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How to Hack Your Job

How to Hack Your Job

If going in to work is starting to feel like a depressing chore rather than something enjoyable and challenging, you’re not alone – almost ¾ of employees are reportedly unhappy with their jobs. Maybe it’s time for you to rethink where you’re at in terms of your career and your chosen job – and fortunately, there are more opportunities than ever for a job that’s unique and customized to you. Many companies are beginning to realize that the current workforce isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation; many valuable employees are eschewing the traditional 9-to-5 office cubicle and searching for a way to create their best work on their own terms.

As a sea change occurs within traditional office roles, many industries may be left playing catch-up when it comes to attracting top talent. With freelancing and small business becoming lucrative options, and more workplace environments becoming receptive to innovative alternatives, there’s never been a better time to figure out just how you can make your job work for you.

Why the Modern Job Needs to be Hacked

There’s something to be said for the status quo – it keeps things in line; it offers stability; people know that it works. And in the case of the workplace, it can be hard to let go of the status quo – that is, the methods and processes that have gotten a company this far. However, as the workforce becomes upended by new expectations and innovations, many employees are beginning to want something more.

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As seen in The New Face of the American Workforce, with the rise of the Internet has come a wave of outsourcing and collaboration. Companies have begun to realize that they can attain solid work from outside parties, which saves them the costs that would normally go towards fully tenured employees. These outside parties – many of them freelancers – have also benefited from this arrangement, because it offers them more freedom and creativity than being constrained by the traditional employment situation.

Simply put, if you’re a business owner and you want your company to thrive, it’s a good idea to start adapting creative solutions to ensure that your staff is happy to come to work. And if you’re currently an employee stuck in a job that isn’t moving the way you want it to, then it’s time to take action and figure out what you can do to keep yourself motivated. After all, you spend much of your life at your job – you want it to be something you enjoy doing.

The Inside Job

This article from BBC.com defines hacking your job as “breaking the rules, typically in small ways, to net you greater efficiency from the working systems you’re stuck within.” If you’re firmly set inside the working world and want to look for ways to improve it – and your workday as a whole – here are some job hacks you can try:

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Invest your time in learning new software solutions to make work easier. This is one of the top workplace hacks to help make you more efficient, as well as removing an obstacle that can drag your day down. If you find that certain work programs are slowing your progress, start looking for similar alternatives that you can switch to. The BBC.com article uses the example of much-maligned office software like Microsoft Excel and Sharepoint, and suggests using Google Docs and Dropbox instead. If you step away from standard software, you might find your productivity increasing.

Outsource tasks you hate. In many positions, there will be a certain amount of drudgery that you’ll have to undertake. But in a lot of areas, you should feel free to delegate or outsource tasks you dislike doing unto other people. This article emphasizes the need to “relinquish control” and spread the work out so you’re not overloaded, and a similar piece at Entrepreneur agrees that if you choose to outsource, you can free up your schedule while maintaining quality control.

Make time for individual side projects. The Entrepreneur article author has this to say, and he’s not wrong: “Side projects are fun. They’re passion projects. They help me stay creative, empower me to make mistakes without consequence and provide me new opportunities to learn.” If you’ve got enough time on the side, try devoting yourself to learning new software, attending a class online or in the evenings, finding initiatives to give back to the community, or simply putting aside the time for a separate creative pursuit.

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Maintain regular office hours. Be strict about when you will and won’t be in the office. It’s all too easy to come in early or leave late, but that just creates the perception – for both yourself and others – that you have no other life besides your job. Put in your hours of hard work, then clock out and spend your off-time with family or non-work passion projects. This balance will help put an even priority on both your work and your home life.

The outside options

As the workforce continues to change, ideas about staffing changes with it. Although most companies do have a roster of full-time employees, many are continually searching for a more cost-effective alternative. This is where you can come in: If you’re having a difficult time hacking the modern-day office to make it work for you, perhaps it’s time to hack your job into a position where you work for yourself.

Freelancers are without a doubt one of the fastest growing segments of the working population. For many, the idea of getting away from full-time employment, making one’s own hours and choosing one’s clients is irresistible – and becoming more of a potential reality than ever. This Intuit report on business trends states that contingent workers will make up more than 40 per cent of the workforce by 2020, possibly in response to full-time and full-benefit jobs becoming scarce. The time might be right for you to move away from the office and start channeling your skills into freelance work, particularly if you look to the technology, journalism, and marketing sectors. And with the growing popularity of co-working spaces, freelancers can still feel like part of a social office environment without the obligations.

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Startups and other small business ventures is another route you can take. If you have vision that has outgrown being a side project, you may want to consider going forward with bringing it to life as a legitimate business. If loving what you do means never working a day in your life, maybe having your own small business or startup is the key to making your passion into something bankable.

Don’t Be Complacent With A Stagnant Job

With so many options and types of employment currently available, there’s no need to feel stagnant at a job that doesn’t feel satisfying. Instead, try hacking your job in small, manageable ways to make your day more fulfilling and productive, or else go in a new direction entirely and create a job situation where everything is in your own hands. Hacking your job is something that may just be vital for anyone in the modern-day workforce, and it could just make you a better employee in the process.

Have you ever performed any job hacks?

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Last Updated on January 13, 2020

Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

Are you challenged at work? Do you regret career decisions? Are you happy? If the answer to the questions leads to a negative feeling, it is time to determine next steps.

Many people settle for a career that no longer brings satisfaction. Most will respond by stating, “I am surviving” if a colleague asks them “How’s work?”

Settling for a job to pay bills and maintain a lifestyle is stagnation. You can re-direct the journey of a career with confidence by taking control of future decisions. After all, you deserve to be live a happy life that will offer a work-life balance.

Let’s look at the reasons why you need a career change and how to choose a career for a more fulfilling life.

How to Know if You Need a Career Change?

The challenges of dissatisfaction in a career can have a negative impact on our mental health. As a result, our mental health can lead to the obvious appearance of stress, aging, weight gain and internal health issues.

You deserve a career that will fulfill the inner desire of true happiness. Here are common factors that it is time for you to change your career.

Physical Signs

Are you aging since you started your job? Do you have anxiety? What about work-related injuries?

It feels amazing to receive a pay cheque, but you deserve to work in an environment that brings out the best of you. If the work environment is hazardous, speak to your boss about alternative options.

In the case that colleagues or your boss take advantage of your kindness, feeling the anxiety of fear of losing your job because of a high-stress environment may not be right for you.

Mental Signs

One out of five Americans has mental health issues, according to Mental Health America.[1] In most cases, it is related to stress.

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I remember working at a job in a work environment where harassment was acceptable. I had to walk on eggshells to avoid crossing the line with colleagues. My friends started to notice the difference in that I seemed out of character. It was then that I knew that changing a career to freelancing was the right decision.

Here is a list of mental signs of workplace unhappiness:

  • The tension in your neck
  • Difficulties with sleeping
  • Unable to concentrate
  • High anxiety
  • Depression

If you start to feel your self-esteem is diminishing, it is time to consider if working in a high-stress industry is for you. The truth is, this negative energy will be transferred to people in your life like friends and family.

Are You Sure You’re Not Changing for the Wrong Reason?

Most people that feel they need a career are frustrated with their situation at work. Do you really understand your current situation at work?

The reason it is important to think about the work situation is some people decide to change career for factors that are insignificant. Factors that can potentially change if the person works in a different department or new organization.

Here is a list of unimportant factors to think about before you decide to make the transition:

Desire for an Increase of Salary

The desire for a higher income can persuade some to believe they are in the wrong career. The issue with this is more money requires more time in the office or taking on several positions at a time.

At times, pursuing a high-income role can be the complete opposite of what one is expected. It is what happens when a colleague leaves a company to a new one and returns several years later.

Overnight Decision

Let’s face it. We make overnight decisions when stressed out or disappointed with situations at work. The problem with a quick decision is the negative and positive points is overlooked.

Rejected for a Promotion

I have heard stories of managers that applied ten times for a position throughout a 5-year period. Yes, it sounds to be a lengthy process, but at times, a promotion requires time. Avoid changing a career if you do not see the results of a promotion currently.

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Bored at Work

Think deeply about this point. If you work a job that is repetitive, it is normal to feel bored. You can spice it up by changing the appearance of your desk, socializing with new employees in a different department, joining a leadership committee at work or coming to work with enthusiasm. Sometimes, all it takes is you to change jobs into a fun situation.

A career change can take time, networking, education and the job search process can be a journey. Here is a list of things to consider before making a final decision:

  • How long have you worked in your career?
  • What is the problem at work? Do you work well with the team?
  • Do you receive recognition?
  • Can you consider working in a new department?

If after reviewing your work situation and none of the above recommendations can help, then it’s time to make a career change.

How a Career Change Will Change Your Life

I have a friend that works in the medical industry. She was once a nurse working directly with patients in one of the top hospitals in her area. After five years, she started to internalize the issues with her patients to the point where she felt depressed after work hours. It impacted her relationship with her family and she almost lost herself.

One day, she decided to wake up and take control of her destiny. She started applying for new medical jobs in the office. It meant working on medical documentation of patients which is not an ideal career based on what society expects a medical professional to perform. But she started to feel happier.

It is a classic example of a person that was negatively impacted by issues at work, stayed in the same industry but changed careers.

A career change can fulfill a lifelong dream, increase one’s self-esteem or revive the excitement for one’s work.

You know a career change can be the right decision to make if you experience one or all of these:

  • Working in a negative workplace: Don’t be discouraged. A negative workplace can be changed by working at a new organization.
  • Working with a difficult boss: The challenges of working with a difficult boss can be stressful. All it takes is communication. You can address the issue directly with a manager professionally and respectfully.
  • Feeling lost about what you do: Most people stay at their jobs and settle for mediocrity because of the fear of failure or the unknown. The rise to success often comes with working a tedious role or stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. If you fear the idea of being involved in activities that are new, remember that life is short. Mediocrity will only continue to make you feel as if life is passing you by.

How to Make a Career Change Successfully

The ultimate key to success is to go through a career transition step by step to avoid making the wrong decision.

1. Write a Career Plan

A career plan has a dead line for action steps that includes taking new courses, learning a new language, networking or improving issues at work.[2] A career plan should be kept in your wallet because it will motivate you to keep pursuing the role.

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You can learn how to set your career plan here.

2. Weigh Your Options

If you have a degree in Accounting, write down five positions in this industry of interest. The good news is diplomas and degrees can be used to a variety of roles to choose.

You don’t have to stick to what society holds a top job. In the end, choosing the right role that will make you happy is priceless.

3. Be Real About the Pros and Cons

It is time to be honest about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the job market that are impacting the current situation.

A SWOT Analysis of a career can include:[3]

  • Economic factors
  • Direct competition: Is this role in high demand?
  • Location: Do you need to move? If the goal is to work in tech and living in Cincinnati is not realistic, consider moving to San Francisco.
  • Achievements: To stand out from the competition achievements like awards, committee involvement, freelance work or volunteering is a recipe for success.
  • Education: Do you need to go back to school? Education can be expensive. However, online courses, webinars or self-study is an option.

    A career blueprint is the first step to creating realistic goals. A person without goals will be disappointed without a clear direction of what to do next.

    4. Find a Mentor or Career Coach

    A mentor or a career coach that works in the desired position can share the pros and cons of working in the role. Here is a list of questions to ask a mentor:

    • What is required to be successful in the role?
    • What certification or educational development is needed?
    • What are the challenges of the role?
    • Is there potential for career advancement?

    A chat at a coffee shop with a mentor can change your mind about the desire for a career change.

    Find out how to pick a good mentor for yourself in this article: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed

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    5. Research Salary

    Some people decide to change careers for a role that pays less or perks like benefits to make up for the difference in previous to potential salary.

    It can reveal the cities throughout the country that offer a higher salary for those that have an interest in relocating for work.

    6. Be Realistic

    If your goal is to move up into an executive position, it is time to be honest about where you are in your career.

    For example, if boardroom meetings, high-level discussions about financials or attending weekly networking events are boring, an executive role may not be right for you. If you are an introvert and working with people every day is nerve wrecking, you need to reconsider a job in sales.

    Ask yourself if you can work in this role for the next five years of your life. If other benefits that come with the role are enticing, other roles are fit that will make you happy.

    7. Volunteer First

    A person that wants to become a manager should take on volunteer opportunities to experience the reality of the position.

    Becoming a committee member to pursue a presidential opportunity can provide a perspective on leadership, maintaining a budget and public speaking.

    Volunteer in a role until you are certain that it is the right opportunity.

    8. Prepare Your Career Tools

    I recommend asking a boss, colleague or mentor for career tools. If you prefer professional assistance, you can seek out resume writing assistance. Here is a list of things to consider when preparing career tools:

    • Online search: Search your name online to see what shows up. I recommend searching images that are on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or other sites on a personal account. The last thing you want to realize is the job search is unsuccessful because there is unprofessional content you posted online.
    • Be LinkedIn ready: Recruiters conduct a LinkedIn search to see if the work experience is the same on a resume. Remember to change the wording on LinkedIn from the resume, or it will appear there was no effort put into creating the profile.
    • Portfolio: A portfolio of work is recommended for people that work in the arts, writing, graphic design and other fields. I recommend a portfolio online and one that is available in hand when attending job interviews or networking meetups.
    • Cover letter: A good cover writer will always impress your potential employers. Here’s how to write a killer cover letter that stands out from others.

    Bottom Line

    It takes time to move towards a new career. Pay attention to the physical and mental signs to maintain your health. You deserve to work in happiness and come home stress-free. If you avoid the common mistakes people make, you will find a job and discover the role in a career field that is the best fit with your skillsets.

    Master these action steps and changing career paths will be on your terms to make the best decision for your future.

    More About Career Change

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

    [1] Mental Health America: The State of Mental Health in America
    [2] MIT Global Education & Career Development: Make a Career Plan
    [3] Creately: Personal SWOT Analysis to Assess and Improve Yourself

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