Category Archives: Promotions

Useful career plans

marines and airplane taking off

Which direction is your career going?

So how do you get the promotion or raise you want?

An usher at the movie theater I worked at wanted to become the lead usher.  After the movie started he would always be the first to grab a broom and start sweeping the lobby.  Once he even told me I was sweeping too early so that 30 seconds later he could grab a broom and be seen by our boss as the boy with the most initiative.  He got the job.  I got laid off.  He had a career plan at the tender age of 14. (He was also a little deceitful, which he didn’t need to be.)

A useful career plan needs to have the long term goals we talked about yesterday as well as much shorter term tactical objectives.  If your 1 year goal is to get promoted to team leader, you have to work every day at short term plans to get there.  If you want to become a partner in your firm, you have to do something different from the crowd every day.

The biggest secret to daily, weekly and monthly career plans is to set yourself up to act like you already have the job you want.  Start acting like a senior technician by getting certifications and asking your boss to allow you into design meetings. Pretty soon you’ll get the promotion.  A partner in most firms is required to be either a leader/manager or a rainmaker/salesman.  If you want to be a partner, act like one.

To start taking over the job you want, you have to have a clear idea of what the job entails.  Your first career plan should be, “I will find out what the job I want entails.”  Make sure you find out what the most successful inhabitants of your target job do. What makes the most successful people different? You should generate a weekly and monthly written plan of how you will find out more about the job you want. Put it in your job journal.

Now write a weekly and monthly plan of how to educate yourself for the job.  List the courses you can take, certifications you can get and books you can read.  Ask the people you admire for advice. The list should go in your job journal where you can add to it later.

Finally, write that weekly and monthly plan on how you will take over the job.  90% of authority is seized, 10% is granted.  Go out and take over some responsibilities.  Even if you are reprimanded for over reaching, your initiative will be noticed.  A plan written in your job journal will focus your efforts.

Remember that boy who wanted to be lead usher.  He was always the first person out in the lobby cleaning up. He wanted to show initiative.  To advance in a technical, managerial or sales position you need to show the same initiative.  You need to be the first person seen doing important jobs.  Make a plan and do it.

Something To Do Today

Just today, seize authority.  Find some important job and make yourself the custodian of that job.  Be the first to start doing it, direct how it is to be done, or ask one of your subordinates to do it.

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Next:     What is “the next big thing”?

5 steps to accelerate your job/career growth curve

motorbike-438464_640-pixabay

Now thats a job growth curve!

When I started at EDS I was learning at an incredible rate.  Pay raises came quickly and easily.  By my third year things slowed down.  By my fifth year I settled into a dreary cycle of little new personal growth and cost of living raises. I managed to get assigned to a new team using a new technology and my growth accelerated for a year, then it dropped back to the dreary level. That’s an example of my personal growth curve.

How fast you are growing to get where you want to go is your personal growth curve.  Once you stop growing you are flat-lining.  In hospitals flat-lining means there is no pulse, you are dead.  In your career, flat-lining means that your career has stopped completely and the business world is starting to pass you by.

To get growing again you need to learn, get new responsibilities and get recognized.  At EDS I volunteered and pestered my managers for the chance to use new technology.  Since no one else had a clue and I had read a couple of books on the subject, I got to become the “owner” of that technology.  Preparation and repeatedly selling myself to my managers preceded my advancement.

Whether you want to grow as a manager, salesperson or technician, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Find out what is going to be needed IN THE FUTURE
  2. Study and prepare to fill that future need
  3. Sell yourself repeatedly to get the new responsibility
  4. Excel at your new job
  5. Start over

Step 1 and 2 can always be done at your current job.  Often they will pay for the training and help mentor you.  Step 3 should be attempted with your current company. Sometimes it just can’t be done where you are.

Companies have their own growth curves.  At a company that is flat-lining, your chances to grow will be limited.  While you are preparing to grow, open your eyes.  Is your company ABLE to let you grow?  Do you need to move to a company that is changing its growth curve while you change yours?

A job change becomes a career enhancing move when you move to a company whose growth curve will allow you to accelerate your own growth curve.  If you are willing to learn and grow, you will have growth in your career.  If you are willing to change jobs when necessary to re-accelerate your career growth, your future has no limits.

Something To Do Today

What is going to be needed in the future?  What interests you?  What will help you accelerate your growth curve?

Don’t expect your boss to magically know what you fail to tell him repeatedly. Expect him not to understand.  Even if he sees you doing something new he may not recognize what it means or its usefulness unless you have told him five or six times in the last six months.

Each Friday is the time to write down what you did this week and this month in your job journal.  Give a report to your boss in a format he can use for his own reports to his boss.

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Later:

How many times have I got to tell him?

Useful career plans

What is “the next big thing”?

Career killing shortcuts

3 different ways to go now

Choose your direction carefully.

The modern age has been characterized by a Promethean spirit, a restless energy that preys on speed records and shortcuts, unmindful of the past, uncaring of the future, existing only for the moment and the quick fix. (Jeremy Rifkin)

Lufkin is the premiere maker of the pumps sucking oil from Oklahoma’s prairies. In 1981 used Lufkin pumps were selling for more than new ones. Fancy business school graduates said Lufkin was nuts. They could sell the new pumps for much more. “Take your profit now!” they said. The owners of Lufkin said, “We’ve been here a long time. Demand goes up and demand goes down. We will service our customers the best we can. We won’t take advantage of them when they are desperate. When the bubble bursts we will still be here. We’re in this business for the long haul.” Today, after decades of recessions and some good times in their business, they still make a solid profit, now as a GE subsidiary.

In the recruiting business one recruiter said, “I take people out of one rut, and put them into a different rut.” Some recruiters don’t care. I do. I find people in good jobs who could do significantly better. I then place them in a job where they can more quickly meet their career goals. I help people shave years off of their career growth. I move them into a better long term opportunity.

Be mindful of how your resume looks. People who have changed jobs 3 times in 2 years have a hard time getting a great job. Later, even after 3 or 5 years in one job their resume is tainted. The manager hiring for a great job wants someone who will be there a long time. He knows he can attract bright stable workers. Why should he settle for someone who may be gone in 6 months?

A new job should give you a significant LONG TERM advantage. It should help you take charge of your career. Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France seven times. In 2005 he only won one day out of 21 racing days. On one day he was 20 minutes behind the fastest bike. But he was always mindful of where he was in relation to his competition. He made sure he had the best bike and the best team even if he wasn’t getting the glory of being first over the finish line. Looking for the long term advantage is how he won.

Find the best team and opportunity you can. Get in it for the long haul. Go win. You cannot speed up your career by taking a lot of shortcuts.

Something To Do Today

Write down your career goals in your job journal. Where do you really want to go? Can your current team get you there? If not, time to change teams.

How to find the biggest trick for success where you work

Are you trying to be successful doing the work that successful people throw out? What successful people refuse to do? Then hard work won’t help you.

Man pushing huge straw bale by hand.

How can you succeed doing all the wrong stuff?

This true story is about more than salespeople. It is about accountants, programmers and managers too.

Paul, beginning his job in sales, told me, “My manager seems to be able to make a sale every time we go on a call together. All the people we visit want to buy. He sells as much as everyone else in the office put together. When I take the leads he gives me, I can’t get them interested at all. What am I doing wrong?”

Paul was doing nothing wrong. His manager was visiting only high quality leads. Paul was visiting everyone that his manager didn’t pick for himself. His manager got the golden leads and Paul got the brass. Worse, Paul refused to look for the best quality leads in what he was given. He just went out and visited everyone.

Successful salespeople, accountants, programmers, managers, secretaries and septic tank cleaners all know what sales leads, jobs, duties and knowledge are most important.

Pick out the most successful person you know who is doing the job you want. Invite him out to lunch. Ask him, “What do you do that is different from less successful people?” Take notes. Don’t let him stop with one quick answer. Ask about what he reads, what he does, and the jobs he refuses to do.

If you really pry, you will find out that he no longer does a lot of things he used to do. Ask him, “What have you stopped doing because you no longer have the time to do it?” You’ll find that successful people really do work differently. They are picky. They find ways to get drudge work assigned to others. They study particularly difficult problems so that they are assigned the most interesting projects. They also invite themselves into meetings where thorny issues are discussed. They go prepared with fresh information. That’s how they get reputations as problem solvers.

If you want to become a guru, act like one. Do what the gurus do. Just as important, find a way to get out of the work that successful people throw away.

Something To Do Today

Make that call to a successful person doing the job you want next. Find out what they attribute their success to. Also find out what they no longer are doing.

Is your job like rollerskating in a buffalo herd?

buffalo blocking traffice

You can’t drive in a buffalo herd either.

I talk to many job seekers who want to change careers.  Some of them are accountants who should be salesmen.  They got into accounting because it is safe, pays well, and has a great future. Their personality is wrong for accounting.  They don’t like carefully following precise rules.  Reporting on what other people are achieving gives them the itch to do more, not the pleasure of a job well done.

Some people who want to change careers are salesmen who should be accountants.  Salesmen make so much money that, for some, it is irresistible to get into sales.  The “should be accountants” are great with logic, and to them, buying is all about carefully planned decisions.  But developing relationships quickly is not their way of living. Pressing emotional buttons feels somehow wrong.  Sales is just not working.

A favorite song of mine says, “You can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd, but you can be happy if you put your mind to it. Knuckle down, buckle down, do it, do it, do it.”

If you have the wrong personality for your career field, CHANGE.  Do it now.  You will only have more obligations in a couple of years.

The first step is to work within your current company to see if you can switch careers.  Will they let you go from being an accountant to being a salesman?  Can you go from being a salesman to being a sales engineer or financial analyst?  Is there a way you can exploit your current job?

Often you have to change companies to change your career. You will probably have to take a big cut in pay.  Only you can decide if it is worth it.

One more thing to consider.  Is your career the problem, or the people you are working with?  I don’t know any accounting companies that are filled with rollicking, frolicking, totally off the wall, hard charging adventurers.  I do know that accountant personalities range from nearly dead, to micromanaging bosses from hell, to nurturing versatile entrepreneurs with great attitudes.  Carefully look at your situation.  Make sure that your company and the people you work with are not the real problem.  You may still need to change jobs, but your career may be fine for you.

Don’t settle for a job or career that you just can’t be happy with.  Seriously look at what it will take to work with a better bunch of people or to switch careers entirely.  Life is too short to choose misery.

Something To Do Today

Go online or to your local job center and take a personality test.  You will be surprised how accurate they are.

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Next:   Resume magic

Later:  Imperfect and highly paid

Great ideas are…

A great idea.

I got a furtive phone call from a candidate more than a decade ago, “Bryan, this idea can make you a fortune.  I don’t want to tell it to you unless you promise me half the money you make from it. This will make you rich.”

girl with an idea

A great idea can be a life changer

I answered, “You want half of my business for an idea?  Great ideas are wonderful.  I have them all the time.  What I need are people who can execute great ideas.  Will you quit your job and risk everything to make your idea work?  Will you be content to be rewarded only after your idea is making money?”

“Well, no.  Listen Bryan, if you do it, you’ll make a fortune.  You only have to give me half.”

Unable to keep the idea to himself, he eventually told me that his idea was to bring cheap programmers from India to the United States.  It was a great idea. One I was approached with literally every day by phone or email.  And many people made their fortune doing it.  I just needed someone daring enough to take the idea and run with it. I needed someone to execute the idea.

The most powerful factors in the world are clear ideas in the minds of energetic men of good will. (Thomson)

Do you have a great idea?  If you have the guts and energy to gather supporters around you and execute that great idea, you will have the ride of your life.  It can be done in your present company, a new company or your own company.  Make sure the idea and your plans are big enough.  As many companies fail from a big idea executed in a small way as from a small idea executed in a big way.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.  Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.  (Goethe)

Write down your plans.  Get people to critique the idea. Use criticizers to figure out how to do things better.  When someone says, “It can’t be done,” consider the source.  Go out and make things happen.  Life will never be the same for you.

Something To Do Today

In your job journal write down all the great ideas you have.  Do it in a separate section.  Discuss your ideas with people who can help you make them happen.

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Coming up:     Forgetting

Firefighters

Poisons

Liars

Getting past a glass ceiling

True story: She can’t get a promotion.  Not even a bigger title.  The “Good Old Boys” all admit she is doing a great job.  She saves the company literally 5 to 50 times her salary every year.  She will never be promoted.  It is because she is a woman.  I know her.  I know her company.  There is no way up.  Even shooting her boss will only get a different man promoted ahead of her.

She can make her own life a living hell by suing the company.  She’ll lose even if she wins.  They would figure out a reason to fire her in a few years and then she’d have a hard time finding a job.

There are two ways to deal with a glass ceiling.

  1. Go around it.
  2. Get a new job.

Go around it

To go around the glass ceiling you need a mentor.  It is doubtful that your own boss will really help since he isn’t helping you now.  Invite someone 2 or 3 levels above you to lunch.  At lunch, don’t condemn your boss. Ask for help to grow.  Write down the advice you get.  Set up an appointment to have lunch again in 3 to 6 months.  Go over your progress with the person.  Report on how you have improved.

Scared?  Do you have to go to the owner, CEO or chairman of the board?  Do it anyway.  What have you got to lose?  You may be surprised that the person that far above you really wants to help winners like you succeed.  And if they refuse to help, try method 2.

If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read, “President Can’t Swim”.  (Johnson)

Get a new job

Keep your old job as you search for a new one.  Chronicle your accomplishments in a job journal.  Report to your boss every week on your progress at work even if he doesn’t want to see it.  Take the reports and put your greatest accomplishments in your resume.

Network, contact recruiters, apply to good jobs at good companies.  Set criteria for moving and when you find the job, move.

Something To Do Today

Seriously ask yourself, why haven’t I been promoted this week?  Why haven’t I gotten a raise or a bonus this week?

Now write down in your job journal what you can do to get a promotion, raise or bonus as quickly as possible.

Will that make you happy?  Is that what you really want?  If yes, go do it.  If no, better figure out what you really should be doing.  There is no time like the present to change your life.  You get to be happier longer if you change today.

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Later:  The hours game

Confronting your boss

How to leave your job

Coyote traps at work – when to gnaw your arm off

Some mornings it just doesn’t seem worth it to gnaw through the leather straps. (Phillips)

Coyotes stuck in a trap have been known to gnaw their foot off to escape.  A lot of these three footed coyotes survive for years and do very well. Okay, they do well compared to coyotes that were killed by the trapper.

Scared to leave your job?  Nasty non compete?  Family responsibilities?  Too comfortable?

Are you really going to stay in that job until you retire no matter how you are treated?

If the company starts losing money is the president going to fire himself, or fire YOU? 

Do you have to shoot your boss to get a promotion?

Don’t leave just because you can.  If your job is fulfilling, pays well and gives you a chance to progress to where YOU want to go in your career, STAY.  If you have a history of job skipping, stay awhile even if you don’t like it there.  There are good reasons to stay in your current job.  Fear is not a good reason.

Yesterday I wrote about non competes.  If you are concerned about yours, talk to a lawyer who specializes in employment law.  Many non competes are not enforceable.  That means they are legally unfair or immoral.  You are not morally obligated to do something immoral.  It does not make sense to feel obligated to do what it is not legal to expect of you.

If you have a valid non compete, consider doing whatever you have to do to get out of it.  One good way is to go to your boss and say, “I want a new contract with a more limited non compete.”  Don’t threaten to quit, just ask him to reasonably limit the non compete.  If he says, “No,” you can always start looking for a job.  If he fires you for asking, check with your lawyer.  He may have just voided the non compete.  And last of all, he may realize you are upset and give you a raise or a promotion.

Even if you have to quit and commute 3 hours a day, it is better to quit now rather than later. Do you really think that in 3 years or 10 years you will have LESS obligations and lower expenses than you do now?  Slavery is illegal.  Don’t allow yourself to be a slave.

Don’t let fear paralyze you. Carpe diem. Seize the day.  Carpe jugulum. Grab the day by the throat and make life give you what you deserve.  You CAN change your life.

Something To Do Today

Like your job?  Tell your boss.

Want to leave?  Figure out how.  Don’t be chained to a life of low expectations.

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Later:                          Glass ceilings

The hours game

Confronting your boss

How to leave your job

Rigor Mortis – 10 signs of job death – 7 job CPR fixes

Job death is NOT a bad thing.  It is a part of your progress.  Once you are dead, just get on with your life.

Rigor Mortis – signs of job death –  job CPR fixes

When your job is dead you have a decision to make: keep it or leave?   If you keep it, perform CPR on your job whenever possible.  If you decide to leave, check for rigor mortis before you give up hope.

Signs of job death and rigor mortis:

  1. Dilbert cartoons posted over the company goals
  2. No one notices your 2 hour bathroom breaks…3 times a day
  3. Facebook used more than all other applications combined
  4. No raises in more than 2 years…even for your boss’s mistress
  5. You try to organize a union and there already is one
  6. Surgery required on bitten tongue after your annual review
  7. Quality program of the month comes from a federal agency
  8. A job with the State Department of School Taxes sounds exciting
  9. Members of the beef and whine lunch club get food poisoning
  10. Spouse uses an electric cattle prod to push you out the door in the morning

CPR for your job:

  1. Learn new skills…pay for it yourself
  2. Turn in weekly, monthly and quarterly job reports to your boss and possibly his boss
  3. Go to lunch with enthusiastic people, find out why they are that way, contribute
  4. Get involved with Toastmasters…guaranteed excitement and comedy, some of it on purpose.
  5. Find out everyone’s birthday and decorate their cubicle
  6. Ask the people everyone respects how you can make a bigger difference
  7. Help a customer without permission

There is always something you can do. What is it?

Something To Do Today

Time to write your weekly report in your job journal if you didn’t do it Friday.  Make a copy in a format your boss can use to send to his boss.  Give it to him even if he protests he doesn’t need it.  There is no way he can know all the good things you have done unless you tell him.

Check out www.toastmasters.org .  Go to a meeting at 2 or 3 different clubs.

The secret to getting credit and a raise

Eventually every great plan deteriorates into hard unexpected work. The trick is to get credit for it, and a raise.

A newly minted Psychologist went to a new elementary school.  Her job was to help children develop strong characters, overcome problems, and become fulfilled individuals. At 11:15 that morning the Principal poked her head in and said,  ”Come with me.  We need your help.”  A crisis intervention? Her training would really pay off now.  They both went to the lunchroom.  The Principal took the Psychologist over to the milk cooler and told her, “At lunch you sell milk to the children who bring lunches from home.” That Psychologist said she nearly quit.  It took her weeks to realize that every job has some work that just needs to be done.  Someone has to sell the milk.

She works for the children.  She really does change their lives, just not always the way she expected to.

You work for people.  Your boss is one.  He is a customer.  Your coworkers are customers.  The people who see and use your work are customers.  The people who buy your company’s products are customers.  Are you giving them what they need and want?  Are they satisfied?  Can you prove it?

In a job journal you can keep track of how you have served your customers.  Tracking what good you have done will improve your performance.  Telling your boss exactly what you contribute each week will get you a raise as you improve.  If your boss doesn’t give you the raise you have earned, your job journal will help you get a new job.

So, who did you help?  What was their problem?  Did your answer save time, money or frustration?  Write down and report on your expected duties.  Also report on the times you just have to sell milk.

It is not hard.  It’s a great plan.  It just takes a little work.

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Something To Do

Do you have a job journal?  Create one for as far back as you can remember if you don’t have one already.  Unemployed?  Create one for your last job.  Write down what you accomplished. What things are better because you were there?  Did you save money, earn money or keep a customer?  Write it down.

Here is the gutsy part if you have a job. Managers need to know what you accomplished, but most are afraid to admit they don’t know what you do every day. Submit a report to your manager in a format he can use to show his boss.  Do it every week.  Give your manager something to brag about every week.

Write down your failures in your journal too.  That way you can show how much things have improved later on.  Report failures along with how you have fixed them and how much money your improvement will now save.