I am the first one to scream to all of you to say “No” more often because you’re likely doing things that aren’t in your job description, and getting paid nothing for it, while reaping zero rewards (read: Women ask for raises and don’t get them), but there are times when you SHOULD say “YES”, even if it scares the F out of you.
When it is something difficult, hard, and/or technical that no one else wants to really learn or touch.
If no one wants to learn it or take it on because it is difficult, SAY YES TO IT. Even if you know nothing about it, you aren’t great at it, and you feel like you’re an imposter, TAKE THE TASK.
Spend extra time outside of work if you have to.
The only reason I have gotten to where I am today in my career is because I took everything no one else wanted.
There were projects with tricky/difficult things, and people would groan and look away, and I said — Sure I’ll do it.
I spent time, and even money on courses outside of my work, learning as much as I could, absorbing all the info, asking questions, Googling…. I learned as much as I could in as short of an amount of time as possible.
And it all paid off, because now I have two specialties that employers love because they don’t really want to hire three people to do my job. (I got three people because I have my regular job, then my two specialties which I picked up, which means you technically have to hire 3 people if you didn’t hire me.)
…Then, master it and become an expert.
It isn’t good enough just to know what to do — really embrace it, and become the go-to person in that field.
BE THAT PERSON that people turn to when they want to figure something out.
BE THAT PERSON your colleagues email / message when they’re confused about something.
The more valuable you are to those around you, the less likely you’re going to get canned, and the more likely it is you are going to be seen as valuable and useful as a general addition to the team.
Let’s take a common example — a department is upgrading all of their processes and decide on a new software that has to be implemented.
Spend time on this software, go to the training sessions, take the job seriously, and learn how to use it, especially if you are getting PAID to be trained on how to do your job better.
Once you become the expert in this area, and you know what to do, how to use it, people will be scared to let you go because you just know SO MUCH.
Use this knowledge to your advantage and ask for a raise, ask for telecommuting options, or more vacation days, whatever.
The key is to try out all sorts of different “specialties” or skills and see what sticks and you understand the most.
Even becoming a master in Excel can be a solid career move, because many people don’t want to bother learning anything about it, especially not trying to do Pivot Tables or VLOOKUP, some very basic but technically challenging Excel moves.
Even learning another language…
You’d be surprised how many people balk at learning a second language or don’t really put in the time and effort into doing so, EVEN THOUGH it gives them an advantage in their career.
If you DON’T care about it, and just want to do your thing, not worrying so much about being ambitious etc, then by all means, you’ve made a smart decision to take care of yourself and your mental health. I completely support people who don’t want to learn another language because they don’t want to climb the ladder and would rather spend time doing something else they enjoy rather than study.
But if you ARE being held back at work because you let’s say, don’t speak French, that’s just a silly thing. It’s just DUMB to not learn another language if it is the only barrier to you earning more.
I personally didn’t learn French for a long time, until about 5 years ago when my partner told me to succeed in Québec, I needed to speak it. So we started speaking it, and I picked it up after 3 months of intensive learning. (Read: Tricks from an Anglophone on how to learn and speak French).
Now, I get more contracts, and better ones over other Anglos here because I am local, I speak both languages to working proficiency, I have my own actual job and TWO specialties that relate to my job.
I am basically the holy grail to employers in Québec, and I am always trying to learn more about how to better improve my job prospects and my resume to make myself more attractive to hire with a minimal amount of work.
Don’t say no to things that are difficult – you never know, you may end up falling into the perfect job mix like I did.