These simple tasks can keep you on track in your career.
Four Things You Can Do When Your Job is Going Well
Sometimes everything in your job is going well – you feel engaged, your workplace is pleasant and you can see opportunities for advancement. This is a good thing, and what a career counselor loves to hear!
Even in the face of job satisfaction, it’s important to do what I call “ongoing career maintenance,” or little things you can do to keep yourself primed and ready should you find yourself wanting a change, or find yourself suddenly unemployed.
1 – Keep track of your successes.
I can say with near 100% certainty that any interview you go to will involve asking about your past successes, accomplishments, etc. But when we’re actually performing the duties of our jobs, sometimes it’s hard to be objective enough and take enough credit for the work we do to even recognize all of our successes.
I recommend you keep a journal of your successes. This can be daily, weekly, or monthly, but it needs to be regular enough so that it records a broad enough selection of successes that you can call on specific ones in the future when you need them.
As you’re writing down your successes, be specific about what you did, and think about how you might retell them in the behavioral interviewing STAR format – Situation, Task, Action, Result. We’ll get into STAR more in another post, but the basics are: thinking about what the Situation was, what the Task or goal of the project/issue was, what Action you did to work towards achieving that goal, and what the Result was!
2 – Connect meaningfully with other professionals.
One of the best times to network with people in your field or adjacent fields is when you already have a job! This is the time to build relationships with people in other departments, at other companies, and even in your neighborhood. I’ve found that people feel less “icky” about networking when they’re not actively job-searching. That said, if you regularly practice making connections when you have a job, it’ll be a lot easier to call on that skill when you are looking for a new job!
This can involve connecting to other professionals on LinkedIn (you do have a LinkedIn profile, right?), participating in online discussions in your area of expertise, joining professional organizations, or local networking events and conferences in your field.
3 – Document and check in on your goals.
How will you know if you’re achieving what you want at your job if you don’t know what your goals are? I often recommend this simple process, which only requires checking in every six months, and asks you to track the activities and habits that will help you achieve those goals.
First, come up with goals – for example, ones that would elevate your skills at your current job and that could potentially get you into another job, and that you think can be achieved within a 6-24 month timeframe. These can be as small as “learn how to use the new order management system,” or as big as “move up to District Manager from Assistant Manager.”
Under those goals, write down the specific activities that need to happen for you to achieve those goals. For the order management system example above, you could write “ask Claudia in A/R to spend some time demonstrating the new system for me.”
In addition to the activities, keep track of the habits that will support achieving those goals. These are a bit like activities that need to happen more than once, and with some consistency. Habits can often be difficult to maintain, but they’re the cornerstone of working towards goals. Using the District Manager example from above, a habit could be “track weekly efficiency data on my team, to ultimately present to the CEO with suggestions about improving performance.”
Every six months check in on these goals, whether you’ve completed your activities, and whether you’ve practiced the habits. If not, ask yourself if those goals are still important to you, and if so, think about what barriers have prevented you from taking action or practicing the habits.
4 – Read this book!
There’s a really wonderful book about getting ahead at your current job, called “Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn’t, and Why,” by Donald Asher. It discusses many of the approaches one can take to get ahead. Among other great advice, it indirectly touches on a theory of John Krumboltz’s called “planned happenstance,” or the idea that in our careers we should be prepared for good and bad things to happen by chance, and that if we’re prepared to capture those opportunities when they arise, we stand to benefit.
Could Career Counseling Help?
If you’re having trouble setting or attaining goals, unsure of how to get started networking, can’t seem to identify any of your successes, or if you just don’t have a good metric for how your job is going, come on in for some career counseling and we can examine any barriers you’re facing and come up with an action-oriented plan that focuses on your strengths and opportunities for growth. Click here to schedule an appointment today!