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SECRETS ON HOW TO GET AHEAD IN YOUR CAREER

19 July 2017

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30 days after reaching a career milestone and taking on a new role in the world’s best airline (debatable I know, yet I’m biased of course), people still ask my secrets on how I’ve managed to quickly get ahead in my 3-year marketing career in aviation.


Given the bleak global economic condition, challenging industry trend combined with my nationality, age, tenure and other objective plus subjective factors, some would conclude that there really are unspoken secrets on how to get a job promotion and achieve career growth despite the odds.


Sorry to break the news, but there are no secrets.  Seriously, zero!  Perhaps, they’re more like ‘job basics’ that we tend to overlook or put to practice as we’re bogged down by daily tasks – hence, the feeling that we’re missing a trick one way or another.


To inspire us a bit, I’ve penned down my ‘top 30’ reminders (inspired by the last 30 days), which may come in handy as you revisit your career growth goals.


1.  Have a goal with a deadline.  Simply define your career growth steps, find ways to achieve every milestone and set specific deadlines.  If you don’t see them coming to fruition, change or move on.


2.  Know your specialty and use it.  It’s wrong to expect recognition if you don’t bring anything extra to the table.  Doing your job well is a given so that won’t be enough.  Be an expert in something valuable and amplify it as your value-add.


3.  Do your best even if nobody’s watching.  Be consistent and build the ‘strive for perfection’ habit especially if you’re on your own.  It will naturally shine and would be seen as your innate ability, which will seal your credibility and unquestionable work ethics.


4.  Be fueled with energy and show your burning passion.  Everyone wants to be with enthusiastic, positive, happy and passionate individuals.  Bring this demeanor to the workplace and use it to your advantage.  If it isn’t your nature, you can learn it. 


5.  Do more, expect less.  Not all your efforts, actions and successful results will be seen and applauded.  Sometimes, your one mistake will even outweigh your consistent good track record.  Manage your emotions, show professionalism and strive harder.


6.  Volunteer instead of shying away from out-of-scope tasks.  One of the best avenues to showcase your efficiency (since you can handle more than your usual tasks), effectiveness and team spirit.  Treat it as a seed that will grow as a fruit that you’ll eventually harvest in the future.


7.  Be the ‘safe pair of hands’ and ‘go to person’ of your boss.  Being people’s top-of-mind for the right reasons will take you places.  Effortlessly win the future competition by investing your commitment and dedication to your boss even before the game of choosing ‘who’s next’ starts.


8.  Don’t be credit-hungry and let your output speak for itself.  Don’t you just hate it when a person shows that everything is about him?  It’s also a sign of insecurity and lack of confidence.  So, don’t fall into the trap of needing the ‘me, myself and I’ validation as it will surely backfire.


9.  Attitude is everything.  Since we’re dealing with humans, they won’t just see the rationale and robotic excellent business results.  The soft skills will also matter (and sometimes more!).  Make sure you have the stellar ‘likeability’ factors well-positioned too.


10.  Dress the part and package yourself well.  May sound superficial, yet part of life.  Grooming, physical presentation, style, look and feel are also part of the assessment.  Keeping that glowing radiance and well-presented stance contribute to the difference.


11.  Learn to network and use it right.  Know and engage the right people who can influence, decide or approve actions in the organization.  Being part of the inner circle is a good way to have your foot in the door.


12.  No politics, no gossips.  Unless you’re in politics or show business, then don’t.  Directly or indirectly participating in the dirty tactic is just wrong and filthy in my view.  Plus, if you’re really goddam good, you don’t need to resort to such a low tactic.


13.  Be positively different, a breath of fresh air.  Always have the ‘glass half full’ view.  Positively look at actions and solutions than dwell on what’s wrong and difficult.  Such attitude also showcases one’s emotional maturity and mental stability.  Let this be part of your strength.


14.  Anticipate and proactively action the need.  Don’t just wait for orders.  Not only is that a sign of too much dependency, but also a reflection of not having leadership potential.  Understand and assess every situation and act on a potential solution.


15.  Be consistently objective.  Avoid passing judgement based on personal preferences, feelings or opinions.  Use hard data, facts, studies, customer feedback, etc. and how they align with quantitative goals.  Your cases would be stronger if they are founded this way.


16.  While everyone’s busy whining, be busy ‘doing’.  Let your colleagues waste time on unproductive topics (who should lead, what should be the process, etc.).  While they do, get cracking and finish what’s supposed to be done.  Get the output to the boss then exit gracefully.


17.  Deliver goods that will help the business grow.  Keep in mind that the ultimate goal is revenue and profit growth.  Regardless of your role and function, you can help contribute to this.  Act and provide output that would deliver such results and show them to those who should know. 


18.  Contribute to cost-saving measures.  And the flip side to #17 is this.  Exactly the same tip, show ways on how best the company can save money to increase profitability levels.  Trust me, no matter how menial the suggestion, every penny saved counts.


19.  Have life outside work.  Gone are the days when working hard or staying up late is cool.  Today’s game will be won by someone professionally efficient and well-rounded.  Show that you thrive in other life aspects too – this will be more admirable.


20.  Act a level higher than your rank.  If you’re an Assistant Manager today, deliver the quality of work similar to how the Manager does (or even better perhaps).  Doing so is a simple indicator that you’re ready for the next level.


21.  Share your career development plan with your boss.  It’s best for him to know that you are goal oriented, have clear ambitions and have defined plans on how to reach them.  Start the conversation to make him realize that you’re not just there for the paycheck.


22.  Consult and seek help from others.  There are lots to learn in various facets of the business.  Find ways to leverage others’ expertise and apply them if relevant to you.  Don’t be shy to ask and say that you don’t know everything – that’s a sign of maturity and humility.


23.  Delegate efficiently.  If you have the authority to do so and would not only ease your burden but let others shine too, then delegate it.  Managing people to deliver is a tougher challenge than doing the actual output, so take on the challenge.


24.  Be an inspiration to others, but remain humble.  If you inspire others to be better, that’s the best compliment that would indicate you’re on the right track.  Keep doing what you’re doing and aim to be everyone’s benchmark while keeping your humility.  That’s ‘class’ if you ask me.


25.  Ask for feedback.  Be ready to hear the good, the bad and the ugly – it’s another sign of openness and adaptability.  Take criticisms constructively and show how you’ve improved based on the feedback.  If you do, you’ll earn their respect.


26.  Acknowledge and learn from mistakes.  Nobody’s perfect and it’s impossible to not make mistakes no matter how you avoid it.  Put your hand up when you do, assimilate your learning and try to not do it again.  You’re showing courage here, not weakness.


27.  Don’t be complacent, always learn something new and apply it.  Never seek refuge in comfort nor rest in your laurels.  That’s the most dangerous space in the fast changing and developing corporate world.  No matter how skilled you think you are, there’s always something new to learn.  Embrace it.


28.  Work on improving your weaknesses.  Do yourself a favor by recognizing your opportunity areas and committing to improving yourself.  This in itself is a sign of growth that if noticed by stakeholders might land you to the ‘high potential’ classification.  


29.  Never be intimidated.  Seniority, title, age, nationality, professional credentials, educational attainment, languages spoken and competencies are mere descriptions.  Some may not even matter so don’t be fazed by them.  We’re all mortals breathing the same air so never be afraid of anyone.


30.  Love and be proud of your job.  ‘Tis the most important of them all.  If you sincerely love and take pride in what you do, it’ll naturally reflect and will be noticeable in everything you do.  In due time, your effortless dedication, loyalty, commitment and performance will be rewarded.  Just keep loving the daily grind – your perfect time will come.

Thoughts?  Leave a comment.

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