Three career tips we can all learn from

A wee break from travel talk today….

The prospect of rejoining the real (working) world this month has me mulling over career, personal development, and other such big picture things.

Funnily enough, I happened to click into this Billfold interview with a digital analyst, which offers a ton of nuggets that all of us could learn from, regardless of industry. Here’s the three most important points I took away from it:

Know when to say yes … and when to quit

She says: “I call it punching above your weight class, and it happens when you keep showing up and enough people like what you do that they keep asking you to do it in more and more senior places. For a company, that’s what you want, because you have someone young and excited to do the work…and you don’t have to pay them much … And the truth of the matter is that if you punch above your weight class they’re never going to promote you to what you’re worth. Because they know they can throw you little bits. They will always get more out of you than you are being compensated for. It’s the way of the world. I’m not saying I have a problem with it. But it got me thinking about what I wanted to do.”

My takeaway: Say yes. Take on more responsibilities, more projects. Rack up as much experience as you can, and when you can no longer get ahead to where you want to be, move on and parlay that experience into a new and better job.

The 80/20 rule

She says: “My theory is that 20% of every job is shit. Not to say that you can only be 80% happy, but you will always have status meetings and timesheets and things that are not fun for you. But if, on four out of five days per week you aren’t doing things like that, that’s pretty good. So I tried to tell myself that on good days—when I started looking for a new job, I said to myself, “What did I do today that made me happy? How can I do that?”

My takeaway: I firmly believe that even ‘dream jobs’ have their mundanities, and thinking anything else is naive. It’s about overall balance; when you’re miserable more often than not, that’s when you need to reconsider.

You need a champion – not just a mentor

She says: “Ten months. I got promoted out of cycle, which was really amazing. My boss led it, and the moral of that story is to find someone who will fight for you. It’s the Sheryl Sandberg thing—you don’t just need mentors; you need champions as well. I had a boss who was getting on people’s cases, saying, “I want to hire this person.” “I want to promote this person.” “I want her to work on these projects. I don’t want her to have to work on these other things.” Chances are you’re not going to get that relationship, but look for it, and look for opportunities to turn a relationship into that sort of relationship. You’ll know it when you see it.”

My takeaway: Advice is one thing; someone who knows your capabilities, believes in your potential, and will go to bat for you is another. And this is why clicking with your boss is more important than I ever thought. I’ll never forget my first boss, who did exactly this for me, unprompted.

9 thoughts on “Three career tips we can all learn from

  • Reply Manda November 1, 2013 at 08:17

    100% agree about finding someone who will go to bat for you. That kind of support is invaluable, incredibly hard to find, and makes all of the difference.

  • Reply Meghan November 1, 2013 at 16:54

    Great post, and so true! My job was more than 20% shit, but my champion just hooked me up with a project on a team with her. It wasn’t an easy feat – we aren’t even in the same division! I always call her my guardian angel, and she is!

  • Reply Brian November 2, 2013 at 11:05

    I am lucky to have a champion and a mentor. I also got promoted out of cycle soon after my new boss/champion started working with me and she’s been a great role model for the last few years. So important!

  • Reply Deia @NomadWallet November 3, 2013 at 22:05

    That’s right, you’re almost at the end of your RTW trip. Great timing, you’ll be home in time for the holidays. And it’s summer there, too. I look forward to reading about your job search and wish you all the best! 🙂

  • Reply Michelle November 4, 2013 at 12:12

    Having a champion is HUGE! I didn’t for a long time at my job so it made no difference what I did. The “gate keepers” always will block you from what you’re aiming for if it’s not in their best interest. I finally had a champion and they were able to open the doors that the other people were blocking. It has made a HUGE difference to my career. You do have to find your own “power” at work though. This one is hard!

  • Reply Untemplater November 4, 2013 at 19:22

    I agree that having a good relationship with your boss makes a world of difference. My boss is easy to get along with and has been helping me a lot lately. But I also know when he’s in one of his moods and doesn’t want to be bothered, so I keep my distance at those times!

  • Reply MakintheBacon November 5, 2013 at 03:41

    I probably have the best relationship I’ve ever had with a boss, with my current boss right now. He’s very easy to talk to, will listen to my concerns and offer suggestions on how to further develop my career path.

  • Reply Connie @ Savvy With Saving November 5, 2013 at 04:24

    Great post! I agree that every job has some aspects that suck. However, in my current job, I think I’m at 20/80, 20% happy, 80% shit. I try to look at the positive side (good pay, great benefits) but at the end of the day, this job really isn’t for me. I’ll eventually move on when the time is right.

  • Reply Updates: Oct 26 – Nov 1 | The Outlier Model January 18, 2014 at 08:14

    […] NZ Muse shares some career tips. […]

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