So you want to leave your job. Searching for greener pastures? A boss who listens? More money? That’s cool–but it’s a tough row to hoe right now, given that there are few jobs available and scores of qualified and over-qualified candidates spamming their resumes all over the Internet. Here’s what happened to an acquaintance of mine a few months ago when he tried to quit.
This is posted with permission, because we both think it’s a good lesson and an even better story, though I’ve changed all the names and taken some liberty with the dialog to clarify the story (and because nobody recorded anything).
The Man Who Tried to Quit His Job
For 6 months or more, Eric was unhappy with his job. His responsibilities remained the same as they were when he started, 2 1/2 years prior. As a good employee who received average to high marks on his employee reviews, he felt he deserved a raise, a promotion, or both. He even asked the boss for different responsibilities to break the monotony of his day-to-day.
I met with Eric a couple of times during this period of unrest, and each time he expressed dismay at the unchanging state of his job and career. I let him vent for a while before we moved on to other topics, like fantasy football or the books we were reading. We didn’t dive deep into his work trouble–just typical responses to “How’s work?”
The last time I saw him, though, he had a different answer.
Charlie: “How’s work? Any better?” Eric: “Actually, it’s funny you ask. It is getting better.”
“I went in to my boss’s office one Monday morning last month and told him I quit.”
(This is where it gets interesting.)
Few promotions and even fewer raises have been doled out in the last two years. But if you find yourself watching other people get promoted while you toil in the same position for what seems like far too long, one or more of these reasons may apply to you.
1. You’re not doing more than your job. When promotions are scarce, you have to work even harder to get ahead. That doesn’t just mean being the best at your job–it means doing more than what’s asked of you. You’ve heard of “exceeding expectations,” right? A common phrase when giving performance appraisals, it’s a step above “meets expectations.” The problem is that expectations are set based on the job description. So if you’re expected to achieve an 85% accuracy rate, and you hit 92%, you’re exceeding expectations. But that just means you’re really good at your current job–it doesn’t mean you’d be good in a new position. You need to do something that isn’t even remotely expected of you. Continue reading
Not this kind of boss
Building a rapport with the big cheese is an integral part of success–it never hurts to have friends in high places, and leadership is in the best position to provide performance appraisals and suggest options for career development. Here are ten questions to help on both fronts:
- What are two or three important things for me to focus on learning or improving in the next 3 months?
- How do you define success for this position?
- What can I do to make your job easier?
- (If the boss held your position in the past) What did you think was the best part of this position? What was the hardest part?
- Do other companies have this position? How do they implement it?
- Why do you like working here?
- What’s the hardest part about your job?
- What is something you know now that you wish you’d known at my age?
- What do you do when you want to get completely away from work?
- Is there any additional training I can take, or particular topics I could educate myself on?
Demonstrating commitment to the job and a personal interest in your team is a great way to get a leg up, and these questions are an easy start.
Starting a new gig presents a different set of challenges. Not only are there concerns about learning the business, getting around campus, and driving a new route (or–gasp!–figuring out the bus schedule), but you also have to meet new people. I know lots of outgoing, friendly types who don’t have a single problem with this. But I know just as many people who are more naturally introverted or shy, and would prefer to be introduced by someone else rather than take the initiative. For these folks, making new friends at work can be a challenge. Continue reading
It’s common to assume that salary, benefits, moving expenses, etc. are negotiable during the job interview process. To a degree, this is an antiquated notion–especially for recent grads.
This morning I was asked about the difference between successful junior employees and everyone else. (“Everyone else” being non-successful junior employees, not seasoned professionals.) Admittedly, I stumbled through the answer, spouting off enough platitudes to choke a horse. But I gave the question more attention throughout the day, and I think I’ve come across a good answer. Continue reading
Fight or flight. Kill or be killed. Eat or be eaten. If only every decision was so binary. The same holds true in the workplace, though I’d add a third category: wait and see. I could also break it up into leaders, followers, and situational somewhere-in-the-middlers (trademark pending). Moving forward, moving backward, or paralyzed. (I could go on, but you get the idea.)
As an exercise, look around the room at your next meeting and try to categorize everyone into three groups: Leaders, Followers, and Waiters. Then look at each person’s career (what you know of it) to see if there’s any correlation between those groups and upward mobility. I bet there is. Continue reading
Posted in All Posts, Building Your Brand, Career Advice, Interviewing, Job Search, Observations
Tagged Corporate America, Interviewing, job search, Leadership, Meetings, Productivity, STANDING OUT, tips & tricks