the following tips, learned from the school of hard knocks, can be useful:
1. Know the difference between a job and a career:
A job is simply something you do to earn money. It is an 8 to 5 paid activity, five or six days a week, with paychecks in between. No sweat.
It is simply a kind of “I just work here,” existence.
A career is a series of connected work activities that you do, acquiring skills and knowledge along the way, with the purpose of moving up to higher paying, higher responsibility positions in the future. Your progression may be with the same company of with another.
People who want to build careers usually go high and far in the organization. Those who just want to do their jobs will coast along until gracefully or unceremoniously eased out of the payroll
2. Build work experience:
By work experience is meant the accumulated knowledge, skills and self-confidence built over the years, not the same knowledge, skills and level of confidence repeated over the years.
It is seniority expressed in wisdom, not in age. A lot of working people cling to the belief that age seniority will matter much in organizational development. It will if nothing else matters. But in vying for a coveted position, a dynamic candidate will always win over one with a static experience.
3. Fit into the organizational culture:
Organizations, regardless of size, always develop their own unique cultures. This would not be a problem if you came on board at a time when it is still evolving. Once it is set, adjusting to it may be difficult for those joining later.
Many guys who joined us, from companies with cultures different than ours, rarely stayed long enough to finish their probationary periods.
Achieving organizational fit requires personal re-engineering which people with significant experiences are not always willing to do. Rather than be an odd-man, they leave.
4. Learn to manage your boss:
This is one of the most common career mistakes people commit. They take this as boot-licking or playing politics.
Managing your boss is none of those. It is anticipating the needs of your boss so he can perform his job effectively. If you can do his job well, you can do yours just as well. It is a matter of effective and productive co-existence.
Besides, if you expect your subordinates to feed you good information so you can make better decisions, why would you feel squeamish about doing the same with your boss?
5. Be honest:
Nothing beats honesty in everything you do. It is crucial in building a career.
I had an associate who was of unbeatable stellar qualities. He can whip his subordinates into a formidable work force and he can make his boss virtually eat from the palm of hand.
But he was a congenital cheat. He rose to management level in every job he had, He was also booted out for dishonesty and exploitation in each. He was never out of a job but he could not keep any.
Early this year, he died from cardiac arrest with none of his former associates visiting his wake.
6. Don’t be lazy:
Laziness can cover a very wide spectrum, i.e., excessive tardiness and absences, late in meetings and submitting lousy reports, in your appearance, reluctance to render extra hours if needed, unwilling to take on new assignments or learn something new, and many others..
I have worked with so many of them, and terminated quite a lot, too.
7. Learn from your mistakes
We had a three-point rule about mistakes in the company I retired from.
First – it’s normal. We all make mistakes;
Second (of the same kind) – that’s carelessness. You should not do it again;
Third (of the same kind) – that’s stupidity and you should start considering your long-term prospects In the company.
We all make mistakes. Some do not do much damage save for a bruised ego or embarrassment. Others need a lot of explaining to do. Serious mistakes can result to outright termination.
Habitual mistakes can be signs of character flaws or symptoms of either or all of the above.
Strangely, studies have shown that some people just don’t learn from their mistakes. These studies show a very good connection between a person’s difficulty in learning something new and his ability to learn from his mistakes.
Approximately 35% of Americans of working age are employed. There are no figures showing how many are simply working or pursuing careers. If we apply the unerring Pareto principle, it would be safe to say that only 20% are pursuing careers and from that, 20% are having lucrative careers for not having made 80% of the common errors that can undo successful careers.