Whether you are stuck in a career you hate, or just starting out with starry eyed enthusiasm, you are sure to come across at least one of the following tips to resonate with where you currently find yourself in your career:
- If you can’t study straight away, take a job (any job)
If you can’t attend a tertiary institution, say because of financial constraints, why not consider starting your studies through correspondence and taking a job so that you can study while you work?
Even it means you will be stapling documents or running the errands nobody else has the time for, take that job that comes your way! Number one, you just can’t afford to be picky in the current economic landscape. Number two (and more importantly) you will gain valuable life experience that will give you a competitive edge over other graduates when you eventually do qualify. And if you prove yourself as a hard worker, you may even progressively grow your career at the same company you started out in.
Check out these success stories for some inspiration.
- Take that “boring” job offer
Having studied a BA in Marketing Communications, a recent graduate was excited to embark on a “thrilling career of advertising and unmatched creativity”. Armed with naive enthusiasm and a king-of-the-world approach, imagine her dismay when the first proper job she landed was at a financial services intermediary as a Corporate Finance Assistant. Not exactly what she had been dreaming of, but taking a job in an industry that isn’t exactly in your line of sight can actually turn out in your favour.
Today that same BA graduate writes blogs for clients from a variety of industries (including financial institutions), so the background knowledge she gained as a finance assistant is still proving to be quite valuable!
Make the most of every opportunity that comes knocking.
- Appreciate a horrible boss
Ever had a micro managing boss who slammed the door in people’s faces, spent half the day on personal calls behind a closed office door and dumped you into the deep end with little or no mentorship to speak of? Leaving you to fend for yourself, which in turn caused you to make nervous mistakes (also see tip number 5) and left you working long hard hours with no extra compensation?
Did you hate every minute of it? Probably? Did you continually ask ”why me?” You bet! But we also bet it taught you how to deal with highly erratic and unreasonable personalities and how to “cut through the fluff”. An added bonus is that you will forever be able to compare difficult colleagues or clients to that manager, and find yourself thinking “this is a breeze compared to those days of anguish”.
- Appreciate a great boss
Do we really need to tell you how much you will appreciate a great boss after working for a devilish boss?
- Focus on solutions
The best thing about a great boss is that they lead from the front (as opposed to delegating from the top) and you learn a lot from watching their interactions with others (also, they tend to practice what they preach).
One of the most valuable lessons you will learn from a good manager is to be solutions driven.
It’s not terribly conducive to building employee morale when you are shouting at someone who made an honest mistake, as opposed to showing them how to deal with a similar situation going forward and learning from it. Generally, biting someone’s head off will just make them nervous about admitting mistakes, and more likely to make more.
When you focus on the problem it not only stays a problem, but it will most certainly also tend to snowball into even bigger problems.
- Double check everything (especially when you are busy)!
- Put it in writing
Follow up your phone call with a quick mail confirming what was discussed. It’s a good way to make sure that your task is documented and to cover yourself should something slip through the cracks. Unfortunately, listening is a very subjective skill, and if you don’t have that back-up mail it can often become a case of “he said, she said.”
- Maximise on office time
It’s more than ok to be a hard worker, but there is a fine line between being productive and over-worked. Over-worked people are no joy to be around and often lack inspiration, simply because they have no balance between the time they spend at the office and their personal lives. Find ways to work smarter not longer!
Here are four simple but effective tips that really make a huge difference:
- use 20 minutes every day (either early in the morning or just before clocking out) to get your admin up to date to keep you from lagging behind and ending up with a huge pile of it;
• keep a “to do” list (prioritise daily);
• take your lunch outside the office – even if it means taking a brisk 10-minute walk because a change of scenery can do wonders for a stale mind; and
• find ways to be productive when you are not that busy (create admin tools, read up on important industry news, clear your desk).
- Don’t assume. When in doubt, ask!
And VERY importantly…
- Be respectful. Always
Remember that the guy you feel like being rude to today, might be your potential client, customer or colleague tomorrow. The tea lady who clears the mugs from your cluttered desk has got just as important a role to play as the MD who meets with clients all day.
And remember: A simple “thank you” costs nothing but your time and perhaps a smile, and more often than not, common courtesy, will always be reciprocated and aids in the building of longstanding mutually beneficial professional relationships.