About a year ago I read a blog post by my friend that gave me a huge nudge towards a better career path. In the end I followed the advice of this blog post, even refined it, and was promoted. Before I give you the three biggest tips of your career, let me give you some background about me and my attitude towards the workplace.
I grew up in a time and place where the sky was the proverbial limit. In school we were taught that we could achieve anything, as long as we were educated. At home, my parents often spoke of the many times they were rejected by Soviet colleges for being Christians. They spoke of college as the golden gateway to universal success. I went to college, three times. I received an AA degree right before turning 20, thinking I was going to be a nurse, but changed my mind and went to work at a local hospital. I worked there, pushing beds with patients to radiology, for a little over a year, but it was not a job with a future. I became friends with the nuclear medicine tech’s, who were the highest paid in that whole department, and decided to become one of them. I applied, and even though didn’t have the required Bachelor’s degree, was granted admission into Nuclear Medicine Tech school. I studied for two years and received my nuclear medicine license.
For many months I applied to every single nucmed job opening I could find, but ahead of me were all my fellow students, and ahead of them, all the laid off techs from other hospitals. It was a disaster, that was even noted by the Journal of NucMed in an article, appropriately titled, “Where are all the jobs?” I spent half a year pouring over forums where others shared my pain. For a year and a half I worked part time at a friend’s home remodeling store, went to the UW in the mornings to finish my third degree(a BA), and applied to every job I could find. I eventually broadened my search and started applying to all kinds of jobs. I finally got my break when a friend called me with a job opportunity at his office. I applied, and because of his help, got my first real, full time, office job, doing medical insurance case management and paperwork with Medicaid clients. The first thing I learned was that the value of networking far exceeds the value of degrees. I had come to the workplace thinking it was what the colleges sold me, a harvest full of jobs. Instead it was a “dog-eat-dog” world, that ran on friendship and networking, not aptitude and skill. I entered this workplace with a very depressed attitude, where my every attempt at everything had failed, so when I got my job I quietly did my work, wanted to move up, but never made any steps in that direction. And then I learned how. And now you can too.
1. Prepare by doing the basics very well
You were hired to do a job. Work the heck out of that job. Do exactly what you were hired to do, and do it better than everyone. Even if and when it’s not something that shines brightly and gets you noticed, like printing and stapling packets of forms. If you fail at something you were hired to do, you will get “negative points” towards your name. Your bosses will remember you as “the employee who failed.” You don’t want that. So do everything you can to look professional, presentable, and proper. That includes coming to work on time and doing all the work you need to do in the best way possible. It also includes creating a good working relationship with everyone in our office or workplace, especially the leadership, as much as possible.
2. Prove you deserve it by overachieving
The above step will give your superiors some general good vibe about you, they will see that you are reliable and professional, but it won’t make you shine. Just doing the basics alone is not enough to show that you can handle something more. To be promoted above your paygrade, you have to do something beyond your paygrade. I did my work very well for well over a year, but it wasn’t until I started doing more than my work that I was noticed. We were in a period of transition, and many of the things we did were not written down, so I set out to create a staff manual with departmental workflows. I also volunteered to help solve issues with my supervisor and manager. Instead of just doing my grunt work, I began to offer myself to help others streamline and expedite their work. You need to show you are capable of doing other things than what you are currently doing, so your aptitude will not be defined by your current tasks.
3. First ask about it and then for it
Yet it was asking about a promotion that caused the wall to come crumbling. I had read Bogdans blog, especially how he simply kept asking for a promotion, I read hundreds of others as well, and began to implement what I learned. I sat down with my manager to discuss “my career goals.” At first I asked for advice, in a later meeting I asked for a promotion. At the same time, I asked another coworker, from a different department about their work and told her I was interested. A little later there was some resistance, wherein my manager stated she was having trouble creating a new leadership position for me, but then the other coworker reached out to me with a job offer. Now here I am learning to code SQL. Here is the biggest factor to getting me here, I started asking. To be promoted you need to ask. This is the most important thing. If you are still new and don’t have many achievements, start by telling your boss that you eventually want to be promoted to or do “_______,” and ask them for advice to help you get there. Once you have done step 1 and 2, followed their advice, schedule a meeting, and ask for it. Tell them it would be a very rewarding job and you want it. If they say no, ask them what you can do to prepare for it, do what they say and come back again when you are ready.