How to Make Any Job Better
By Susan Johnston
Not everyone is in a position to switch jobs. Maybe you’re in an industry where staffing is still tight. Or maybe you just started a new job, and you’d like to put in a few years before moving on. Whatever the case, here are some tips on how to make any job better without giving it a major overhaul.
We asked several experts for their tips on giving yourself a mini career makeover.
- Improve relations with your boss.
Your direct supervisor is one of the most important people in your professional life. But sometimes that relationship feels strained. Get back into his or her good graces by observing them in action and figuring out what makes them tick, suggests Katherine Reynolds Lewis, a workplace journalist for About.com and The Fiscal Times. “So often managers have so little time to do the management so you have to have manage up,” she says. Ask them if you can schedule a weekly check-in meeting. Or if they’re more spontaneous, strike up a conversation and subtly work in your latest accomplishments. “Don’t assume that your boss knows when you’ve done a great job,” urges Lewis.
- Beat procrastination or lateness.
If you’re someone who struggles with tardiness or procrastination, then Victoria Ashford, Fearless Career coach, suggests owning up to the weakness and enlisting coworkers to help you stay accountable. “The biggest hindrance is not having a good support system,” she explains. “Tell people, ‘This is a problem for me’ and get them to share their techniques.” Understanding the consequences can also help. “If you’re not there on time, the door gets closed for a meeting,” says Ashford, “and the embarrassment of you peeking through the glass reinforces the need to be on time.”
- Set goals for yourself.
So many workers focus on slogging through the workday that they forget to set goals. But Steve Frank, a Personal & Business Motivation, says it’s important to set goals and write them down. “Then break your goals down into smaller goals so you have things to celebrate along the way,” he adds. If you work in HR and your goal is to reduce turnover by 30%, then first think about how you can reduce it by 10% or 15%, and reward yourself for hitting those milestones.
- Tackle new projects.
“This is a great time to create a new job within your job,” says Ashford. Volunteer for the task no one else wants. Suggest a new project that you can spearhead to boost your skill set. Look for ways to save your company money. “If you can find a way to copy paper cheaper, you’re gonna be the shining star,” adds Ashford. Making yourself indispensible helps solidify your position within the company and ensure that you’ll have strong references when it’s time to move on.
- Polish your resume … just in case.
Ideally, you’d update your resume even when you aren’t actively job-hunting. However, as Lewis says, “Polishing your resume shouldn’t be about moving words around on paper. It’s about getting things on your resume that will get you to that next level. Working in the fonts and formatting can be an excuse to procrastinate.”
Boston-based freelance writer Susan Johnston has covered career and business topics for "The Boston Globe," "Hispanic Executive Quarterly," WomenEntrepreneur.com, and other publications.
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