Monday, March 10, 2014

Advancing in your career?

Monthly job progression reminder. Every day, week, month, quarter and year, remind yourself to review your situation in your career position, or at your job, if that's how you see it. I've spoken on this before, but I thought it might be time to bring it up again, being it is a new year and all.

And it's been a while not but, the Seahawks won the Super Bowl! Or, the Superb Owl, as Stephen Colbert calls it on his show.

How is your job going?

How have you progressed toward something better? Try to find one thing per day that helps to move you even one inch closer to advancement in whatever way you define that. Your current job helps you advance through networking, showing you are creative, productive, personable. Your boss always should know your being around is helping him to advance in some way. Your coworkers should know by your being their it somehow enhances their work careers.

But you also need to progress outside your company. Is anyone talking about you career wise to others? How can you get them to? Have you contacted others outside your company in a professional capacity? Have you volunteered somewhere to pick up skills you need to perfect or acquire, or that will give you an in road at some point in the future should you leave your job? Are you acquiring references? Have you built your resume, reviewed it quarterly and sent it out to jobs you might, but probably can't get?

Realize too that in your off hours, they are not just there for you to rest up to go back and do your job, or just for entertainment and leisure purposes, or to simply be with family or friends. Off hours are your money in the bank to learn new things, do activities to advance your life and career and educate yourself, too.

To get new jobs you try for a job you are qualified for but maybe just a little shy of in skills or resources so that once you gain the position, you can grow quickly into it. Don't lie on your resume or interviews, but enhance and be prepared to be taken at your word, and expand to justify their confidence in you, once hired.

One thing to remember in working for a company, especially a corporation. They won't hesitate to lay you off for a second. Unless possibly, if you are very, very good or have a job no one else wants or will be hard for them to replace so that your responsibilities simply stop  once you're gone, otherwise, anyone is a possibility to be laid off.

So don't hesitate to use them for your advancement, in any ethical way you can possibly think of.

That isn't to say, steal from them. But to make the best use of your time there. For instance, if you use your work time to seek other jobs, be sure you are working harder to get your work done sooner than normal so you are making up for your extracurricular activities.

Some companies don't mine and are more lax about this kind of thing. Some want you to advance and in some cases it is expected. When I worked at the University of Washington in their Personnel office, they actually expected you to apply for jobs above your position so you will move into a new job within a year or two. At eighteen months, they started talking to you about why you are still there, even before that, but in a good way.

They were more like family who cared about you, then an employer who wanted you out as soon as possible. You could certainly stay at your current position but it was a wonderful environment to know that they wanted to see you succeed and progress in life and career. Don't get me wrong, it was a tough job in some ways, too. Although if you wanted to stay in your current job, they would then talk to you about what you could do to enhance your education or skill sets. Really, it was a pretty wonderful environment to be in, in many ways. And at the time, it was run mostly by women, which is interesting to note.

Some companies don't mind if you use their copy machines/printers for printing out new resumes. Some, will fire you if they find out you do. The idea isn't to rip off your company, but to make the most use of the resources you have available to you, through your being there. Yes, you should work on this at home, on your own time, before or after work, or at lunchtime. But if your current job can propel you into a higher position or even a better one elsewhere, you are wasting your time and money, and possibly your company's, if you don't make use of what resources are available to you.

Ask around, you might find out you have resources you knew nothing about. But don't be foolish as some companies would move you out of the company if they find out. I might argue in that case however, that you should probably find another company to work for anyway.

I'd also like to say, and maybe this is just me, but I've heard others mention it, that every time I've had a bad situation, get laid off, or whatever, I've eventually ended up in a better situation anyway. Even though it can be tough at times.

You don't just have to look toward your career, or your job, either. You can have hobbies that turn into careers. You can work on a second or replacement career at home. I've been working on replacing my IT job with a writing career for several years now and have made very good progress. Not enough yet to actually switch careers, but it takes time, and a lot of effort to switch careers, as well as not giving up, and knowing when to give up, or change tactics.

I was a Tech Writer back in the 90s but got tired of it and moved more into the technical side of production web / internet support. Now I'm ready to just write fiction and screenplays which I find more challenging and rewarding. My orientation has changed and so I'm pursuing it. I don't commute anymore which saves me four hours a day there, but even when I did, I would write on the bus, on the ferry and at lunch times; then on the way home in reverse fashion. I admit sometimes I'd just talk with friends on the commute, as we need sometimes need to decompress, and take time for fun and friends. But that too is a useful networking opportunity. And I always knew that options and extra time were available to me and I made use of it. After a while it wasn't even a conscious thing, but always there in the back of my mind. And in reverse, I am always looking for how to help someone out in this area if I had any knowledge or leverage that might be helpful for a deserving friend or even, an acquaintance.

There is a lot you can do, now. If you watch TV all the time for instance, watch less, or none and work on something that can change your life for the better for you. Especially if you live alone, or are a bit of an introvert, use your time for something that can change your life. If you have a family, that can take up a lot of time, so get up early (if you even can) or carve out just thirty to sixty minutes a day for this. It's amazing what even thirty minutes a day can achieve.

Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain worked a merciless and thankless job for decades in hot kitchens In Europe and America until one day while working in a Manhattan restaurant, he decided he had a story he wanted to tell and started getting up an hour or half hour early to write. He'd force himself to get up as early as he could force himself that day after working late and maybe drinking after. He wrote a really great little book that changed his life, Kitchen Confidential, which also changed how the world looks at commercial kitchens. He didn't even think he could write or that anyone outside of the city of New York would care to buy it, yet it make him world famous.

Another example was just the other day on a cable show, "House of Lies". The character, Jeannie Van Der Hooven, played by the very fun, Kristen Bell, gives a freshman employee advice from her veteran point of view. Having found the employee reading a novel at lunch time for fun, when the employee asked for advice in how to be like her, she advised her that if the younger employee wanted to gain the status she has now, the way that she got that status was in not reading for fun, in making all of her spare time instead devoted to furthering her work goals, to learn all she can in every second of the day. Focusing. Learning. Making every breathe oriented toward her goals.

I did the same thing in getting my university degree. When I graduated High School I never wanted to go to school again, I hated school. After I got out of the military, they made me realize that I was better than that and that I could achieve anything I put my mind to. And so I did. I found ways around things that hampered me in my focus and direction, I made my failings into successes, or found ways around impediments caused by those things.

So just don't feel like you are stuck in the same, low paying (or even high paying if you're dissatisfied) position forever. Go out (and also don't go out, stay in if that's what  you need to do) and make use of your spare time and resources to find that perfect position out in the world; or perhaps even at your own company.

And all the best to you! Carpe Diem! That literally that means "pluck the day", but it's generally accepted as meaning, seize the day. It also refers to, however, "the enjoyment of the pleasures of the moment without concern for the future", and that's another way to look at it. Make making your life better an enjoyment, and a thrill. Hey, whatever it takes to--

Seize the day!

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