When the Holiday's over, How to Improve your Career

Posted by martin.parnell |

During the Summer months, many people take their annual vacation. Hopefully, it’s a time to relax and forget, at least for a while, about the pressures of work. However, sooner or later, the time comes when they have to think about returning to their job. 

For some it’s a time to go back to a routine they enjoy, a job that gives them satisfaction and a good salary. However, that’s not the situation for everyone. Others may dread going back to what they may consider a grind. Whichever of those categories you fall into, why not give some thought to just how you regard your work situation and perhaps ways in which you can improve it? 

I was thinking of reasons as to why it’s worth making an evaluation and actions that might be taken to make improvements, when I heard an item on Sunday’s Daybreak Alberta, with Russell Bowers, on CBC radio. A guest speaker was talking about the issue many people face of living pay check to pay check and she suggested ways in which they might look to earn more and have the opportunity to save, either for a rainy day or their future. 

Two of the ideas she shared were: 

“Update your skills” – is there a course you could take that would bring you more up-to-date in your field. This may apply to the technology being used in your workplace. Does your company offer extra training? 

“Are you being paid fairly?” – Take a look at what other companies are paying their workers who do the same job as you. 

For a more comprehensive look at this issue, I’d like to share this post from July 12th. 2017, on the FORBES website, by contributor, Liz Frazier, entitled  9 Simple Ways To Make More Money In Your Current Job, in which she gave the following advice: 

Ask for a raise - Don't wait until your boss offers more money, because that may never happen. Be prepared and show them your specific achievements.  Research comparable salaries and give them a specific number. It should be on the high end of the range so you have room to negotiate, but not unrealistic. The worst they can do is say no. If they do say no, ask them for the specific goals needed for you to qualify for a raise. 

Ask for a promotion - If there is an opening, be prepared to show you are qualified for it with your resume and accomplishments as it pertains to the new role. If there is not a specific role, show your ambition and loyalty to the company by creating a new role and present it to your boss. Make sure the discussion is open and straightforward. You need to communicate that you want to grow with your company, are a valuable and engaged employee and are ready for the next step. However, make sure you treat this as a two-way conversation. Present your ideas, then ask for feedback. If your idea isn't accepted, ask for suggestions on other possible career opportunities. 

Continue your education - Always look for ways to improve your set of skills or learn new ones. This can be an evening or online graduate course, industry webinars, a new certification or additional training. Ask your manager and colleagues for suggestions. 

Build relationships, in and out of your department - This is a good practice in general. If you want to move up and / or make more money, you need cheerleaders. When asking for reports from accounting or materials from marketing - walk over and ask them (if possible). It's easier to build a relationship by putting a face to the name. Treat everyone in your company (and in your life!) with respect: from the CEO to your assistant. By building relationships and a good reputation across your company, not only do you create support for roles you seek out, but it may open up opportunities in other departments down the road. 

Make yourself indispensable - I do not necessarily mean take on extra work. I mean make yourself indispensable through your character and hard work. Be honest, helpful, adaptable and positive. You will become indispensable simply because your colleagues and management will want to work with you. 

Put yourself out there - Opportunities are not going to walk into your office. You have to be out there to find them. Even the most social of us sometimes dread the company picnic or the awkward 3rd floor birthday celebration. I get it, but these are the times when you meet people in other departments and hear company chatter; not just who is secretly dating, but projects and opportunities you may not hear about otherwise. There are opportunities everywhere, but you have to be present and available for them. 

Push yourself before you're ready - One of my favorite quotes (think I've already used in several articles...but it's that good!) is from Richard Branson. "If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you're not sure you can do it, say yes - then learn how to do it later!" Nuff' said. 

Have a Plan B - If you are 100% dependent on a job, with no other options, you may accept less than you deserve because you are scared to lose it. Keep informed on industry trends, opportunities with other companies and business opportunities. Get additional training and education, even if not needed in your current role. Most important, keep a strong database of past colleagues and business partners across the industry, who can provide insights and opportunities. 

Switch jobs – One of the most effective ways to increase your salary is by getting a new job. If you stay at a company, you start at a base salary, and every raise is a % of that base - employees who stay in one job can expect about a 3% yearly salary increase. Switching to a new job allows you to start new and renegotiate a higher base – on average those switching jobs will receive 10 – 20% increase. 

Of course, it’s not just about the money. You may be in a situation where you are happy with the pay you are receiving, but your working conditions are not great. 

That’s a topic I will address in my next blog – watch this space!

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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