The answer? Be good at what you do.
People who are good at their job, are never out of one.
If you are good at what you do, companies will beg you to stay, and by beg, I mean they are (within reason) in your power, and you’ll be in a very sweet position to negotiate for more money, or you’ll just leave for another job. 😉
How to become good at your job
- Make work a pleasure, not a chore
- Be willing to work hard
- Stick to your morals and ethics
- Always follow through on your promises
- Be firm but fair
- Constantly improve your skills
- Study the market
- Keep your resume updated
- Ask for help and take it
- Set goals
1. Make work a pleasure, not a chore
People who jump out of bed, happy as clams to get to work, are people who love what they do.
They WANT to be at work, and they enjoy working. If you are not in this category, it shows in your performance at work and perhaps even in your salary.
You are at work 40+ hours a week. It’s a good chunk of your life, so make the best of it.
2. Be willing to work hard
Forget working long hours, that’s not what I’m talking about.
Working hard is not about putting more hours than your colleagues — it’s about taking action, talking less, and getting things done.
You don’t ned to be at the office 100 hours a week if you deliver results that your company/client can see.
Actually, I have an opinion of people at the office who come in early and work late as being stupid at their jobs because they can’t get it done in 40 hours, or lazy because they’re taking their time to do it.
For instance, if your company has a new client who is difficult and NO ONE wants to deal with them, then volunteer to take them, rather than running away and hiding in your cubicle.
Take on this new client, learn, gain their trust, do an outstanding job, and impress everyone with how great you are.
3. Stick to your morals and ethics
Never, EVER compromise who you are and who you were raised to be for money or for the company.
The company is not looking out for your best interests if they are asking you to do questionable things.
Money comes and goes, but good reputations are much harder to come by.
As Warren Buffett once quoted:
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
4. Always follow through on your promises
People sit up and take notice of others who do a good job, and who seem to consistently get things done.
As a result, you can’t say “Yes” to everything, and you need to be able to follow through on what you promise.
Trust is key in everything you do in life. If you can’t be trusted, you’ll always be under suspicion and scrutinized.
5. Be firm but fair
This one is trickier, but if you are getting special privileges like taking a 2 hour lunch because your boss said so, you know deep down it’s wrong.
Be fair to others around you. Everyone notices when someone is getting special treatment and it is not right.
As for being firm, but fair with respect to a company, I was once told: you can be fired at any time but you have to give us a month’s notice.
I said that it wasn’t fair, and I was firm with them by asking for the same treatment — either it is at-will employment, or we both have to give a month’s notice.
6. Constantly improve your skills
If you only have skills from 20 years ago that haven’t been updated or brushed up on, it’s time to get new skills.
Be open to learning new things, new processes, and see where it takes you. It might even bring you on the doorstep of an entirely different, DREAM career.
7. Study the market
If you don’t know where you will stand in terms of job stability in the next 5, 10, 15, 20+ years, you’re wasting valuable time re-positioning yourself to take on new challenges and transition out of something that might be tanking.
Leaving one career or industry, even a job role, doesn’t happen overnight.
No one wakes up one morning and says: Gee I’d like to be a certified management accountant today!!
You need to make a plan for the next 1-5 years, or however long it will take to do it (and the money it’ll cost), and execute it.
8. Keep your resume updated
Even if you have a job, and you know it’s super secure and stable, DO NOT LET YOUR RESUME DIE!
- You never know when you’ll need it
- You won’t remember even a year from now, what you accomplished
- You need to continue adding skills and certifications to build your CV
9. Ask for help and take it
I always ask for help. I don’t do everything on my own, and I am not someone who CAN do everything on her own.
The difference is when I ask for help, I really mean it. I don’t just ask for advice and then sit on it for 3 years, scratching my ..er.. head wondering why I’m still in the same position I was when I first asked.
I ask for advice, I make a note of it, I follow through with it, taking into account my own personal judgement of the situation, and I clarify if needed.
Aside from family and friends, there are plenty of people who are eager to help.
All you have to do is ask because no one is going to offer you unsolicited help on a silver platter!!
10. Set goals
Ah, goals. Goals are important so that you have a clear, defined point of where you want to be in the next 5, 10, 15 years.
Think of goals like a map.
Without a map (goals), how will you know where you’re going?
Great people are never out of a job
Even when they’ve been beaten down, rejected, and at the lowest points in their lives, great people never give up and lie in the proverbial ditch to die.
They get up, brush themselves off, give themselves a short pity party, and start trying to get their life pieced back together again.
That bulldog tenacity is what makes great people great, and they use their hard work ethic to become fantastic at their jobs, which means they never feel like they’ve failed or are out of a job — they just need to find another way to get to where they want to go.
I’m still lost!
You can also try out this one-page career ‘cheat sheet’ to figure out if you are supposed to be in the right job.
Reflection Questions: (Answer Yes, I’m Not Sure, or No)
- Am I my best self in this relationship? Yes
- Do I believe in the product, organization, or service? Yes
- How does this job make me feel? Good, Accomplished, Satisfied? Yes
- Am I challenged to be my best? Yes
- Am I growing and learning? Yes
- Am I meeting or surrounding myself with good people doing interesting things? Yes
- Are people in this organization open to new ideas and receptive to each other? Yes
- Is this the best use of my skills and talents? Aka – Am I indispensible? Yes
- Are there people I can learn from and look up to? Do I have good mentors or advisers? Yes
- Do I want to become my boss? Yes
If you get at least 5, you’re nailing it.