Our small, but dedicated crew at ICanWork4U who toil away in the back-room behind the websites http://www.icanwork4u.com and http://www.mayors4jobs.com have a few traits in common. One of those is obviously that we believe there is a better mousetrap out there waiting to be invented, to make finding suitable, qualified staff for everyday jobs more easy, and making it less complicated for such staff to promote their skills and availability. We believe we are on the right track with ICanWork4U and Mayors4Jobs
Another common trait amongst our team is that we tend to read a lot, whether in search of inspiration, ideas or just because we are omnivores, constantly exploring the horizons, the outer edges of the envelopes we live in. Personally, I confess, I read a whole lot of business blogs and business articles. Boring I hear you say…well, you may be right…some of the dross out there is actually boring, and self-serving.
Occasionally I do come across an article that is just spot-on, well written and useful, though sometimes those articles are concerning big business or big deals and frankly, are difficult to translate into relevance to my little world. Once in a while a gem pops up that spans all my experience and interests.
This piece, written by Reba Hull Campbell, an American with 30 years work and life experience, is one such article. I have taken a liberty and culled only her 20 points of advice for young professionals, because I believe she has distilled some really useful pointers for work, and for life that anyone, whether an employee, job-seeker, home-maker, employer or student could benefit from practicing. If you have 2 minutes, (yes just two minutes) scan these 20 suggestions and if you can, meld one or two of them into your life and/or your work.
Remember, you can benefit these anywhere, anytime, at home, in your social life, in your workplace. They are not rocket science, just simple pieces of advice that can help advance your career, improve your saleability, make you a better person. As a job-seeker, even if you are on Social-welfare, or just updating your resume or cv, you can aspire to put some of these into practice now, and later in your new career. As an employer, or head-hunter, you might use these points to help you evaluate your employees or candidates. You could print this and put it up in the staff-room or on the notice-board. It applies to everyone and anyone. Like it says in the headline, ‘Advice is cheap, ignoring it can be costly’.
Here goes; (remember…just two minutes)
1. Establish your personal brand. Decide what you want your reputation in the workplace to be, and let your actions define you. Keep promises, and make deadlines. Under-promise and over-deliver. Avoid behavior in your personal life that could hurt your professional life (even more true today with all the risks of social media in the mix). Remember that details count, especially when getting the details right sets you apart from others.
2. Seek out a mentor. I’m guessing many busy professionals may say, “I don’t have time to be a mentor,” but most mentor relationships happen naturally rather than being established formally. Be on the lookout for them. I bet my best mentors probably don’t know they even served in that role.
3. Keep up with the news every day. Read the paper, check news websites and blogs, listen to NPR on the way to work. Know what’s in the news about your organization or industry before your boss or client asks.
4. Get away from your desk, and walk outside. Even if it’s just to walk around the block or grab a sandwich, at some point during the day your brain needs natural light and a whiff of fresh air, and your body needs to stretch.
5. Plan the work before you work the plan. Having no plan gets you nowhere. Plans will change either by force or circumstance. Be flexible, but have a plan regardless of whether it’s a work project, a trip, a major purchase, or an important life decision.
6. Don’t pass up a chance to learn. Find out what your boss or leaders in your profession are reading (books, professional publications, websites, etc). Seek out professional development opportunities; pay for them yourself, if necessary. Join professional organizations, and get involved.
7. Go to your boss with a solution, not a problem. Your boss is solving problems all day. Make his/her life easier by presenting a solution when you present a problem. Even if it’s not the solution that ultimately solves the problem, it keeps your boss from dreading the sight of you at the door.
8.Write thank-you and follow-up notes (handwritten, not emailed). Collect cards from people you meet at events, in meetings, or just out and about. A handwritten “nice to meet you” note will set you apart and help the people you meet remember you. Technology is good, but the personal touch still matters.
9. Travel any chance you get. Travel to small towns and big cities across the country and around the world. Don’t put off travel. You’ll never tell your grandchildren about that great trip you didn’t take because you were too busy at work.
10. Be interested and inquisitive. Ask good questions, and ask them often. Young professionals have a great deal to offer a work environment. Speak up when you have something to offer, but remember to balance your enthusiasm with senior-level colleagues’ experience.
11. Remember that everyone carries their own sack of rocks. You never know what type of personal issues the co-worker who missed a deadline is dealing with at home or with his family.
12. Create your own personal style. That doesn’t mean wearing flip-flops in a formal corporate environment. However, you can set yourself apart from the pack with a twist on the ordinary. To each his own, but just find your own.
13. Stay in the loop, but avoid the gossip. Be a “boundary spanner”—someone who is respected and trusted by people in all parts and at all levels of the organization.
14. Look for “reverse mentoring” opportunities. You can be a resource to your older colleagues. Seasoned professionals can learn a great deal from their younger peers.
15. Looking busy doesn’t equal being productive. The co-worker who crows about his heavy workload and long hours is probably much less productive than the one who is organized and prioritizes his days.
16. A good editor will make you shine. Don’t look at having your writing edited as you would look at a teacher correcting a paper. Editing is a collaborative process, and there’s always room for improvement in your writing.
17. Don’t come to work sick. No one appreciates the stuffy-nosed martyr. That’s why you’re afforded sick days.
18. Cultivate contacts outside work. Your next job will probably come from someone you know through church, nonprofits, alumni groups, friends, and professional organizations.
19. Take risks. It’s OK to mess up occasionally. No one can expect perfection. You can often learn more from mistakes than successes. Yes, really, you can.
20. Strive for work/life balance. The “balance” will probably fluctuate daily, but creative outlets, exercise, and hobbies make you a more valuable (and saner) employee.
Like I said, these are 20 points anyone can apply to any part of their lives. I hope some of them resonate with you. I have a few favourites among them, 3, 4, 6 and 11. Have you a favourite? Is there another point that she/I have missed? Let us know.