry in general, there are successful people that you respect and admire.

  • How did they get to where they are today?
  • What paths did they take?
  • And how do they stay at the top of their game?

No matter at what level you’re in the company, speak to those people and learn from their abilities, skills, or drive. You can contact them online, introduce yourself and ask them to arrange a call or a video call or even to meet them in person If it’s possible. Or you can take a more formal approach and ask for brief informational sessions. Either way, by listening to and learning from others, you can cultivate your own professional growth.

In addition, you may be the person whom others are seeking out. If there are people at your company whom you can encourage and assist, reach out to them. The more friendships you create in a professional level; the more benefits you will receive.

9.  Exceed expectations

Above and beyond your job description, what else can you do to make the most for your position? Complete your tasks, then try to do more.
There are many ways to leave your mark at work. Volunteer to do something small, like record the minutes of a company meeting. Better yet, tackle a larger problem. Organize a team dedicated to find a solution for a persistent company problem, or volunteer to complete an unpopular, but high-profile assignment. Consistently go the extra mile, as long as doing so doesn’t interfere with your regular workload. Your leadership abilities won’t be lost on those around you.

10.  Look for opportunities both within your company and beyond

If you’ve been in your job for at least a year, a promotion isn’t the only path towards your career advancement. Applying for and landing an internal job of higher level and responsibility is another way of getting ahead. Most companies will pick qualified internal candidates over qualified external ones. Beware, however, don’t apply for an internal position if you haven’t spent at least twelve months in your present job. While companies are partial to internal candidates, they don’t want someone who will jump from one position to another.

Take a look at the new openings in your company frequently. Better yet, look for a suitable internal job before it’s published. Sometimes, you’ll get a heads-up through word of mouth or office gossip. However, it’s better to speak to the HR person who is responsible for filling that position.

While applying for an internal position, don’t hide your intentions from your manager. He’ll probably find out down the road, through a human resources person or another employee, so you might inform him/her as well before to proceed. Also, while it’s acceptable to apply for one or two positions, don’t apply for all open positions. Why? Because Human Resources won’t take you seriously and your lack of specificity will show that you don’t have a specific goal. It’s much better to wait until the position will open in the future.

While looking for opportunities internally, it’s important to keep an eye for the opportunities that exist outside of your company. If you successfully used a recruiter in the past, let him know if and when you are about to begin your new job search. It’s also a good idea to keep your resume available on at least one employment site in case another company wants to contact you as soon as they have a position that fits on your background and skills. Just don’t make your resume too available. If you’ve uploaded your CV in all online job boards, there’s a chance your present manager to notice it or even your HR department will and then he/she will inform your manager. Getting caught in the act of looking for an outside job is an unofficially declaration about your decision to leave the company; something you might not be prepared to do.

11.  Never stop networking

Just because you are happy with your current job doesn’t mean you should stop your networking efforts. In fact, the best time to network is probably when you are comfortably situated in a job. Also, you’ll be able to talk freely with your contacts without having to ask them for favors.
Keep track of your contacts and how often you communicate with them. It’s easy to let months, and even years, pass in between phone calls and e-mails. And the more time that elapses, the harder it is to reestablish contact. Use a calendar to help you organize your correspondence. Keep your address book updated with the correct phone numbers and e-mails of each of your contacts.

If you have a long contact list but little time, try to prioritize. Be sure to make time to see in person those contacts who are most important to you. For acquaintances or casual contacts, the occasional e-mail or phone call is an acceptable alternative to a face-to-face meal or coffee break.

While keeping up-to-date with old contacts is crucial to networking, so too is meeting new people. Your new job will mean lots of fresh faces, so don’t be shy about introducing yourself. Stop and chat with your new coworkers at company parties. Go for drinks or dinner with your department. If your company sponsors an employee sports team or weekend activity that doesn’t interfere with more important obligations, just sign up.

If your company doesn’t offer many opportunities for socializing, invent your own. Invite some of your coworkers to your house for a dinner party. If time permits, organize a trip or movie night, bowling alley, or a concert. If you want to organize a larger event or to start a club or a sports team, speak to human resources before you proceed. You may need the department’s consent and to follow a certain protocol. Nevertheless, human resources personnel are thrilled when employees think of new and innovative ways to boost company morale.

Finally, remember that networking will benefit you throughout your career.

According to a recent poll conducted by the SHRM in USA, the percentage of jobseekers who rate networking as an effective job search tactic was 78%. Referrals from employees also ranked high at 65 %.

Obviously, when it comes to finding jobs and advancing in your career, the more people you know, the better will be.

By Marie Pavlou, 2018
“Unlock your Greatness”

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