10 Ways to Kick Start Your Career

grumpyLooking for new ways to manage your career? I once read a great post on New Year’s resolutions, but found that they were the perfect prescription for anyone, who wanted to up their game at work. “Ten Career Resolutions” by Dan Miller, Monster Staff Writer, lists 10 ways to kick-starting your career. Below are Miller’s ideas with my additional commentary:

  1. Pay Attention in Class: “Treat every workday like a school day. Be sure you learn something and use it to make yourself more productive.” I loved managing people who were interested in learning more skills. They were thorough and asked insightful questions, wanting to know why I would do X, or why did I choose Y. Curiosity is not only good for the soul, but also good for your skills set and your resume.
  2. Look for the Next Rung: “You need to excel at your job. This is how you gain credibility.” Exercise caution with this one. Sometimes we get so preoccupied with the next job that we forget our present one. Can you be in the moment and look to the future? Not really, but just make sure you’re effective in the moment as you figure out the next job.
  3. Understand Company Goals: “Make sure you understand how your job contributes to your company’s business objectives.” One word “alignment.” Hopefully, your boss has communicated the company goals, your department’s goals, and your goals. If not, then ask with the assurance that you want to make sure that you’re supporting the company’s goals and objectives. I’m always surprised when employees don’t know the goals and objectives. Sometimes supervisors are so busy with their boss and peers that they often forget to communicate them. So, it’s up to you to align yourself when this happens.
  4. Be Ethical: “Bring integrity to your job. Whether you’re running the company or cleaning its bathrooms, be honest in all you do.”
  5. Stay Fit: “OK, this was probably on your last New Year’s resolutions list, but that’s because it’s so important.” If you are like me (or like I used to be, stuck in a commute 12-15 hours be per week), then you have to carve out time for exercise. I’ve had several bosses who were runners and weight lifted. Each boss had an enormous amount of energy, managing their stress and health with exercise. If it works for C-levels, then why can’t it work for you?
  6. Stretch Your Role: “Occasionally think how you can go above and beyond. Are there projects outside your defined role you could help with?” This is a great idea, but make sure that your boss is on board with it. As long as the side projects don’t get in the way with scheduled deliverables, then I’m sure your boss will be glad to help you out.
  7. Manage Up: “Make sure you and your manager are in firm agreement on what you’re doing. Be proactive and get on his calendar to ensure you’re meeting or exceeding expectations.” Sometimes managers assume you know what you’re doing. However, you should still check in from time to time, in case you don’t have much face time with your boss, to make sure you’re working on the right deliverables. If you’re having trouble, then make sure you get some 1-on-1 time with your boss. Trust me; they’ll appreciate your proactiveness on course correcting yourself.
  8. Manage Across: “Even if you work primarily alone, be sure to make time to understand your peers’ roles and how they go about their jobs.” Cross-functional dependencies are a fact of life now. It’s a great idea to make sure you know and understand your peer’s job functions. They may depend on you up or down stream or visa versa. By helping them be successful, you’ll be successful.
  9. Communicate: “Don’t leave people waiting for answers. If you’re in an email environment, return emails promptly.” Nothing is more annoying than being blown off in email. Prompt replies not only get out emails of your Inbox, but also saves you time in the long run. You don’t have to go through old emails as you try to remember what action or reply you need to take. Save yourself time and trouble by communicating sooner versus later.
  10. Make Time for Play: “Have fun. Work hard, but smile while you’re doing it. No one likes a grump.” Except other grumps or Grumpy.

Miller list is perfect for knowledge workers who don’t want to change jobs, but get more out of their present ones.

Smart Lemming tip: sit, think, and reflect on how you can make your job and career more interesting this year.