Category: Career Pages

The Eleventh Commandment – Ameliorate Thyself

You’ve landed the job, you’ve been there 6 months –  a year – two years,  but you’ve suddenly become bored.  Suddenly you start to question how you managed to slave through an undergrad program (possibly a graduate program), bust your butt to land the entry level position you are sitting in, and are now wondering, is this it????

No.  That’s not it.  For there is so much more.  I mean, if you’re arriving on time everyday, doing your work and signing off at 5 pm, well then that might be it.  Eventually (maybe) in about ten or so years, someone may realize that you still work there and might suggest (“suggest”) another position that may interest you.  IF you are looking to move up within a company, however, you need to ensure that you stand out among the rest.  How do YOU stand out from everyone else?   What separates YOU from your fellow peers and co-workers??  This isn’t a time for you to become snakey or competitive (not the bad competitive, anyway), but it is a time for you start thinking about what you can do with yourself to keep ahead of the crowd.  Remember that every year you are sitting in your current position, seemingly comfortable, there are a fresh batch of graduates graduating every three or four months.  You need to stay fresh, educated and with the times – keyboarding skills sharp; communication and language skills on point; attire nice and professional, and while you’re at it, learn a new language or two.

If you’re walking hand and hand with everyone else, and a very attractive offer or position comes to the table, how are you so sure you even have a fighting chance to secure that position?   Think about being at the grocery store .  You’re looking for apples.  You’re going to pick the freshest, healthiest looking apples of the bunch.  The ripest of the bunch.  When they all look just as dull and young (the apples, I mean) as the rest, you tend to have a very hard time choosing one, or might even bypass them altogether, opting for an orange.

So your homework – your challenge is to sit down and write what steps you will take to keep ameliorating your performance.  What positive steps will you take to keep yourself afloat and a head of the crowd.  Enroll in some courses.  If your work offers free continuing education programs, take advantage of one.  All of these extras can be added to the resume and can work wonders for you.  If your resume is outdated and it’s because you haven’t been doing anything to improve your skills in the last little while, you need to get crackin!

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WARNING…OFFICE BANTER…STAY BACK 10 METERS!!!

So you’re looking to climb the corporate ladder but can’t help getting caught up on the latest office drama at the water cooler – or you get that “Meet me in the lunch room in five, I have to tell you what I just heard” email from a co-worker.  This isn’t the way.  Stay as far away from office politics as possible.  Sabotage may have been the old way of getting ahead, but that has been long replaced with teamwork and professionalism.

Developing good rapport with your co-workers is just as important as having a good rapport with your boss.  The object is to “stand out” but in a good way.  Be known for  taking part in different committees or taking on extra tasks and assignments; giving good feedback at a meeting, but not for write-ups, quarantined emails with swear words and naughty jokes, or gossip.  If that’s who you are outside of work (the latter, not the former), I suggest you switch roles for your 9-5 if you aim to keep it.  I, myself, am a woman of many hats.  There’s the business side of me, the mom and the diva.  We all have the ability to switch it up now and again.  The Diva will never come out at work, but she will come out when I’m out with my girlfriends having fun or at a Timmies drive thru and my order was mistaken for the umpteenth tim – I’m sure you catch my drift.

You don’t need to be concerned with who is dating who in the office or whether you think your boss may be cheating on her husband, or even if you think the FEDex guy is gay – NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.  Make your work your business and you will see how fast you reap the rewards.

On the flip side, if you love the drama and you can’t seem to stay away from it no matter how hard you try, then maybe the office isn’t the place for you – BUT theatre school may be.

Don’t Fake it to Make it…too far

In other words, if you are living far beyond your means, now may be a good time for a good old fashion reality check.  Working in certain industries or in the City can have this effect.  We tend to want to dress and act like our superiors.  Naturally as human beings, we like to feel that sense of belonging.  We flock to people we can relate to; whom we share things in common with, and in our society BRANDS define status.

Working Downtown and in the legal industry, I have become an expert in telling the real thing from the fake.  I can spot a pair of Stuart Weitzman’s in the middle of rush hour on the subway platform.  I can tell a real Louis Vuitton laptop case from a fake one, and I often feel that people can do the same.  I, for one, have always been a fan of quality – I like the quality of the merchandise more so than the name, and while a pair of Nine West or Steve Madden shoes may feel slightly more comfortable than a pair of Aldo shoes for me, I know when I have reached my limit.  I know if I am opting for the Nine West shoes, I am walking away with one pair as oppose to two, had I opted for Aldo shoes.   It’s whatever works for you, but the important thing to remember is to live within your budget.  If you want to opt for quality and choose the name brands, be sure to have a sufficient amount banked for all the other important stuff – you know like FOOD, bills, rent/mortgage payments, yoga classes and savings.  We all know there is no worse feeling than the feeling of overspending and then having to do a full-closet-inventory of what can be returned….

So how does one know when they’re living outside of their means?  Buyers remorse is a good indication, and if you’re feeling a whole lot of it.  Another way to tell is if you find that you are just generally over-spending.  Not everything that’s left over needs to be spent.  Assess the need for the item and why you are making the purchase.  Some retail therapy is okay, but if you find yourself needing retail therapy more than three times a week, maybe you should consider real therapy to target the real issue that is causing the need for the retail therapy.  And then finally assess the amount of the purchase value in comparison to your take home pay – enough said.

There are many alternatives to buying brand labels and still being able dress well.  For every black blazer Tristan sells for $300, you can find a more affordable one for closer to $60 and for every $150 pair of trousers, you can find a pair for $40.  Stick within your means.  Confidence doesn’t come from the clothes you wear, but the money in your BANK!

Rule # 1

Don’t Dress Better Than Your Boss

Sounds odd doesn’t it?  Especially since we’re often told to dress for the job we want not the job we have.  Though the former is true, dressing better than your boss (perhaps not your supervisor, but your BOSS) is a NO NO.

Follow your Employer’s dress code policies to the tee.  Formal is formal; Business casual is business casual and not to be confused with casual. If your boss shows up to the office midday in a pair of POLO khakis and a golf shirt because he spent the morning at the golf range, this does not mean you show up following day in your lululemon pants and a tanky, no – but what I am saying is if your boss is not wearing a Grafton or an Yves St Laurent suit to work everyday, you shouldn’t be either.  If you just happen to dress that way normally every day of your life, tone it down a little.  It is important that you know your place in the office, and business attire says everything – NOT TO BE MISTAKEN OR MIS-INTERPRETED – you must still dress your best (Simply put, your job is not to upstage your boss).  This is just another one of those “Corporate Faux-pas” that you should be in-tune to.