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Published on January 19, 2021

How To Go Above And Beyond At Work For Career Success

How To Go Above And Beyond At Work For Career Success

Long days, short deadlines, and never-ending workplace demands will take their toll. And with the transition to remote work this past year, no doubt you’re feeling the impact. Still, with all that’s changing in the world of work, your career success depends on whether you go above and beyond or settle with mediocrity.

Let’s start with your “Why?” If you prioritize career success, you need to build career capital. This is what you exchange for the career of your dreams.

For example, if you want more balance, greater opportunities, more earning potential, work that is rewarding and fulfilling, and the power to design a career that works for you, you need career capital. And you build this capital by going above and beyond.

But if investing in your capital and, ultimately, your career success isn’t enough reason to go above and beyond, here are three more reasons why:

  1. First, jobs are highly competitive. Recruiters and decision-makers are searching for candidates who stand out from the pack and have a history of going the extra mile.
  2. Secondly, budgets are tight. when leaders evaluate their team for cutbacks, they lean toward retaining the most valuable employees—high potentials, hard workers, strong expertise, and those willing to go above and beyond.
  3. Additionally, and by no means finally, going above and beyond comes with the satisfaction that you are building your skills, career reputation, and self-respect.

So, how do you build your career capital?

Well, it isn’t rocket science, but it does take some foresight and effort to garner the aforementioned benefits and more. As success expert and legendary motivational speaker and author Jim Rohn said, “Do more than what you are paid for as an investment in your future.” Those who do stand out and make it a daily habit will soar.

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To help you identify and formulate the practice of going above and beyond for career success, here are a few simple strategies:

1. Embrace Work Ethic

Buckle up friends, because going above and beyond is not a “one and done” activity. Rather, it’s a honed habit, nurtured over time that helps you stand apart from your colleagues and competition. Why? Because it’s a rare quality these days.

Going above and beyond is commonly known as “work ethic,” and work ethic means valuing and demonstrating good, quality, and hard work—sought after traits by employers. Too often, people look for shortcuts, the easy way, the magic bullet, and the path of least resistance. Unfortunately, this has become the norm.

It takes effort to embrace work ethic, but if you show that you are willing to put in the work to get great results, your possibilities are endless.

2. Demonstrate Your Leadership

As Mark Sanborn’s book aptly puts it “You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader,” and true leaders are people others want to follow.

Since leaders understand the importance of having a vision, they do the work necessary to realize that vision. When you know what your goals are—even if they are a little fuzzy—you have a target to shoot for. This not only helps you become more focused, productive, and more likely to achieve your desired outcomes but working on goals also demonstrates your leadership acumen.

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Other leaders like that. They are drawn to it and when you can align your goals with those of others, there is no stopping you.

3. Take the Initiative

If you prioritize career success, then you will never utter the phrase “That’s not my job.” Ambition is all about stepping in when the opportunity presents itself. Look for ways in which you can make contributions to your team and your supervisor. This may require putting in some extra hours or even spending some time on projects that are not your own.

Regardless of what it is you offer to do, helping others succeed is the hallmark of a great leader, and it’s also a behavior that gets noticed for all the right reasons. While this altruistic behavior is always welcome and certainly bodes well for your career reputation, let’s be honest—it’s more inviting when it aligns with your goals.

Say that your boss is working on developing their strategic planning report. Knowing that you have an interest in moving up the ladder and that this may eventually be something you’re asked to do, why not offer your help, even if it’s just to listen and offer feedback or brainstorming support?

In doing so, you are learning a valuable skill and demonstrating to your superior that you are a leader who’s willing to go above and beyond for your career success.

4. Communicate Like a Pro

The one skill we all need to continually hone is communication. Written, verbal, and non-verbal, presenting, sales, negotiation, are all critical career success skills that fall under the umbrella of communication. And when you go above and beyond, you’re communicating like a professional. In other words, you’ve taken the time necessary to build this skill and ensure all your communication is clear, brief, timely, and professional.

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A perfect example of this is how you handle emails. Brief and direct with outlined expected outcomes is the rule of thumb. While this may take extra time to prepare a well-written message, all your communication should serve a purpose and garner intended results.

Another way to go above in beyond is to be responsive. Most texts, emails, calls, and messages all warrant a response. Your reputation is not only tied to how thoughtfully you communicate but also on how you can always be counted on for a professional and timely reply.

Even better, make your response in person or pick up the phone and give someone a call. By doing so, you are not only demonstrating your professionalism but also that you’re willing to go above and beyond and handle matters confidently and directly. A “live” encounter offers the opportunity to add tone and clarity and shows that you are willing to put in the effort to create a win-win.

5. Develop Your Expertise

Success-minded individuals know the importance of continually honing their skills and expertise. If you want to go, you’ve got to grow.

Don’t wait for your supervisor to outline what training and conferences that you should attend. Go above and beyond by seeking opportunities for yourself. Start each month outlining what you will learn and the skill you plan to develop. Create a list of books, webinars, conferences, Ted Talks, courses, and mentoring opportunities to invest time in.

The good news is that most of these are free. Another compelling reason to create and engage in your own professional development plan is that it is a great way to build your network and impress your boss in your annual review.

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6. Build a Valuable Network

Routinely connecting with your network, meeting new people, attending networking events, and engaging in informational interviews are all activities required for career success. And all of these interactions should be a mutually-beneficial interaction.

It’s not about what these folks can do for you but how you can serve one another, even if it’s just listening, brainstorming, or lifting someone’s spirits with a check-in call. Remember that your network is the lynchpin for elevating your career. These are the folks that will help you open doors. And being a gracious connection, you should do the same for them.

Building your network will also help you go above and beyond at work. When you can bring people together, it not only helps solve a problem but it also makes you look pretty good. People appreciate the extra effort and thought and will return the favor.

So, be a power connector—leveraging your network in ways that help others and connect like-minded individuals in the process of going above and beyond. Take your supervisor. If you know a key decision-maker whom they should meet or a vendor that could help them with a project, this effort will not go unnoticed.

Recently, I was connecting with my mentor regarding a project that he was working on and needed help with. Thankfully, I had someone in my network who could assist him and that introduction opened the door to an offer for collaboration. It’s not about exchanging a name for an outcome, but rather, building your reputation as someone who goes above and beyond.

Final Thoughts

Opportunities abound to build your reputation as a leader, expert, connecter, communicator, and trusted colleague. And these are the competitive character traits in demand today. While it’s not hard to hone these skills, they do require work and one small effort of going above and beyond each day will compound over time and increase your capital. After all, it’s the only way to grow and sustain a successful career.

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More Tips on How to Go Above and Beyond at Work

Featured photo credit: Saulo Mohana via unsplash.com

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Kim Monaghan

Career Happiness Coach, HR Consultant, Trainer & Speaker

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Published on March 24, 2021

8 Easy Steps To Finding A Career Right For You

8 Easy Steps To Finding A Career Right For You

In the U.S., workers on average spend 90,000 hours of their lives working.[1] This means that it is likely you will spend more time working than with your spouse or partner. For this reason, it is especially important to love your job. When you are in a job you love, it feels custom-made just for you. You feel your values reflected in the company’s mission. You feel rewarded just for working there — “Thank God it’s Monday,” you think each week, and the paycheck is nice, too.

Here are 8 steps for finding the career that fits your personality like a glove.

1. Look At Yourself Carefully

Firstly, Look Inside

Some diagnostic tests help you assess who you are and what jobs make a good fit. Among free assessments you can take, the Myers-Briggs personality test is among the most popular for gauging how you perceive the world and make decisions. It consists of some 90 either-or questions that indicate whether you consider yourself an extrovert or introvert, and what influences perceptions.

Knowing yourself and the qualities associated with your personality type can help you decide whether you would be more comfortable in a front- or back-office setting, are more of an “ideas” or “execution” person, or prefer an open office or a quiet, enclosed setting to do your best work.

Career Explorer is another diagnostic careers tool, and offers a free Career Test to reveal how your interests and goals match up against some 1,000 careers. The test asks your general interest in a handful of random careers, along with your career satisfaction in previous jobs, and predicts career matches that fit your profile.

Then, Look Outside

Your friends and family members often know you better than you know yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask them, “What kind of career do you see me in?” or “How can I find a career that’s right for me? and pay attention to their answers.

Also, think back to talents you enjoyed in your younger years, particularly those that elicited comments from others along the lines of “You’re going to make a great ___________ some day.” Others often see special abilities in you that you may have overlooked.

2. Write Lists

The perfect career awaits you if you do your homework. Keep careful lists of the qualities you possess and which types of businesses will reward those qualities.[2]

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Similarly, when your friends have ideas for you, write them down. You want to be able to go back and reflect on different career paths.

Putting pen to paper — or fingers to keyboards — and allowing yourself to follow ideas where they lead is a valuable step for finding the career that is right for you.

What elements of past or current jobs and experiences stick out as the most enjoyable? List them. Think of careers where you could recapture some of those elements.

Write down the activities where you find real joy. Do you love decorating or rearranging your living room? Could this translate to fulfilling work in interior design or merchandising? Or do you find children endlessly entertaining? Perhaps you would find teaching or youth development a rewarding career path.

Generate a list of ideas, no matter how eccentric they may seem, and see if any patterns emerge.

Write a Master List of All Your Strengths and All Your Weaknesses

Be as specific as possible. If you hate waking up before 11 a.m., it is going to be hard to hold down a 9 to 5 job (unless you can work remotely in another part of the country with a different time zone). If you love talking to people, maybe the back office of a research department is too isolating for you.

Are you high energy or laid back? Do your strengths or weaknesses tend to make you a natural leader or more of a maverick? Own your particular personality strengths and quirks, and think about the various work environments where you could make the most of them. Do you like receiving direction or chafe when someone gives you feedback?

3. Set up 15-Minute Informational Interviews

All of this introspection will help you narrow your search criteria, but then it must lead to action. Ask around to see if there is anyone you know who would spare a few minutes to discuss her field with you. It could be a friend or a friend-of-a-friend or even one of your parents’ friends. You may be surprised to find that people often want to offer advice on the steps to take to start out in their field.

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Prepare some questions in advance, for example: ask how the person ended up in her field, what best prepared her for her career, which aspects she most enjoys, and how the field is changing.

Depending on how forthcoming the person is, you might also ask if she would mind if you sent a resume to keep on file in case of any future openings.

4. Read Job Postings

Before you apply for a job, start reading job postings in the two or three fields that excite you. You can find postings on LinkedIn, MonsterJobs, Indeed, Glassdoor, and Simply Hired. Do you feel goosebumps zipping down your spine when you read about certain jobs? It could be an indication that this is the job of your dreams.

Familiarize yourself with job descriptions to learn common industry terms, roles, and in-demand skills. Glassdoor, for example, gives you an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to work for a given company — but keep an open mind, too, knowing that former employees with a grudge are usually the most motivated to post reviews.

5. Write Your Resume

Your resume should reflect the skills you possess and the specific skills sought in a job. But be sure to customize and change your resume appropriately for each position you pursue. Don’t be afraid to parrot some of the words on the list of requirements back to the company. Many times, companies will actually use the key words mentioned in the job posting when screening resumes.

Research the organization that you are targeting and try to work in examples that have relevance to their customers or clients, or to issues taking place industry-wide. State how you can add value by quantifying results you achieved in former jobs or even volunteer activities. For example, “coordinated silent auctions for children’s advocacy organizations that brought in $29,000.”

Ideally, you will want to concisely recount your skills to make a riveting impression as a professional ideally suited for the position.

Check out these 10 Killer Resume Tips to Nail Your Dream Job.

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6. Watch a Movie or Two That Features a Character Working in the Field

While movies tend to exaggerate, you may see something that either confirms that you belong in that environment or scares you away from it. Career conflicts are a genre in themselves — you can find most any job represented in some form on the big screen.

The character played by Anne Hathaway in “The Devil Wears Prada,” who successfully navigated her nightmare boss played by Meryl Streep, showed the ups and downs of working on a fashion magazine. Meanwhile, “Legally Blonde” likely inspired a whole horde of young women to enter careers in law.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Risk

When it comes to job-hunting, the biggest risk is not taking a risk. Write a cover letter that truly reflects your own personality. Remember that you need to stand out, not just blend in to the hundreds of “blah-blah-blah” letters.

So, if you’re funny, be funny. If you’re serious, adopt a more measured tone. If you’re intellectual, use bigger words. Be you, not what you think you should be. When you’re authentic, it improves the likelihood that the career you find will be the right fit for you.

Think of ways to show passion for the career path you are pursuing — and then make the case for why it is the right fit for you. Hiring managers look for candidates with dynamism behind their desire to work for the company. Choose words that reveal that you are passionate, not passive: instead of “helpful,” your findings were “game-changing.” Instead of “useful,” your discoveries proved “transformational.”

Here’s How to Write A Cover Letter That Stands out from 500 Applicants.

8. Thank Everyone Who Helped You — and Especially Everyone Who Interviewed You

The gracious job-hunter lands a job faster. Even if you don’t snag a job the first time around, when you remember to thank the people who granted you an interview, those people will remember you and think of you for other opportunities. Thanks should also go to those who provided you with a recommendation or who took time with you for an informational interview.

While it may seem old school or downright quaint, a handwritten thank-you card still carries cachet. It shows that you took time to be appreciative. Or, if you send a note electronically, sincerely show gratitude and help the person remember you by bringing up something he said that you found helpful or insightful.

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A thank you to one person should not be able to be swapped with a communiqué to any other person who helped you in your search.

You Are on a Campaign to Land a Job until You Land the Job

You will likely have to meet several people in a company. Inevitably, those people will talk to each other. Make sure the emails that you write them are different from each other instead of canned notes with different names attached. Take a look at these tips on how to write a thank-you email.

Show unwavering cordiality and professionalism to everyone whom you encounter in the company. Even if you come across the receptionist entering the restroom at the same time as you, politely hold the door. Your good impression will travel throughout the office network.

Bonus: Return the Favor When You’ve Landed Your Job

Congratulations! You finally landed! Now it’s time to pay it forward.

Remember all those who helped you follow the key steps to your sought-after career, and never pass up an opportunity to help others land jobs they love.

Returning the favor will make you even more appreciative of having found the right career for you. And, when you look for your next job, you will find that you’ve built a network of helpful people on whom you can rely.

More Job Hunting Tips

Featured photo credit: Saulo Mohana via unsplash.com

Reference

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