Sarah, a fresh graduate from NUS has been looking for a job since May. She decided to settle for an admin job in the end because she just couldn’t find anything else. Does that sound familiar to you?
Are you one of those young PMEs who are (according to Patrick Tay, Director of NTUC’s PME Unit) “doing jobs that are under their abilities” with “salary and remuneration that may not commensurate with the skills they have and how qualified they are, as well as their experience”?
In a previous article, we’ve highlighted the need for fresh grads and working adults alike to possess more than just their qualifications to succeed in their career; we advocated getting into a job and working hard, but like some say, you have to work smart as well, not just hard.
In this article, we would like to propose 6 avenues you can consider when advancing in your career. This list is, of course, not exhaustive and meant to be taken as guidelines, not rules set in stone.
Go above and beyond your duty
Often used by satisfied customers for frontline personnel such as customer service or nurses who went the extra mile for their customers, if you are doing this consistently in your work as a front line service staff, you’d definitely be slated for the next promotion to team leader.
For fellow workers in the backend or middle-end positions, in order to truly move far in your career, you’d have to follow this mantra as well. If you just hand in and do what you are supposed to do and stop there, it definitely makes it harder for your bosses to justify promoting you to the next level. After all, you must never forget that even if we do not belong to the frontline positions, we still have one main ‘customer’ to face – our bosses; if we don’t keep them happy, not only do we not get to move up but we might even have to move out.
When you’re at work, you tend to get bombarded with ad-hoc tasks and “urgent” matters throughout the day. You’d find yourself swamped with work and doing huge amounts of overtime (OT) with nothing to show for it.
Get a personal system in place and learn to differentiate between important tasks and tasks which can actually be done at a later time. Learn time management skills and you’d find that you can complete more tasks and produce better results in a shorter time frame. Don’t believe us? Try it out for yourself. Just google for “time-management skills” and you’d have plenty of tips and hacks streaming onto your computer screen.
Have you heard of lifelong learning? I’m sure you have, and no, it’s not just about an 80-year-old going back to school to get his degree or a 65-year-old mom who went back to school for education. It’s about this: self-upgrade. As Einstein once said, once you stop learning, you start dying; and this is true for us, literally; once you stop learning, you start dying, career-wise because you’ve become obsolete. Always keep a lookout for opportunities to develop your own personal or professional skills.
Of course, when you’re working, you might not have so much disposable cash on hand, especially if you’re still paying off your study loan or saving up for a wedding; and self-upgrade courses can cost quite a bit. Here’s our suggestion, search for courses that are directly relevant to your work and approach your direct superior to check if the department can send you for the courses.
Alternatively, you can also look towards other resources. One such resource is the SkillsFuture Credit that every Singaporean citizen aged 25 years and above will have in 2016; $500 will be credited to them to pay for work-skills related courses by WDA, post-secondary educational institutions, and other public agencies. There are also plans for periodic top ups of the SkillsFuture Credit account.
Another alternative is to check out courses from NTUC Learning Hub and e2i (which recently launched a self-learning online platform for PMEs). You can also sign up with NTUC’s PME Unit where they not only provide up-to-date information about the working landscape of today, but networking sessions as well through NTUC’s Future Leaders Summit & Series.
For example, if you’re intending to move up in a certain industry (e.g. F&B), you can get in touch with e2i on the various industry masterclasses they’re organizing to upskill professionals.
Go for networking sessions
Do not, we repeat, do not be constrained by your workplace. It’s easy to forget that there’s a whole wide world out there, even within your industry, when you go to work at the same place each day from 9-5 every single day. Go for networking sessions and meet people from the same industry, get your name out there and if you managed to connect to the right people, you might just find yourself getting a valuable connection for your company or hopping to the desired position that you’ve always been wanting.
But going for networking sessions is only half of the equation, the other half is, of course, determined by how you network. Subscribe to groups and influencers who bring you the latest news and happenings within your industry and research on the person whom you would want to connect to. For example, you wouldn’t want to attend a networking session at the NTUC’s Future Leaders Summit and meet the Group CEO of DBS, only to babble and leave a bad impression of yourself, would you?
Always be on the lookout for new opportunities
If you’re offered a project that seems completely out of your job scope, don’t think of it as extra work, instead think of them as an opportunity to learn. After all, you’d realize that while the rewards might seem insignificant now, it might prove to be a big boon to you in the future – You might learn new skills outside your current scope that makes you viable for a promotion to a higher position with more responsibilities, or it could add to your personal repertoire of skills, which in turn adds to your personal value and employability, all in all a win-win solution for you as an employee.
In fact, don’t wait for such opportunities to come to you; keep a lookout for them and grab them with your two hands. If they’re projects that will benefit you, volunteer for them e.g. organizing the company’s annual D&D; don’t think of it as sai gang, think of it as a chance to know people higher up in the food chain.
It’s all about the mindset
Ultimately, all we’ve just said can be summed up in one word – mindset. Possess or develop the correct mindset, and you’d realize that before long, your career will take off.
Be opportunistic (in the good way, of course) and always look towards being a better person today than you were yesterday; develop good habits like reading and time management, and learn to differentiate between what is important and what is less important. Never be afraid to seem too wayang when you volunteer for work because to submit to peer pressure is a one-way ticket to hentak kaki in your career.
One last thing to note is this: you must know when it’s time to stop and recharge before going on full steam again; because if you don’t, you’d find yourself burning out soon enough. It’s just like running 2.4km during IPPT, if you don’t pace yourself and sprint immediately the moment you start, you’d find yourself walking even before you’ve even completed 3 rounds, coming in long after everyone else has out pro at the administrative counter.
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