Chapter 12 From Job Search Success to Career Success


Getting a Job Is Only One Step to Building a Career

The first eleven chapters of this book are dedicated to getting you a job. The right job is critical to career success because it is the springboard from which you will learn important skills, develop key relationships, and demonstrate your achievements. Your career will include many jobs. Even if you stay at the same organization for the duration of your career until you retire, your job will change. You may take on more responsibility and start managing people and budgets. The company may change its focus and ask you to work on different projects.

Therefore, to build a career, it is not sufficient to know how to get any one job. You also must know how to do the following things:

  • Succeed and do well in the job you have.
  • Develop, expand, and maintain professional relationships.
  • Steer your career advancement—ask for a promotion, a raise, and a performance review.
  • Secure your job during difficult economic times.
  • Manage work conflicts—difficult colleagues, privacy and confidentiality issues, and discrimination or harassment.
  • Have a life as well as a career.
  • Obtain your next job, whether in the same organization or outside it.

This chapter gives strategies and tips for you to manage your career once you get a job. To do well on the job, you need to make a strong impression in your first ninety days. You need to transition to your new workplace. You need be clear about expected results and how these will be measured. You need to establish good communication with your boss.

You also want to develop, expand, and maintain relationships outside your immediate boss. You want mentorsA wise and trusted counselor. other than your immediate boss. You likely will have colleagues in your department and outside it. Your boss has a boss, and there might be other people in senior management or leadership positions (you ultimately work for everyone in positions above you, even if not on a day-to-day basis). You may have customer contact. You may work with vendorsProvide products or services to an organization, for example, a software vendor might provide the inventory management system for a manufacturing company. or consultantsWork with an organization but not as an employee. They might be onsite and appear to do the same work as an employee, but consultants are not on payroll and have other clients. that work with or for the organization. You also want to have professional relationships outside your organization, such as other people who work in your functional area or industry.

You shouldn’t assume that if you do a good job, people will know about it. You have to proactively manage your career with advancement in mind. Some organizations have structured performance reviewsAn evaluation of your work performance. This can be done verbally, in writing, or online., and you should know how to optimize these meetings. Some organizations do not have built-in ways for you to get feedback, so you need to learn how to ask for feedback. Some organizations have a well-defined process for granting raisesA new, higher salary. and promotionsA new, higher title that reflects more responsibility or increased influence.. Sometimes, however, you need to initiate a request for a raise or promotion.

Just because you have a job now doesn’t mean you will keep your job. The United States has employment at willWhen you are employed at will, you can be fired for any reason or no specific reason as long as there is no evidence of discrimination against a protected minority group or class. You can also quit for any reason or no specific reason., which means that organizations can hire or fire you for any reason or no specific reason as long as there is no evidence of discrimination against a protected minority group or class. It also means that you can quit for any reason or no specific reason. Therefore, you cannot look to the government or some regulatory agency to secure your job. You need to make your organization want to retain you. You need to notice the signs of an impending layoffTermination of an employee due to reasons unrelated to that employee’s specific performance. so you can protect yourself accordingly. You need to know what to do if you lose your job unexpectedly so you can get the most support possible from your employer during the transition.

An unexpected layoff is not the only potential challenge you will face. You will spend a lot of your time in your work environment, so problems and conflicts will inevitably arise. It is important to have a sense of some common workplace problems. While each case should be managed individually, we’ll cover a general roadmap for dealing with some of the more common challenges that arise.

You will be spending so much of your time at your job that you may start focusing exclusively on your job. You might neglect your personal relationships outside work, your own health and self-care, and your personal life. It is important to maintain a healthy balance between professional and personal responsibilities. You need to take care of friends and family, your health, your home, and your finances.

Sometimes, despite proactive career management, good relationships, and a healthy life outside work, you still need to leave your job. It might have been a great job when you started, but you have grown and your job hasn’t kept up. Perhaps the organization has changed. Maybe you want to do something different. You want to manage your career such that you have choices when you look for your next job. You want to have a strong network that is willing and able to help you. You want to have strong skills and qualifications that are attractive to prospective employers. You want to be learning and growing so that you are valuable to more than just your current organization.