How to climb the ladder, or get the job you really want!

My friends have asked me many times, “How did you get that job”? I’ve told them some of these things, but maybe not all, so I am beginning a list (I’ll update it) of all my ladder climbing tips.

Also, how can you “play by the rules“, if you don’t know what the rules are?

Like me, you may have read other articles on this topic that have offered “x number of ways to get the job you want” or some other similar titles.

Most of us already know that we must:

  • Know about the job (understand what the new job may entail)
  • Prepare a winning keyword-friendly resume (to get it by the automatic resume robots)
  • Rehearse and visual yourself doing great at the interview (when you get one)

Once you’re at the interview:

  • Dress appropriately and professionally for the interview
  • Ask intelligent and open-ended questions (you also want to interview your potential new boss)
  • Do NOT ask personal questions
  • Do NOT ask about office politics, vacation accrual, or salary
  • If you have notes, or a laptop – open them up and be ready to refer to them or show samples of your work (if asked or if you feel stumped with a question)
  • Smile and show enthusiasm for the role (people hire people they like)

But I’m not going to talk about those old, and well worn topics because you should already know those (if not, google those to find out more).

Here are my tips:

  • Always be on time to work at your current job. If there is a valid reason, state it succinctly. No one wants to hear excuses.
  • If you are going to be late, call, text, and email your boss. Don’t rely on one method of communication to relay this very important information. If you know you are the type of person who is often late or out of office be sure to discuss this with your supervisor up front and determine how he / she would like to be notified.
  • Not showing up for work is a sign of disrespect and people will never respect you, if you display disrespect. I have worked with people who have been fired for not coming in to work.
  • Be on time for meetings. No manager wants to wait around for you to begin his / her meeting. It’s also disrespectful and disruptive to the group when you arrive late to a meeting, especially a weekly meeting, or one that has been pre-arranged and on your calendar.
  • Do critically acclaimed outstanding work at your current job. If you’re the only one at your position then you already know why this tip is key. Build a strong relationship with your boss, and their management (whenever possible). If you work on a team, read the next section about teamwork and why it matters.
  • Always be in learning mode – be the first to know as much as you can about the new software the company is rolling out.
  • Raise your hand – be first to volunteer for special projects, lead a new team, or take the project no one else wants. Many people do not want to speak up or raise their hand first, so if you do, your supervisor will LOVE it! Brownie points? Yes, absolutely! Why not? Don’t listen to any lazy or uncaring people if they tell you otherwise. They aren’t feeding / housing your family! There will come a day when your superior will give you a glowing recommendation or promotion, and that’s your goal (it’s why you’re reading this) right?
  • Always happily accept direction from your boss with a gleam in your eye! Believe it or not, many managers dislike having to “tell you what to do” so, when they come to you with a request, listen attentively, take notes if you need to, ask for clarification if needed, or prioritization if you’re already swamped, but always be eager for something else to do!
  • Work at an accurate reasonable speed – employers understand that you cannot work safely or with quality at break-neck speed, but when something has been designated a high priority you should definitely move with a sense of urgency to complete the task to your best ability.

Why teamwork matters

Back when I was in college, it really irritated me when one or more people on my project team would slack – not do their fair share of the project work. I’d step up and do more because of my super responsible nature so we could get a high grade. I learned early on the true value of teamwork and team-building.

At work when a team forms, I have experienced team dynamics that follow the “forming, storming, norming, and performing” model credited to Bruce Tuckman in 1965. You can visit wikipedia or buy books about it.

First, the boss may assign several disparate people a goal to complete a project. A team forms, but because you don’t know each other, you encounter a period of ice-breaking and posturing. You may not have a choice over who participates on the team.

The more the team comes together to get the project underway, the group will storm – meaning some people will want to lead, cause conflict, be negative, point out potential issues, or demand respect that has yet to be earned. Arguments and miscommunication occur during the storming phase. Members will pick sides. One or more may decide it’s okay to slack. The boss may need to step back in during the storming phase. When they don’t, it can take the team much longer to get their “ducks in a row” (so to speak).

When the energy of the team evens out and any or all bickering subsides, the team will be in the normal phase and stuff will flow easier. The ebb and flow of cooperation will be experienced by all of the teammates. Communication will improve between all members. Team members may even become friends. The boss doesn’t have to step in much because he / she can direct one team member to effectively communicate the request to the team and trust the team will receive the information and act on it appropriately.

When the work is evenly distributed and stuff is getting done in a timely fashion, the team will be in the performing mode. You feel it when you’re in a good rhythm and mutual respect and admiration is occurring. It’s exciting! A performing team is unstoppable! Results will be achieved and the team will exude confidence and pride in their accomplishments.

Unfortunately, some people never quite get the whole teamwork attitude though. You’ll need to have a lot of patience as long as these folks remain on your team. It would benefit everyone on the team, and within the company as well, if they’d learn how much teamwork matters.

When team members support each other, they’ll often graciously provide references to individuals within the group when the time comes for one or more folks to move on to leadership roles within the organization, or to a position with another institution or company. A job reference is the ultimate professional compliment! You’ll need three references for your next job and recruiters only want recent references, not someone you did an outstanding job for five or more years ago.

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