For federal government workers this is the time of year we start to get our performance appraisals and new fiscal year expectations. As a supervisor, it can be an intense time for me. It’s also a time of reflection. Sometimes I get surprised that I am where I am in my career or when someone asks me for career advice or to be their mentor. I’m no longer in my twenties and I have some years of service behind me now so maybe I do have something to share. There aren’t a lot of people I know at my age where I am and it didn’t come to me because of simple luck. I stayed focus on my goals. So if someone were to ask me how to get ahead at work with just five tips, I’d share the following:
- Study your craft. Become an expert and a go-to source of knowledge. If people aren’t asking you questions it’s because they think you don’t know and that’s not good. So read whatever is out their in your field and take any relevant courses and trainings.
- Think outside the box. If you know of a way to improve efficiency of a process or cost then don’t be afraid to share new ideas. Managers have a lot to deal with but one way to show you are a keeper is to bring some fixes to any concerns you bring to them. Be prepared to take the lead on any solutions. Take initiative.
- Say yes. Sure taking on new work can be time consuming. However, it’s those extra projects that get you noticed. And if management is asking you to do certain assignments it’s because they feel they can rely on you which is good.
- Get a mentor. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my career. Whether the mentor is formal or informal, seeking career advice or solutions regarding how to best handle work place problems is always a benefit.
- Have a career plan. In the federal government they are called Individual Development Plans. Sure writing goals out with steps on how to achieve them along with dates on when you will take these actions can be a pain but it is worth it. One, it supports any training or development request you give to management because they know you are doing it to further your career and a good manager will want that. Two, it keeps you focused on the bigger goal so you aren’t sweating the small stuff or getting too comfortable in your current position. Three, it helps you actually reach your goal when you want to reach it.
In summary, the way to get ahead is to get out of your comfort zone, think big, and keep learning!