3 Key Skills to Boost Your Career and Personal Satisfaction December 16, 2016
Many people are unhappy because they’re in the wrong job.
It’s difficult to shrug off your work problems and stay detached when your job situation undermines your financial stability, your personal relationships, your sense of purpose, and your self-esteem.
Maybe you’re worried that you may never be able to afford your own house, your dream car, the best education for your children.
You genuinely want to shine and make a difference, but others at work shut your good ideas down because you don’t have a title.
You’re disappointing your parents or your significant others.
Or just disappointing yourself.
Your current situation may not be all you’ve ever dreamed of. I know because I’ve felt that many times myself: I’ve felt that I was not living the life that my younger self was so sure I would live. I blamed myself and felt ashamed in front of those who supported me.
But let me assure you: hard work does indeed pay off, if it’s channeled in the right direction. Below are 3 key skills to master to set your career up for success. Work at them every day, and your career will improve faster than you ever imagined…
1. Become slick at job hunting and interviewing
Many people I’ve coached were initially complaining that they were applying to jobs, but getting few interviews and zero job offers. So I asked them how many jobs they had applied to in the past month, how they had applied to them, and what they said during the interviews. Typical answer:
“I’ve applied to 3 companies in the past month, sent them my generic CV on LinkedIn, and during the interview I told them I’ll be great at whatever they make me do.”
Ok. Try to apply to 3 companies A DAY, personalise your CV and add a personalised Cover Letter, and prepare before interviews to provide past examples that are relevant to the position and the company at hand. I bet you you’ll have a new job within a month.
I hear you, that sounds like a large time investment and you’d rather keep sending a generic CV out on the day when you feel most motivated. I understand, but this “deliberately lazy” approach won’t get you to work for those dream Companies that give you free food, on site massages, awesome health and parental benefits, etc. And if you don’t work harder to stand out, nobody will offer you a Role where people will follow your directions and where your decisions will shape things.
So you’ll want to become disciplined in your approach and diligent about preparation. This way, your CV and LinkedIn profile will show that you’ve worked for a Company or covered a Role that everyone will admire and that will have potential future employers come knocking at your door. Not to mention offering you a 6-figure salary, or more…
2. Gain visibility inside and outside of your company
Of course, looking for jobs outside your current company isn’t the only way to boost your career. They say that company-hopping is the quicker way to increase your salary, while being promoted from within is the fastest way to improve your role and status, i.e. get an important-sounding title or the authority to manage a team. There is no hard and fast rule: I’ve seen these principles apply, just as often as I’ve seen people improve their salary without changing companies, or getting greater titles from new employers. Your personal situation will tell you whether you’re better off pursuing your current goals within your existing company, or whether it’s time to move onto pastures new. Hence why you’ll want to master both internal and external networking.
Internal networking starts from your daily interactions with peers and managers. You want to be known for your positive attitude and for keeping your word. Also, you should take every opportunity to jump on high visibility projects, especially those that let you collaborate with many people across multiple teams.
External networking includes going to events (as an organiser or a delegate) and speaking with people there: don’t be shy, they’re all on the same boat as you, feeling like they’re supposed to do small talk but being afraid of coming across as big phonies. Be yourself and you’ll get along just fine. Social networking is also very important, so make sure your profile is slick and up to date, and add everyone you ever met on LinkedIn -the bulk email import function can help you quickly do this for past contacts, but keep up from today, alright? You may start gaining external status by publishing articles in your personal blog or on behalf of your company. Later, that could evolve into speaking engagements or invitations to award ceremonies and gala dinners.
3. Find your Calling
If you don’t love something, you’ll never be terribly successful at it. No matter how much you think a job is “easy money”, it will always take much longer to make you the big bucks, and it will be much tougher than you anticipated. So if you don’t enjoy your job on a good day, it will be unbearable when you have to put up with sh*t on the numerous bad days, weeks and months. Maybe you’ll even burn out and quit, and waste all the years you’ve invested.
There is no such thing as a safe choice, either, in case you’re feeling responsible and think it’s best to give your dreams up in order to ensure that your children always have food on the table and get a good education. It’s a noble goal and I completely share it, don’t get me wrong. Famed comedian Jim Carrey gave everybody goosebumps with his poignant commencement speech at Maharishi University of Management’s class of 2014. The actor regaled the story of his father, who could’ve been a great comedian, but decided to be sensible and take a “safe” accounting job to provide for his family. He ended up being laid off and plunged into financial hardship. Carrey concluded that “you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”