39 Days to a Better Job

By Carlos Portocarrero

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Today I’m excited to announce a new series of posts dedicated to helping you boost your career. For the next 39 days I’ll be posting actionable tips you can execute on that will make you a more valuable (and happier) employee—whether you want to find a new job or turn your current one around.

Posts will include:

  • How to work more efficiently
  • Tools and software to help you along your way
  • Automating tasks so you have more time
  • Networking 3.0: how to do it right
  • How to make sure you’re not underpaid

There’s a log of good stuff here, so if you want to make sure you don’t miss any of them sign up for the Ninja Newsletter and I’ll send you a weekly recap of all the tips:

To kick things off, we’re going to start with a basic tip that everyone should do on a continuous basis to make sure you’re aware of how your job is evolving in the marketplace.

Find Yourself

Girl touching reflection in water

You have a job…congratulations! Now you need to make sure you stay up to date on the kinds of skills other people in your field and in your role are developing. If you let yourself become stale, it’s the beginning of the end for you.

And I don’t just mean it for the job you have, but your career in general.

You know that guy who walks into the office and is all excited to announce that he finally saw Lost and wow, you guys should really check out that show because it’s really quite good?

Don’t be that guy.

The tip: Make sure you know what’s happening in your field and in your particular job. It’s not hard, you just have to schedule it.

Timing: This shouldn’t take more than an hour of your time…unless you discover that you’re woefully behind.

Follow the Coders’ Lead

Developers (some call them programmers) do this all the time because technology moves so quickly. I don’t envy them—it seems like a new language comes out every few months that’s all the rage and employers (who don’t know squat about most of this stuff) will always ask about it.

So do you know Ruby on Rails? We love Ruby on Rails! You should know Ruby on Rails…

It’s annoying, but you know what? Every good developer I’ve ever worked with stays on top of these new languages that are always sprouting up…and it’s not easy.

What You Can Do

This tip is called “Find Yourself,” and that’s exactly what you should do: just pretend you’re looking for a job in your role and see what comes up. Browse through Craigslist or an industry-specific job board to see what kinds of qualifications and skills are required.

Take note of:

  • The “must have” skills that candidates absolutely need to have…do you have them?
  • Are you really good at the “must have” skills?
  • What about the “would be nice” skills?
  • What type of software is mentioned?
  • Do you know what all the acronyms stand for?

If you notice that certain skills or software packages are popping up a lot and you don’t know much about them: learn them! There is so much training and documentation online that it is not hard to keep up with this stuff.

And if it’s something super complex that will take a long time to learn, then at least know about it in case someone asks you: better to know about something than to be completely clueless.

Reviewing around 10 job openings that match your role should give you a good idea of the kinds of things employers are looking for in someone like you. Being proactive and keeping up with the hiring trends is something your employer should appreciate.

But even if they don’t, you’ll be better off because if you ever decide to move on (or are forced to), you’ll know exactly what’s out there and you should be in a better place to find a new gig.

Added Bonus

Doing this kind of audit once a quarter or every couple of months should also give you a good sense of what the market is for your position.

If you see a lot of openings, congratulations! You’re in high demand.

Can’t find any postings for your role? Maybe there’s a reason for it.

Again…you should know these things. No one should know your job better than yourself.

Image by Fenanov

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