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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 July 18, 2019

How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

Most people grow up with dreams to go to college and graduate with high-paying job offers waiting for them the week after graduation. Others may favor non-traditional career paths. But the desire is the same: to find a job we love where compensation is commensurate with experience.

However, plans change. For instance, what started out as a dream to be a surgeon is cut short by a nasty injury and you’re debating how to transition into a new role. Or you might be facing being let go from your current employer and are anxious about “options out there.”

Whatever the case may be, switching careers can be intentional or unintentional. What matters is that you’re well-prepared, and the only way to do so is to learn new skills — hone in on your transferable skills.

Why Hone in on Your Transferable Skills?

There are several reasons you need to develop these skills if you want to go far in life and your career. In a nutshell, honing in your your transferable skills can lead to:

Better Job Offers

Continuous assessment and improvement of your skills widens the pool of job offers for you to make selections from. You’re no longer tethered to one industry as you’re able to lead your career by design, not by default.

People with transferable skills on a resume also open up opportunities for more potential employers.

Increase in Pay and More Responsibilities

You’ve heard the saying “with great power come great responsibility.” In your case, transferable skills make you more marketable to employers which could lead to pay raises.

Although this isn’t an automatic process– you have to be proactive about what you want in the marketplace, there is a chance that these pay raises will come with change in titles and roles.

A Shot at Entrepreneurship

Yes, changing career paths also includes the possibility of working for yourself. With these skills and work experience, you could live anywhere in the world and design a life and career you want.

We’ve talked about why you need to strengthen your transferable skills but what are some these skills, and how can you work on them?

13 Tips to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills

1. Update Your Resume

You might be surprised to know this but yes, updating your resume is a skill. The very first thing you should do while thinking about switching careers is to highlight attributes that make you very desirable candidate to employers.

Think about your volunteer experiences, freelance projects, and school projects. Although they might seem insignificant, they demonstrate your ability to deliver results that several companies are looking for.

While you might have held several positions since college, switching careers will require you to have a different type of resume.

There are three different types of resumes: functional, chronological, and a combination resume. However, if you are looking to switch careers you’ll want to have a functional resume. A functional resume is strengths-based that emphasizes skills that are transferable rather than a collection of dates and job titles.

2. Brush up on Your Communication Skills

Every attempt to get ahead in business and in life starts with the need to communicate effectively. Whether it is interpersonal, intercultural, or multi-generational, the ability to be seen and heard while respecting the boundaries of work relationship matters.

That’s why it’s one of the top skills you need to master. Strong communication skills allows you to effectively tailor your messages to specific audiences, which will make you a stronger asset to any organization.

To hone this skill:

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Pay attention to your listening skills. To communicate effectively, you need to first learn how to understand others.

Your ability to decode overt and implied messages, no matter how nuanced they are, is key to knowing how to foster deep relationships with others.

This article can also give you effective ways to enhance your communication skills:

How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

3. Learn Technical (or Business) Writing

Another form of communication, writing, is a skill that can take you anywhere.

Companies communicate a lot through written memos, emails, newsletters, and other audio-visual means. But at the crux of this all is someone or some people who are tasked with translating the organization’s vision into statements anyone can understand.

To hone this skill:

Consider taking some free or paid classes online. You can accomplish this through several community colleges or online platforms like Lynda, Udemy or edX .

4. Practice Public Speaking and Presentation Skills

No matter how intelligent you are, no one will take you seriously if you’re unable to pull off a decent level of persuasion through presentation skills.

Most presentation can be done through either electronic devices or require your physical presence. Your chosen career may require you to be in front of several hundreds of people or you could be charged with developing materials for presentation.

To hone this skill:

Volunteer to lead projects that give you some responsibility for putting together presentations.

Also, try taking courses that will improve your public speaking skills if you feel lacking.

These tips on public speaking would be helpful too:

The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

5. Get Comfortable with Identifying Problems and Solutions

Every organization has got its problems no matter how greener the grass is on the other side.

How to hone this skill:

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Practice being resourceful.

Do you know where to find every company policy on the intranet in less than five minutes?

Think about a time you noticed some inefficiency at work and proposed a solution. Think about instances where you lent your voice to a cause which resulted in improved processes for your department.

No matter how small or inadequate you might feel, you’ve got some problem-solving skills that some organizations want.

If you look for more ways to improve your problem solving skills, take a look at this article:

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

6. Recognize Your Team-Building Ability

Your ability to smoothly switch careers also depends on how well you can energize your team, especially if you’re aiming for a leadership role. Unfortunately, team-building usually isn’t something you learn on the job in most careers unless you hold a managerial position.

The good thing is that you possibly know one or two things about team-building. Think back to moments in college when you had group projects with colleagues and had to work with 3 to 4 other strangers for months. Were you able to get past your differences and disagreements to focus on the uniqueness of everyone at the table?

Making a career switch might require that you work with multidisciplinary teams whether you have a deep knowledge of what the other team does or not. I can easily think of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and social workers working closely to achieve the goals in a patient’s care plan.

How to hone this skill:

Look for collaborative projects and team building activities that excite you and challenge yourself with new possibilities.

Try some of these tactics to keep your team motivated as well:

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

7. Lean into Your Leadership Skills

Although similar to the previous point, leadership skills extend far beyond building teams, managing time sheets and correcting behavior.

What I’m referring to here is your ability to develop a vision, believe in it, and inspire buy-in from everyone involved. This isn’t about knowing how to run a particular machine; it’s about how to lead a team of people with various backgrounds, experiences, and ideas of how things should be done.

How to hone this skill:

Although more complex than the rest, it all starts with an introspective look into your strengths and weaknesses. Then get a mentor or a coach who can bring out your leadership qualities so you can operate from a place of strength.

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Learn more about the effective leadership types here:

5 Types of Leadership that Help You Build a High Performance Team

8. Improve Your Analytical Skills

Are you good at taking large amount of data and interpreting them? Your skills could come in handy.

Organizations are looking for people to make sense of the data around them, explain how it affects profitability, and make projections based on it. Best of all? You don’t need to be an accountant to be analytical.

How to hone this skill:

Try taking data interpretation classes online or at a community college. Learning Microsoft Excel or Access is also a plus. If you’re ambitious enough, you could consider getting additional certifications to up the ante.

Take a look at these ways to help sharpen your analytical skills:

What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success

9. Don’t Discount Your Time Management and Prioritization Skills

How good are you when it comes to deciding how important tasks are, organizing schedules, and coordinating plans?

Should you be willing, there is a market waiting for you out there. Organizations and busy executives are always looking for talented individuals to outsource these tasks to.

How to hone this skill:

Although not everyone possesses secretarial superpowers, you can improve this skill by focusing on taking huge tasks and breaking them into smaller goals or steps in order to achieve a bigger goal.

Here, you can learn to prioritize to achieve more:

The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

10. Embrace Your Creative and Critical Thinking Side

Although it’s often believed that creativity is for the arts and right-brained people, I believe everyone is capable of being creative. In fact, most organizations recognize creativity as a vehicle that will drive successful inventions in the future.

How to hone this skill:

Try doing something fun. As simple as this sounds, you’d be surprised to learn how much. In fact, behavioral and learning scientist, Marily Oppezzo, says taking a walk might be all you need to get your creative juices flowing.[1]

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Anyone can be creative, you just need the right way to train your brain:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

11. Don’t Stop Learning Tech Knowledge and Skills

Being tech-savvy is a huge plus. If you have an affinity with computers, software applications and are abreast of technological improvements, it is a transferable skill that is worth highlighting.

You don’t have to be a young college graduate with silicon valley dreams to work

How to hone this skill:

All you need is the determination and the readiness to learn. This article will give you some ideas on the types of skills to learn:

How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

12. Build Networks and Relationships

You aren’t free from networking. Not at the moment. With your goal to switch to a different career, your networking skills will come in handy.

Fortunately for you, networking doesn’t have to be so hard.

How to hone this skill:

Attend conferences and job fairs. Chances are you already have people in your network you can move you closer to your dream career.

To enhance your networking skills, take these steps:

How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

Final Thoughts

Although there are several people with the same qualification and degree(s) you possess, what ultimately determines hireability comes down to a myriad of things such as culture fit, how teachable you are, cultural sensitivity, inter-generational awareness, and your ability to navigate uncertainty.

You have a chance to stand out by letting your dream companies know how these soft skills make you an invaluable asset, and how saying ‘YES’ to you is a win-win for both parties.

Happy career switching!

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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