Adding rungs to the ladder – making your job into a career

This blog post is all about you! It’s a report of a talk I went to awhile back by Dr Marianne Tremaine on Adding rungs to the ladder – making your job into a career. Marianne is the Associate Head of the School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing at Massey University (Palmerston North, New Zealand) and she is particularly well qualified to talk on the subject. Her personal journey has seen her move from an administrative position in a university to becoming an academic.

Her key message was that you need to take charge! Don’t wait to be discovered – you need to have your CV and job file at the ready. You also need to be open to possibilities to do more.

You need to consider what your persona is.
You need to project a particular image of yourself. What are you abilities? Are you a good problem solver, a good speaker, a good communicator?
Upwards communication is important – you need to tell your boss about what you are doing – they don’t always know!
You need to pay attention to your image – be proactive and take steps to expand others image of you and your capabilities.
It is useful to look backwards and forwards at your career – to do a stock-take on yourself and look at your growth and sense of identity.

Volunteer to do stuff
This could be finding information for someone else to use, or volunteering to write a report. The key thing is to be ready and poised to take opportunities. You need to think of yourself as your own agent.
You need to network and be visible.

Performance appraisals
Prepare carefully for your performance appraisal and make appointments between these to make sure you are on track. Your performance appraisal is an opportunity for you to make sure your manager knows what you’ve achieved that you are proud of; what you would like to do more of; and what training and development you think would enhance your abilities.
Don’t rely on your manager to ask things that are relevant!
Make sure you have all the information you need for your review, and plan the points you want to get across.

Be organised and make things happen
Keep records on your job files – of relevant meetings, details of your achievements. Keep copies of emails and letters of appreciation. You can also keep examples of work you have done.
Make things happen and be your own agent of change!
Therapeutic whinging should just be a springboard to action 🙂

You can achieve more than you realise
Be aware of transferable skills that you have – and give specific examples of these in your CV.
Workplace learning – you are constantly increasing skills by being at work. Read documents and pay attention to what is happening around you.
Ask other people for advice – they are often very willing to give it.
Ask a speaker to come and talk to your team meeting about the innovation you would like to bring to your workplace.
Write an article, a report or a letter to those senior to you – get someone you trust to check it.
Make use of connections, your understanding of in-house processes.
Be aware of your own value!

Make use of resources
Use resources at your workplace – find books, people and courses to develop your career.
Marianne mentioned three useful books:
The personal efficiency program : how to stop feeling overwhelmed and win back control of your own work by Kerry Gleeson
Pressing the right buttons : people skills for business success by Allison Mooney
Working identity : unconventional strategies for reinventing your career by Herminia Ibarra

And her final comments:
It is very hard to stand back from your own life – that’s why mentors are so useful.
There is always a way – if you want something enough, for long enough, you will get there.
You will reach your goal – and if it’s not the one you were aiming for, it will be another one!

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