How to Build a Successful Career as an Employee

Whether you are in the lowest position, or you own your own business, there are important concepts we can integrate into our working lives to produce better results. This will not only increase how valuable we are in the job market, but it will also increase our value to our current employer. We will get more raises, bonuses and promotions as we progress through our lives, because we are constantly improving what we know and how we work.

It is my hope that you take something helpful from this article. This is not written from the perspective of someone who has this mastered, and I am in no way inferring that I have all of this figured out. I am simply reflecting on my experience and what I’ve learned from other people, and sharing that through this article.

There are times when we need to take or keep a job because we need to feed our family. However, this should not be a long term solution. Going to a job simply to receive a paycheck is not going to motivate you and it is usually not enough to take you to the top (at least not for very long).

Below are the top five things that will make you the BEST EMPLOYEE at the company you work for (whichever company that may be):

#1. Know Where You Are Going

If you don’t know where you are going, how in the world will you know if you will like the destination? Where will you be in one, two, five or ten years? Obviously experience can help us determine what we want to do in a career. But there needs to come a time when we have decided our path and what our strengths and weaknesses are, and pursue that path with all our energy. Does this mean we will always have a job that we like 100% of the time? No. But we can’t forget to evaluate our current job scenario and ask ourselves if this is taking us where we want to go. If you can’t answer that, than you really should do some soul searching in figuring out what you will do with all the time you will be putting into spending the day working. What would you really like to do with the 40+ hours per week that we give to our career?

If you aren’t on the path that you would like to be on to get you to your dream career, make an action plan in how you can get on this path. It doesn’t have to be immediate, but you should get on this ASAP. Spending a lot of time going nowhere is not doing you any good.

This also should include evaluating your strengths and weaknesses. I am of the opinion that we as individuals, cannot be masters of everything. It is in the best interest of ourselves and our employer to know our weaknesses and our strengths. I highly suggest you buy the book Strength Finders 2.0 and take the test. It has been life changing for me and everyone should read this book.

#2. Constantly Learn and Educate Yourself

It is worthless to know what you want to do, if you aren’t attempting to master your field. It is like going on a road trip in your car, but not filling up your car with gas. This can be as simple as reading books or articles online, or interviewing experts in your field. We need to look at education as a pathway instead of a destination. This is something we should be pursuing our whole lives, regardless of our career path.

Generally speaking people want to help other people, and often times all it takes is just to find someone that has mastered the field you want to go into (or are in already), and ask them if they would be willing to “mentor” you in this field. You can ask them questions like, “what do you wish you new one, two or five years ago that you know now?”.

It is not a good spot to be limiting how much you know based strictly on what you are specifically doing at work. This easily allows other employees to bring up good ideas that may not be complicated, but just require an active mind searching for knowledge and tools to add to their toolbox. The more tools you have (ideas, know how, etc…) the more value you will be to your current employer and possibly other employers who would be willing to pay someone a lot of money for that expertise.

#3. Core Fundamental Skills: Reliability, Dependability, Communication and Trustworthiness

Some people would say that these things should be “common sense”, but it has been my experience that these are things very few employees practice. If you learn to make a habit in applying these core principles to everything you do at your job, this will become extremely valuable to your employer. Even if you are not the best in your field, if you have these attributes, you can often times get the job promotion over someone else who is better than you in your field, but doesn’t have these core fundamental skills. Don’t underestimate how important this is as an employee!

An example of doing this would be in getting to work 15 minutes early everyday, and not taking off immediately when it turns 5:00 PM. Your employer will notice this, even if they do not mention it. And it will be even more obvious if you are working with people who are not on time, or seem to always leave right when it turns 5:00 PM.

Looking at my past job experience, this has been one thing that I have excelled at. I have seen these specific attributes allow me to get raises, bonuses and promotions over other employees who have been at the company longer. This isn’t because I am a genius, but because I have worked hard at these core fundamental principles.

Communication can also be a huge factor, especially if you work with customers. But it doesn’t just end there. How you communicate with your co-workers and your supervisor is also important. You want people to speak highly of you when your name is brought up in conversations, at least in regards to your job at the company.

#4. Actively Pursue Increasing Productivity

What can every person who has a job work at? Becoming more productive! But very few people actually work on this or ask themselves this question.

What do you do everyday that wastes time? How can you get more done in less time? Actively seek ideas about how you can be more productive. How can you make the product you produce more valuable to the company and to the consumer?

Discuss these things with your supervisor or boss. This will not only make you a more valuable employee, but this is a great learning experience that goes beyond your current employment. Integrating this habit and mind set into your daily work life is an infinitely valuable characteristic.

#5. Become Organized

Depending on what you do will determine how organized you should be. But the fact of the matter is that every job requires some organization in some way or form (or at least could be improved if it was done in a more organized manner). People who do a job well, have learned how to organize things to come up with better results.

Let’s take the most simple job scenario: being a dishwasher for a restaurant. You may be thinking that there is no way you can be more organized with a job like this and improve what you do. But do you think that if you loaded the dishwasher more efficiently, where you were able to load more dishes in the dishwasher and have the dishes come out clean, that this would be valuable to the restaurant? Absolutely!

Along with organization, I have learned from personal experience that being organized has allowed me to better handle my weaknesses. For example, I know that I can easily get overwhelmed if I am constantly interrupted with additional changes or things that I need to work on constantly throughout the day. One habit that I’ve formed is to not always have my email open (to where I immediately see new emails comes in), and to not always answer my phone when I don’t need to. These two things have increased my productivity, but I would not have noticed them if I was not organized enough to see how much of an effect they have on my day.

Note taking, task lists, email management, handling meetings, etc…all can be improved if we learn to be a more organized. Especially for those of us who are not naturally organized (like myself)!
The key here is that we should be proactive with our career. Success in a career doesn’t just “happen”. It takes hard work, dedication and focus. Otherwise you will be giving your dream job(s) away to other candidates who maybe are not as talented as you, but end up having other skills that make up for their deficiencies.

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2 thoughts on “How to Build a Successful Career as an Employee

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