There is a lot to be said about the job market over the past year: while it hasn’t exactly been a booming seeker’s market, it hasn’t been as stark as some statistics suggest. Firstly, official figures suggest that unemployment is on the decline. Secondly, if you keep an eye on job boards – the numbers there are creeping up, slowly stacking in the seekers’ favour. Finally, LinkedIn has aggressively entered the job board market over the past year, offering a powerful peer-to-peer recruitment that seems to be taking care of professional unemployment in a hitch.
Yet, people are still concerned about leaving a place of work because of the economy. I can’t say I blame them. The market is uncertain and – at present – very much an employer’s market. Employers can still afford to be picky about who they hire.
There is nothing wrong about staying put. The only thing is – you need to make sure that you do not stagnate. Not only is it not particularly good for your own wellbeing, happiness and productivity, it’s also very (very) bad for your CV – as and when you choose to dust it and look for better pastures.
So – what can you do to get a leg up without moving? A blog on HBR listed some tips collected from executives. Here are some tips that would (perhaps) make more sense to a broader population (students, operatives, workaholics, part-timers and more):
1. Get clear on your aspirations
Think about the types of jobs that are available for you where you work and in other places. Spend time clarifying why it is you want to do these jobs? What will it give you? Intellectual gratification? Prestige? Excellence conditions? Nice office? A car? Make sure you keep a list of the reasons as well as the jobs themselves. This blueprint will come in handy later.
2. Understand skills and capability
Got some target roles? Fantastic. Now make sure you understand the skills and capabilities they demand and map the gaps between where you are now and where you need to be. Be honest.
Now spend a bit of time to see what sort of training or experiences can gain you those skills. Some may be available where you work (not only training, think secondments, shadowing, volunteering for projects outside your immediate role); some may be available outside (charities, local colleges, universities, professional bodies, charted institutes, etc.).
3. Make time and use it wisely
Stop working stupid hours because everyone else does the same. Work less hours and make better use of them – be more productive in less time. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. The skill in itself (time management) is worth the effort. You then get the added bonus: more time.
Use the time you freed up: get a hobby. Or volunteer. Or study. It doesn’t have to relate to your job. Sometimes it’s better if it’s not. These will develop your sense of Mastery which is not only known to increasing confidence, but also contributes to overall sense of achievement. It will, in turn, make you more productive. (That’s why so many so-called forward thinking companies allow their employees up to 20% of their time to develop non-work-related projects).
4. Ask to be involved
Ask for a secondment in another department, even if it isn’t something that you would consider a comfort zone. Ask to shadow someone in a role you find interesting – or better yet – ask to shadow someone that works with that role. You will have a better vantage point. Ask to join a new project in some capacity, even if it feels like a step backwards, just to be exposed to a different environment.
These will give you a new perspective about your organisation. They also give you the opportunity to be helpful and to network across the organisation.
5. Don’t be shy come appraisal time
It’s easy to leave appraisal by the wayside as painful process we go through twice a year to tick a box or to get lined up for a bonus. They can do more for you than you care to imagine, but you need to care to imagine.
Use the blueprint you’ve created in tip #1 and the knowledge you’ve gained in tip #2. Be explicit in your appraisal that these are things you are after and you would like to work with your managers to achieve them. If you can demonstrate you’ve already started in your own time – even better.
Get your managers’ endorsement to your endeavours and they will be willing to help achieve and grow even further.
What do you think? Can you grow within your job? Comment below!
If you would like more advice and guidance about your career, get in touch.
Photo credit to bjearwicke via sxc.hu.