Written by Jeff Manhilot
Everyone needs some help in their careers. I gave #31CareerHacks last June (2019) and compiled all of them, here.
If you find this valuable, don’t keep it to yourself, feel free to like, comment and share so that we can reach more people.
Career Hack #1: ALWAYS BE AHEAD OF YOUR GAME.
Strive to learn one step (or two) ahead of what you’re currently doing. Stress and frustrations happen when the challenges of your current role is more than what your competence can take.
▶︎ If you’re in college, learn what an entry level needs to know.
▶︎ If you’re in an entry level, learn how to be a great supervisor
▶︎ If you’re a manager, learn how to be a senior executive
Career Hack #2: WHAT YOU KNOW IS AS IMPORTANT AS WHO KNOWS WHAT YOU KNOW.
If you believe you have something of value, if you think you can have what it takes, then go out and take the risk of getting known and exposed.
Regardless whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you need others to know what you know. It’s the only way they would be able to give you the chance to do what you alone, can do best.
▶︎ Attend seminars, conferences and ASK QUESTIONS
▶︎ Create your own content online, comment on others and ENGAGE
▶︎ Volunteer in your church or community and BE INVOLVED
Career Hack #3: CHOOSE WISELY WHO YOU SURROUND YOURSELF WITH
The people you surround yourself with, will either build you up or pull you down. It’s true, “birds of the same feathers, either QUACK or SOAR together”.
Therefore, spend time with people who:
▶︎ Will give you honest feedback
▶︎ Do more, complain less
▶︎ Put value on hard work
▶︎ Is Mission and purpose-driven
▶︎ Loves to learn and grow
Career Hack #4: START INVESTING IN YOURSELF.
If you believe you’re worth it, and that others should believe in what you can do; be the first one to invest in you. Put your money where your mouth is. Don’t get into the habit of expecting others to invest in you when you yourself won’t.
▶︎ Buy a book
▶︎ Enrol in a course; register for a seminar
▶︎ Treat a mentor out for lunch
Career Hack #5: PUT EVERY NEW LEARNING TO THE TEST, IMMEDIATELY!
The only way to retain a new skill, knowledge or capability is to use it. Don’t delay.
▶︎ Use it fast
▶︎ Fail forward
▶︎ Share with others
And before you know it, mastery comes as a by-product. Here’s a bonus, when you master something, you usually re-configure and improve on it.
Career Hack #6: BE A LINCHPIN (got this from Seth Godin).
Whether you’re a jack of all trades or a master to one (or two or three), you can be a linchpin; another word for this is indispensable.
▶︎ Take on and solve challenges that others avoid
▶︎ Stand for what is right, even if it’s inconvenient
▶︎ Always come prepared; and make sure you do your homework
By the way, I don’t believe that nobody’s indispensable. There are those who are; they are just let go by incompetent and ego-driven managers.
Career Hack #7: CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES WISELY AND WIN THEM.
Winning battles (in and out of the office) can work wonders for one’s career. But some go by the numbers and probabilities. They take on every battle or argument and waste precious time, energy and attention, in doing so.
Whatever your reason is, make sure you don’t end up being that person who usually take on the world (or at least every issue) and lose miserably in the process.
▶︎ Be picky. Take on issues that you feel strongly about and very familiar with
▶︎ Always focus on facts, not feelings; and keep an open mind
▶︎ Remember to talk less, ask more and listen doubly more
Career Hack #8: PRIORITIZE YOUR CHARACTER
Character is who you are when nobody’s looking and it’s also how you respond when confronted with reality.
Work on your character as if your life depends on it; because it does!
▶︎ GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out. Choose wisely, what you read, watch, listen and meditate on. What you put in your mind will always influence how you respond.
▶︎ Welcome and embrace hardship, tension, frustrations and stress. They’re all essential in building character. Consider them as gravity. Without gravity, your muscles atrophies. Same with character
▶︎ Learn from people with solid character. Copy what’s good, leave behind those that are not.
Career Hack #9: DON’T LET THOSE THAT CONCERN YOU, CONTROL YOUR DAY.
The Bible tells us not to worry and to not be afraid, many times over. And I suppose there’s a reason for that. We’re naturally inclined to be concerned on things we can’t control.
Unfortunately, worrying about what we can’t control, seems counterproductive.
▶︎ Focus instead on what you can control rather than what concerns you.
▶︎ You can’t control your boss, traffic, your spouse, children, weather, parents, government, drivers, colleagues, team members (however much you’d love to).
▶︎ We can only control ourselves, and even that is already hard enough.
Once you master yourself, your influence grows which eventually decreases your concerns. I know, it’s sort of magical.
Career Hack #10: DON’T BE A PERFECTIONIST.
Don’t aim for perfection, aim instead for progress. Repeat after me, “Practice, makes perfect. But nobody’s perfect. Why practice?” Because, Practice makes one progress.
▶︎ Start NOW. Don’t wait for the perfect timing or perfect situation. If you need to be better at something, start, today!
▶︎ Start WHERE YOU ARE. Wherever you are in the organization (or outside of it), begin the journey toward your goals from where you are. You want to be a great leader? Start leading from where you are.
▶︎ Start WITH WHAT YOU HAVE. You want to give to church, charity to the poor. You want to learn something new? Start with what you have. Don’t dream for what’s not there. Use what you already have and work your way up.
Even if you start doing 1% today, and do it consistently for the next 365 days, you’d be 3,778% better than when you started. That’s the power of progress.
Career Hack #11: LEARN HOW TO SELL.
No, I don’t mean, become a salesperson. Have a salesman’s mindset and learn the skill of selling.
Selling skills are life skills.
Here’s what Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” And selling allows you to do just that.
It’s quite simple really; one just has to triple A:
▶︎ Aim to solve people’s problems (start with the right intent. Hint: It’s not about the money)
▶︎ Accept and embrace rejection (it’s not you they reject, it’s probably what you offer)
▶︎ Advance or move on to the next in line (if you truly aim to solve problems, move on to the next one who would gladly accept your help)
Career Hack #12: LEAD WHERE YOU ARE.
Nurture a leadership mindset; regardless whether you’re still in school, applying, entry level, manager, CEO or owner. We’re all born leaders (all children are influencers the moment they were born); but it’s our choice whether we become great at leading or not.
Sadly, we put a LID on top of our leadership capabilities. The only way to pour in and overflow, is if we take off that LID.
▶︎ Always be learning, unlearning, relearning (Learn)
▶︎ You need to manage yourself, to lead others (Influence)
▶︎ Ambition without action is just an illusion (Do it)
Career Hack #13: ONLY LOOK SIDEWAYS WHEN CROSSING THE STREET.
I believe most of us have been guilty of comparing our progress (or the lack of it) against a colleague, a friend, a neighbor or relative. And we get upset or discouraged when we seem to be left behind by those we know.
Next time you feel the urge, do these, instead (in this order):
▶︎ look ABOVE and
▶︎ then look WITHIN,
▶︎ before you go BEYOND; never sideways
God has given you enough to succeed in the race He gave you. Look for those, use them, hone them and enjoy the journey He has prepared, just for you.
Career Hack #14: LEARNING BEFORE EARNING.
Some people run after the salary, the benefits and the perks they will receive from a job. Some hop from one company to another just to get that increase, that bonus. Some say they go for practicality and take on the highest offer.
I understand that in certain cases, these are essential (a sick family member, a debt that needs to be repaid, etc.). But it’s usually not, in most.
Don’t demand or look for a salary you think you deserve. Instead, ask for
▶︎ a chance,
▶︎ a place
▶︎ an opportunity
to learn and hone your talents and skills that will allow you to achieve your full potential.
Here’s the thing, money may buy you things, experiences, properties that would give you some happiness, but the ability to achieve your full potential is what makes life more fulfilling.
And besides, the more you learn, the easier you earn. You still get the earning, when you focus on the learning.
Career Hack #15: STOP TRYING TO BE INTERESTING AND START BEING INTERESTED
Have you been led to believe that to be noticed either by your boss, in social media in school or by someone important, you need to be interesting? I suppose this mentality has led many to pretend to be someone they’re not. Next time you’re in a party, in a meeting or in a conference, instead of trying to impress others by being interesting, be genuinely interested in others.
▶︎Ask more questions, tell less about yourself (it’s not always about you)
▶︎ Be genuinely curious on what others think and know (you’re not a cat, are you?)
▶︎ Control yourself, listen to understand not to reply, (SILENCE is your friend)
Career Hack #16: GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE.
Yeah, I know, it’s a bit cliché. But bear with me and read on.
I read or heard somewhere that “All progress or growth takes place outside the comfort zone.” It does make sense, it’s always scary do something we’re not used to.
Let me tell you a story (since it’s Father’s Day), I learned to swim in a very peculiar way. When I was kid, I was very scared to swim without a floater. One day my father brought me out into the deeper part of the sea, and typical 80’s way of teaching kids, I was thrown to the sea with only my shorts on. I was definitely out of my comfort zone (okay, a little back story, my father knew I can swim, it’s just that I’ve grown used to having a floater to assist me). But that gave me confidence to swim without floaters.
I know the example above is a bit extreme. You may start with these:
▶︎ If you’re an introvert, try to socialize, if you’re an extrovert, get away from the crowd.
▶︎ Hang out with people outside your profession.
▶︎ Have coffee or lunch with a colleague from another department. Ask them about their roles in the organization, the success stories and the challenges they encounter.
Career Hack #17: DON’T JUST BE SMART, WORK HARD TOO!
We are in the information age and most of our incoming workforce have become smart (they know everything; especially when they have an internet connection).
It’s not that hard to be smart, nowadays.
Our society seems to have plenty of smart people to choose from; they come in droves. But what we lack are those who are both smart and hardworking. They’re as rare and valuable as Rhodium (I’m trying to be smart, myself).
If you’re already smart, learn to work hard, too.
▶︎ Take on MENTORS from Generation X, Boomer and Traditionals; get their views on resiliency, grit and perseverance
▶︎ Take on WORK that your classmates, colleagues, or siblings shy away from
▶︎ Take good CARE of your bodies. Eat properly, sleep well and exercise regularly. You cannot work hard with your mind, only
Career Hack #18: CREATE AND NURTURE AUTHENTIC RELATIONSHIPS.
…while you’re at the start of your career.
Keep in mind,
▶︎ nobody’s ever climbed Mt. Everest, alone;
▶︎ nor has any athlete won the Olympics without a team;
▶︎ even bands have “groupies” that cheer for them.
Start building those relationships while you still can. Because it gets harder as you go higher.
Career Hack #19: RESIST ENTITLEMENT MENTALITY.
All of us feel we deserve certain privileges, certain things, rights, and so on. This feeling eventually leads to entitlement mentality. In a sense, we all have the sense of entitlement, some more obvious than others.
We can never probably be free from feeling entitled, but we can reduce it to a level where it’s not affecting our progress.
Here’re are some tips:
▶︎ Replace “I DESERVE”, with “I’M RESPONSIBLE”.
- I deserve to be promoted 👉🏼 I am responsible for my promotion
- I deserve to be treated fairly 👉🏼 I am responsible for my response to other people’s treatment of me.
- I deserve this break 👉🏼 I am responsible to make sure I get some rest.
▶︎ Count your BLESSINGS, every day. Being able to do this, implies two things:
- you know math
- you’re alive
▶︎ Aim to add VALUE to others; it’s always more fulfilling to be on the giving side, rather than being on the receiving end
Career Hack #20: ALWAYS DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
Applying for a job? Trying to close that sale? Eyeing that promotion? You have to do your homework. We can never do away with homework, can we?
Even after graduating from school, doing one’s homework, works! Those who try to cut corners, end up traversing more of it in the long run.
▶︎ Do your research, ask those in the know, questions
▶︎ Prepare beforehand,
▶︎ Invest time, effort, and money in learning
Career Hack #21: YOUR REPUTATION WILL PRECEDE YOU.
It’s inevitable, your reputation or personal brand will precede you.
Whether reputation or personal brand, it should definitely be how you want your future (or current) employer (or customer) to identify you with.
Do you see how companies advertise through billboards? Have you seen the ads in waiting sheds, trains, buses and so on? They all create awareness, don’t they?
Did you know you have something even better? Yes, you probably guessed it, your social media accounts are your own marketing collaterals. And you have the power to advertise yourself at the click of a mouse (I’m a Gen X, okay?)!
But before you do, here are some pointers:
▶︎ Set your personal objective (what makes you want to do this; WHY)
▶︎ Identify where you want be known as; remember this is your advertisement (WHAT)
▶︎ Learn from how others do it; read articles, watch videos, ask an expert (HOW)
Career Hack #22: RUN YOUR OWN RACE.
Burnout is now a medical condition and depression is becoming more prevalent among our young professionals.
Two potential reasons, we spend more time comparing our successes (or the lack of it). Second, we no longer work for survival, most of us look for significance and we hardly get it from the things we accomplish or succeed in.
▶︎ We have our OWN RACE or career to RUN. Look for it and run it.
▶︎ Once we’ve started running it, SET and BEAT our own GOALS; if you don’t,
▶︎ Lastly, aim to FINISH WELL. Life is not a 100-meter dash, it’s a marathon Pace and brace yourself for the long haul.
Career Hack #23: WHAT YOU LACK IN EXPERIENCE, COMPENSATE WITH TOOLS.
Some roles require a certain number of work experience. But you just got out of college or have just started working. Some companies who require this may have valid reasons, while others just forgot they are in the 21st century.
Either way, it pays off to always strive to learn new things in relation to what we do in life (work, family, hobby, ministry, etc.). Don’t just rely on personal experiences, for they vary with circumstances. If you happen to be young and lack you lack the needed experience, better compensate it with essential tools.
Here are some that will make up for your lack of experience (or better yet, add to it)
▶︎ learn principles and frameworks; they never get old, you know
▶︎ learn from other people’s successes and failures;
▶︎ learn another language; regardless whether it’s verbal or coding (you get it?)
There’s a saying, “If your only tool is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail.”
Career Hack #24: FAILURE ISN’T FATAL, SUCCESS ISN’T FINAL.
If you fail, grieve fast. If you have achieved something significant, enjoy the moment.
They are both fleeting and temporary.
Stand up, dust and pinch yourself and do it again.
▶︎ Life will always have something new tomorrow
▶︎ Never allow your defeat today to determine your resolve tomorrow
▶︎ And don’t ever stay inside a success bubble
Career Hack #25: ALWAYS UPDATE YOUR RESUME.
I regularly updated my resume back when I was till an employee; at least once every year.
I made it a habit not because I constantly thought of applying for another job or company (in fact, I only sent my resume and actively applied for a job after graduation).
Here are my reasons for doing it and also why I encourage you to do the same:
▶︎ It allowed me to keep track of my progress, accomplishments and or the lack of it. Nothing beats a reality check that a year has passed, and you have nothing to change in your resume (and I am not referring to the positions).
▶︎ It reminded me where I was, where I am, and where I want to go to next, in terms of my career. I aimed for progress, and not perfection. As long as I was progressing, I am encouraged to do more.
▶︎ This is a Quadrant 2 activity (Stephen Covey). I know that someone might eventually ask for it. Whenever someone does, I don’t lose much time preparing and sending it. No guilt-feelings of updating and sending. I have it ready out of habit, not out of need.
Career Hack #26: COMPETE WITH YOUR COLLEAGUES.
Yes, that’s right, compete with your colleagues.
Competition as an act isn’t the culprit, your intent is. How would having the spirit of competition with the intent to build each other up be a bad idea? Have you ever heard of the proverb, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another”?
Here’s a thought, you owe it to the other person beside you, to perform and contribute. Each time you don’t, they take on more of what you can’t.
Let me illustrate further. If one team member can finish 5 projects, you can only do 3, while the company requires 10. Someone will have to step up to fill in the remaining 2, right? Compete with that person and bring yourself to that level so that no one will have to fill in the gaps for you.
If your intent on competition is to beat others so that you would be regarded better than they the rest; so that you can get on top of the rest, please re-think and re-consider.
▶︎ it pushes you to level up
▶︎ it pushes your colleague to step up
▶︎ it pushes the organization you work for, to keep up
I wouldn’t have progressed as much as I did, had it not been for the colleagues who I look up to and competed with—not for position, but to attain our full potential.
Career Hack #27: LEARN TO FAIL FORWARD.
Most of us are afraid of failing and it prevents us from taking action in some of the most important aspects of our lives. Some live a life within the “safe” zone.
It is said, that growth happens at the edge of our comfort zone.
Here’s something you may use to take that leap into the growth zone, FAIL FORWARD.
Ask these questions, in this order:
▶︎ What’s the worst thing that could happen if I fail?
▶︎ What’s the best outcome if I succeed?
▶︎ What can I live with more, saving myself from the worst thing, or missing out with the best thing?
Always remember, whether you take action and fail, or you don’t, and miss out on what could’ve been, you fail. But whatever your decision would be, make sure it’s something you can live with the rest of your life.
Career Hack #28: FROM WORRIER TO WARRIOR.
Worrying takes up too much of your time, attention and energy without giving any results. Apart from anxiety, depression and fear, one gains nothing else.
The world will never run out of things for us to worry about. But we will waste our lives, living in worry. Let’s fight a good fight as warriors (not endorsing any basketball team, here).
If you want to break free from worrying:
▶︎ Get Right with God
▶︎ Get your finances Right
▶︎ Get your priorities Right
Career Hack #29: NEVER QUIT BECAUSE OF YOUR BOSS.
You’ve probably heard that most people quit because of their boss. Sad to say, even if this is a fact, companies still hire and retain bad bosses. Even sadder, the exodus of high potential talents never prevented bad bosses from thriving in the workplace.
One will hardly find a perfect company, nor see a leader that most motivational quotes here in social media describe. If ever they exist, they don’t come by the dozen.
That’s why, it’s a bad idea to quit because of your boss.
Here’re my reasons, why:
▶︎ You lose the chance to learn patience, resiliency, grit and determination. Character can only be developed and built through adversity, difficulties and challenges. Don’t let you experience kill you, allow it to make you stronger.
▶︎ You lose the opportunity to lead where you are. Why not fill in the leadership vacuum and be the leader that your colleagues, need?
▶︎ You lose the negotiating leverage. When you decide to jump to another company out of desperation, any offer will look good; even if they’re not. Beggars, cannot be choosers.
“Quit ONLY when you have an opportunity already lined up–better than what you have right now.”
Career Hack #30: AIM AT HAVING BOTH SUBSTANCE AND FORM.
Jim Collins, I believe, was the one who introduced the concept, “Tyranny of the OR, Genius of the AND”. I apply this in most cases; this is one of those cases.
It’s not true that we have to choose between substance and form. The last time I checked, there were no laws that prevent anyone from being the complete package. A person with great substance and impeccable form.
Your form will make people look, while your substance keeps them hooked. Most of the Career Hacks I posted are about substance. Now let’s talk a little about how to develop your image.
▶︎ Dress appropriately. If you’re not at the level of Mark Z., Richard B., Gary V., Jeff B. and the likes, you need to think about how you dress for a meeting, an interview, sales call or speaking engagement.
▶︎ Eat well and exercise, regularly. There are hundreds, if not thousands of chemical reactions happening in our body, daily. Our diet and activities affect these reactions; and these reactions affect how we feel and how we fell affects how we make others feel about us.
▶︎ Get enough rest. According to science, we need to have enough rest or sleep. And it varies with age and activity. The amount of rest you have affects not only your outlook, it also affects how you look. You may refer here: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/how-many-hours-of-sleep-are-enough/faq-20057898
Career Hack #31: GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER ON THE SIDE WHERE WE NURTURE THEM.
Have you (more than twice in less than five years),
🔲 moved from one company to another because you felt they’re not taking care of you?
🔲 moved from one company to another for higher salary, better benefits, ?
🔲 found yourself wishing your current company would follow the advice of most of the posts you see here in social media?
If you answered YES to at least one of these questions, then you might need to have a self-check. Companies are comprised by people; and the people inside are the ones that influence the companies. That includes, you!
Think really hard. The grass where you currently are might not be green or greener because:
▶︎ Instead of contributing to the growth, you’re sucking the life out of it.
▶︎ The moment your colleagues start planting and watering it, you eat them (worse, you step on them).
▶︎ You spend more time looking at the other side of the fence instead of looking at the greens that are already in front of you.
You may also want to check out #31DaysofLeadership: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/31-leadership-hacks-jeff-manhilot/
For more thoughts and tips, follow the hashtags: #Leadingwhereyouare, #Leadingwithapurpose, #JeffManhTalks #SALT
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