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Hindsight Hacks: 15 Things I Wish I Knew Right Out of College

Hindsight Hacks: 15 Things I Wish I Knew Right Out of College

Oh, that pesky little thing called hindsight.  It’s always easy to be knowledgeable after the fact. When you are 22, fresh out of school, and making your own trail you don’t have the benefit of all that hindsight.  There is one good thing about getting older and that’s wisdom. Those of us who have gone before can’t go back and do it again but it’s not too late for you.

Here’s 15 things to get you started off right in your post-college life.  Life is wonderful so wrap your arms around this great big world and embrace your unlimited opportunities.

1. It’s a new day and new game

It just doesn’t matter if you were the high school quarterback or president of your fraternity. When you enter the workplace, it’s all equal footing.  On the flip side, if you were not the most popular guy around, big thumbs up.  It’s a new day for everyone.

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2. Drop the permanent frown

Nobody likes it.  It’s not cool. All that tells people is that you are insecure and emotionally immature.  Be a part of the fun.  Don’t sit on the sidelines in judgment. That won’t get you very far.

3. Learn to speak up in meetings

If you don’t do it, the jerk in the corner is sure going to do it and we don’t really like hearing from him.

4. Be fluid

As they say, flexible is too rigid. There will always be shifts in technology, leadership, and the workload.  Things just change – a lot.  You will drive yourself crazy if you cannot be adaptable.

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5. Don’t be so offended

Learn to pick and choose the battles you want to fight.  You really don’t have to be offended over every single thing.  Get over it and move forward.  Don’t spend negative energy on things that do not matter in the long run.

6. Don’t think of your first job as your forever job

Get your experience, do a great job, build your resume, and know when to move on.  Leverage the skills you learn and parlay that into greatness.

7. Travel

Spend time traveling across the U.S. and overseas.  Take in the fullness of life and not just life within a 15 miles radius of where you live.

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8. Live overseas

If you ever have the chance to live overseas, take it!  Your life will never be the same.  You will understand who you are, your culture, and you will really feel like a citizen of the world.

9. Don’t be ordinary

Don’t spend your weekends just going out to a dinner and movie.  Take a hike in the mountains, learn to paint, or go sky diving. Be unique. Experiences make you.

10. Be humble, be genuine, and be awesome

This fits into the category of keepin’ it real but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a caring person in life.  We are all in this world together. You will get more out of being genuine than you ever will bearing some fake persona.

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11. Make friends and keep friends

Life has its ups and downs.  You cannot go through everything alone.  There will come a day when you need to rely on your friends so make friends and keep friends.  Conversely, be a good friend because they will need you, too.

12. Everyone has a hard time finding your first job

It’s not just you.  It’s hard for everyone starting out.  Suck it up, buttercup.  Just keep at it.

13. Be healthy

You have a long road ahead of you and the more fit you are, the easier it will be.

14. Your job is not your identity

Jobs will come and go. You have to live with yourself 24 hours a day so be sure you like who you are.

15. Everyone has a story

We are the author of our life.   Write a great story that keeps unfolding chapter after chapter.  Share your story and have others share their story with you. Everyone has a story, you just need to ask them what it is.

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Published on March 25, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up. You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out.

But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

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Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

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Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

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Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

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Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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