You’ve got about three years in your current gig, and you love it. But you are reminded every now and then that there is greener grass somewhere. You would like for it to be here. But you’re willing to go elsewhere.
Regardless of whether you stay or go, you want more. How do you advance and skyrocket your earning potential? Where do you go to seek career advice?
In preparing for this article, I started hearing myself giving little tidbits of advice to my former students and new professionals. It occurred to me that these gems of wisdom are applicable to almost any career setting, and are especially impactful when you want to advance.
Then I recalled various bits of career advice I had been given over the years. And these have definitely resonated with me over the years as I’ve changed jobs multiple times.
Let’s get started.
1. Be Diplomatic
I shared this with a student leader at a large urban institution back in 2003. She was a very bold and outspoken young woman who wanted to be heard and make a difference.
On occasion, these desires made her difficult to work with. Olivia Edwardson wrote this about diplomacy in the workplace,
“To be diplomatic, you need to understand and define your expectations clearly. What is it that you need, and what needs to be done in order to achieve this goal? At the same time, you must consider everyone else’s perspective: some tasks require different levels of help, and finding a balance between what everyone wants is crucial.”
How does this apply to you boosting your earning potential? In considering others’ perspective and finding balance, you show your managers that you are a team player and willing to work with others.
This insures that you are adding value to the company on a regular basis.
2. Embrace the Shades of Gray
I’m not talking the best selling novel here; I mean dealing with ambiguity.
In my first senior management position, my entire staff was also brand new and we were learning institutional culture day by day.
Through this process, I had to model to my team the importance of being in the middle and not always making decisions from an all-or-nothing perspective. The plan isn’t always going to go from A to Z in alphabetical order.
Melanie Allen has said,
“the best leaders are those that rise to the challenge of ambiguity and respond with confidence and adaptability.”
This means not being in control all the time, and learning to deal with uncertainty. It also requires that you be present, in the moment, so you can roll with the punches.
Getting comfortable with shades of gray can impact your earning potential in demonstrating your flexibility and willingness to accept change.
In trying times at corporations, managers and supervisors want leaders who are not stuck in their ways. Advancement comes to those who can go with the flow.
3. Keep Your Resume Updated (And Your Skills Fresh)
When was the last time you updated your resume? When you started job searching? After accepting a new job? Or every time you learned a new skill or took on a new project?
Prior to landing in my current position at a community college, I changed jobs every two years or so. That’s the topic of another article, but suffice to say that I got comfortable making updates and changes to that document.
When I switched to a Strengths-Focused resume in 1999, that changed everything for me. I learned how to represent my skills and achievements in my resume rather than just listing a bunch of “stuff” that I’d performed in my various jobs.
I push my agenda of a strengths-focused resume to about every career-changer with whom I interact, and for good reason.
This type of document has never failed to get me interviews.
But getting back to how often you should update your resume…
Any time you develop a skill, create a program, or make a major change at your current place of employment.
In my current position, I’ve learned the basics of public relations, web design, communications and marketing, and branding all from the assignments and projects delegated to me.
Based on these new skills, I taught myself to use WordPress and other online tools because of the added value I bring to the organization now that I know these skills.
Walter Yate from Career Cast says of your resume,
“You can start to change the trajectory of your life as soon as you take control of your career, with the careful development of the tools and skills of the new career management; and that all starts with owning a resume that gets results.
A resume is the foundation of your brand and is your primary marketing tool. When your resume works the doors of opportunity open for you, when it doesn’t they don’t. Keep your resume current at all times because you never know when you will need it, for that next promotion or a new job.”
Well, I couldn’t have said that better myself.
4. Never Turn down More Responsibility
Wait, doesn’t this advice fly in the face of the whole work/life balance thing?
Yes and no.
Let’s first ask why you are being offered the additional responsibility.
Is it because someone left the organization and the work needs to be spread out amongst the team?
Is it because you did an incredible job on the previous assignment and your supervisor trusts you and recognizes your added value?
Is it because you’re being groomed for a promotion and your supervisor is running a little experiment with you?
It could be any or all or none of these. Your attitude and response will mean everything in this situation.
Accept the additional work with grace and style, and learn as much as you can. Then two or three weeks later you can bring up the new tasks with your supervisor and explore why the work was given to you.
Business Insider says,
“Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to take on more responsibility is a great way to grow personally and professionally.”
Talk to your boss, be proactive, and make the new work fun.
Approaching the new work with a negative attitude and a “woe is me” is just a sign to your boss that you aren’t up to the challenge. And then that added value you just landed is gone. And you aren’t being a team player.
5. Add Value to Your Organization
By making yourself indispensable to your organization and demonstrating to your supervisor how you contribute, you should find yourself climbing the ladder at your current place of employment or getting the reference needed to secure that ideal job at the new firm.
But what exactly does it mean to “Add Value?”
Simply speaking, adding value is making a product more appealing to its customers. Making it better, showing how innovative and multifaceted it is, things like that.
Now you’re going to figure that out about YOU.
Chrissy Scivicque of Eat Your Career identified six ways that an employee can add value to an organization:
- Save money
- Make money
- Improve efficiency of a process or procedure
- Improve quality of a product or service
- Fix an existing problem
- Prevent a future problem
These themes are pretty simple: if you can handle money, problems, and processes well, then you can add value to your employer. So start approaching your day to day tasks in those terms.
Do you produce a fundraising event every year? Determine how you can raise more money while spending less on the event.
Do you have a brave idea on how you can make that annual job fair run more efficiently? Draft your idea and present it to your supervisor.
Has your team leader consistently asked you and your peers to think more critically on the problem of staff turnover? Do some research and propose a couple solutions.
Keep in mind that to prove you are adding value, you actually have to do the work. You have to be proactive, innovative, and have the organization’s best interests in mind.
I thought it would be fun to get some additional pieces of advice from some actual managers out there…so I polled some of my colleagues around the country, both from higher education and the private sector. Here’s what they shared with me on how to advance your career:
“Put together data or examples to show the value the said employee has brought to the department. Don’t wait until annual review time – it’s generally too late!”
“Never be afraid to speak up during staff meetings or personal 1:1 sessions with supervisors. Pointing out carefully considered ideas and being willing to take on new responsibilities with various staff members shows flexibility, professionalism, and motivation.”
“They have to demonstrate that they are all-in on the values of the company. This can be tricky in environments where employee and supervisor are of different generations. At 25, I may think I’m working hard, but my 60-year-old boss might think I’m just doing what’s expected.”
“Do what you do well and be fully present at all times.”
“Bottom line is the key. If you are increasing income, you deserve to share in it.”
What was the best piece of career advice you’ve received, and how did it impact your earning potential?
More Career Advice That Can Help You
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