Coordinator. Assistant. Associate. (Contractor). These are the words in job titles that career-driven professionals use as fuel to get them to the next stepping-stone. Tenacity and passion will take you places, but will they get you ahead in your career by themselves? What are some practical things that could help bring those strivings to fruition?
Become the Master of the Mundane
It can be difficult to handle the monotonous elements of your job. When you first get into an entry-level role, you typically start off with the fundamentals listed on the description of the role to which you applied. It looks something like this:
Job Responsibilities Include:
- Schedule coordination between multiple departments
- Supporting such-and-such team with processing invoices
- Updating the bi-weekly newsletter
- Another task you’re not that excited about
- Another task you don’t find much value in
While you’re excited to dive into the nitty-gritty, it’s essential to lay out a broad and sturdy foundation. This ensures success and establishes credibility. If supervisors and managers see that you can execute your basic tasks flawlessly, they’ll take note and start to trust you with more.
Practical Application: Be extremely organized from your desk being spotless, keeping to-do lists, and papers being neatly filed, to libraries of well-organized e-folders, e-mail templates, and Excel checklists. Labeling and color coordinating are highly recommended! Organization and detail orientation is the key to mastering the mundane.
Bite off precisely what you can chew
Once you’ve mastered the mundane, you’ll have a more accurate gauge of your bandwidth. What you don’t want to do is go overboard on this next tip. It might be the death of your career.
As you become an expert at what you do, it will inevitably start taking less time to get those things done. This will free up a bit of time to take on additional projects or tasks.
Practical Application: If you’re a Production Coordinator with dreams of being a full-fledged Director of Production, you might first reach out to an Associate Producer and ask if they simply need help with any of their tasks.
Talk to your manager. Let them know what interests you. Ask if there are opportunities to offer any support on those projects. This will lead to a slow dispensation of tasks outside of the original scope of your responsibilities. View these tasks as opportunities to showcase your capabilities.
Be careful not to bite off more than you can chew
It might look impressive that an entry-level employee is proactive, but if a manager or associate chooses to trust you with something new, and you’re not quite ready for it, this can backfire. The best managers will have realistic expectations of you, but it’s best to take on only what you know you can handle.
On the other side of that coin, you don’t want to sell yourself short. Never lack the confidence to challenge yourself. Spend enough time on the “mundane” so you have that certainty.
At this point, you may choose to stay content with your basic job responsibilities. Some people are truly happy in that place and essentially become the “Yoda” of their position. Usually, people love working with them because they’ve devoted their time to establishing their credibility. But if you’re eager to advance in your career, read on.
Present ideas and make them happen
Mastering your day-to-day activities and volunteering for other projects will help you get noticed. The thing that gets you ahead in your career is leading a project of your own. As you spend time with a company, you learn their processes, become familiar with their culture, and establish that oh-so-important credibility.
With all this intel and support, you should be well equipped to present something new. Present a solution to an ongoing problem, a creative idea, an innovative asset, or a new process.
Practical Application: You’ve noticed there are consistent issues in a process and you think you have a solution. Share it. Help it get implemented. For example, you’re an HR Assistant and you notice that morale seems low. You think it might be because of stress. Suddenly, you have this great idea to host an onsite seminar on relaxation or to book a calming yoga class.
Don’t just share
Come with a plan and offer to spearhead it. Chances are, management might think your idea is great but they don’t have their own bandwidth to make it happen. YOU do.
Get noticed and get ahead in your career
Do your job well, then take on more. If you want to get ahead in your career, then come up with an idea and run with it! The hardest part is working through this with patience. The road is often long and hard, but tenacity and passion will carry you through.