Many people are scouring the internet and trying to find books on how to attain job security or move quickly up the career ladder. While there is a plethora of literature available on this topic, in my experience I've found that the fundamental strategy for career success does not change across industries. Through my interactions with multiple employers and helping to prepare young graduates for the job market I've identified three simple skills that companies are seeking in entry-level candidates. Most companies are also training their existing employees to mater these skills for leadership within their organizations. Essentially, if you can help a company solve an existing problem, effectively communicate why you want to contribute to their business, and do these things with some creativity, you can be successful in any line of work.
All bosses enjoy having people on their team who contribute to the bottom line. If you notice your team members or even your boss struggling with something that might come easy to you, gently offer your assistance. As you go about the business of doing your job, periodically observe the system. If you notice weakness or opportunities for improvement, make a note and get to work at finding a solution! After you find what you think is the answer, test it out. For example, in my job one of my observations was that our customers weren't using our online system because it was down right confusing! As I worked through my tasks each week, I set aside time to "test/tweak" the system. I found ways to make our system/site more user-friendly and appealing. I eventually showed it to my boss (in beta), provided the team with instruction on how the improvements worked, and explained why those changes were beneficial. My boss agreed and we updated the site which in turn gets much more traffic. The moral of the story is, find solutions, work out the kinks first and show your boss the benefits! This should minimally give you a positive rating during performance review time!
While helping to solve problems might yield high ratings, it won't give you a winning personality! Passion will take you even further in the quest for career/professional success. Passion for what you do will make tough tasks and long days easier to bear. It will also keep you going as you deal with the sometimes mundane activities we all get bogged down with, like e-mail, reports and staff/team meetings. Passion and excitement are contagious; you might even make work more enjoyable for the people around you. If you aren't in a job that you are passionate about, focus on things you enjoy about your work. More importantly-be a pleasure to work with and/or for. When the people you work for, the clients/customers you serve always speak highly of you----> you are WINNING (A little Charlie Sheen humor)!
Lastly, I think that innovation is the cornerstone of business. It keeps the economy, industries and business moving forward. What does that mean for you-well simply stated, BE INNOVATIVE! More specifically, innovation is a quality that can manifest in many forms and in many lines of work. What I am suggesting is that you think critically AND creatively! Many employers report those two things as characteristics they seek in candidates across all industries. A few simple ways to do this are to stay "fresh" and current, especially in technology. Both new and seasoned employees should follow the trends, tools & techniques within their industries and investigate whether or not those things would have a positive impact in the way you do business if you started using or practicing those new tricks of the trade. I would also like to suggest that, those professionals who are further along in their careers should not be afraid of advances in technology, but embrace it and find a way to make it work for you.
People have asked me numerous times, what's the key to successful career growth or transitions. My suggestion to them is to Keep It Simple. You don't have to be an overachiever, but you should do a few things very well. Innovation, passion & creativity are assets that any employer would appreciate. Overall, find creative ways to make work easier, efficient, effective and fun for you, your team and your boss.
Stephanie D Reed received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Johnson C. Smith University and her Master of Arts in Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Stephanie has 15 years work experience in career counseling and as a Territory Sales Manager for Philip Morris, USA. Follow Stephanie's blog - (http://aspire2higher.wordpress.com/)