Looking for a career advantage that’s completely within your control? Begin a concerted campaign to increase your value to your organization. Take charge of your career path by limiting the influence others have on it.
Use these four “don’ts” to stake your claim:
1. Don’t sit back while other people shape your job. Take responsibility for plotting your own career path. Set your own goals. And be specific. Don’t say “I’d like to have more responsibility.” Instead, say “I’d like to be a team leader in two years” or “I’d like to be project manager on one project by the end of this year.”
Identify what you’d like to work on well ahead of time. Then, express your interest to your boss.
2. Don’t settle for just working within your job description. Help other people on key projects. Example: If you see a colleague struggling with something, say, “I noticed that you’re having a tough time with that. Would you like my help?”
Before you take on anything new, make sure that you’re doing your assigned job well. Look for initiatives that relate to the organization’s core mission. Those are the ones that will help your career the most.
3. Don’t wait for work to “settle down” before acting. List three new challenges that you’ll pursue within the next few weeks. Nothing too ambitious—just first steps that can lead to bigger steps. Then, celebrate each small achievement along the way to maintain your dedication to change.
4. Don’t think of yourself as an employee anymore. Instead, see yourself as the president of your career. Create a “business plan” to guide your career development, listing your assets—and your liabilities, too. Then, answer this question: “What will I do to transform my liabilities into assets?”