There’s a load of information available on job hunting, interviews, resumés, LinkedIn and all the things that can help you get hired. Let’s say you crushed that and got in the door. Now what? How do you set up your career for success and make sure your salary is not the same 5 years later? Here are three crucial moves to make during your first two years on the job. Learn how to grow from rookie to rockstar.
The over-arching point to remember here is that attention is currency. You need gather the right kind of attention then spend it wisely.
1. Get attached to a high visibility project, event, or team.
From the day you touch the ground or even before you arrive, start analysing what and who makes the company tick. At any given time there will be several teams and activities happening in the organisation. Focus your networking around those that generate the most money or the ones that get attention from clients or high level internal executives. This is a good clue that these are closer to the money line and the people involved can leverage the attention for career growth.
You can spend all your time doing great work on something that the right people don’t care about. However that’s not going to get you from rookie to rockstar. Instead, figure out which activities matter most to the company’s value chain and plug in there. If you can figure out how to help the company make more money, save money or how to make the team look good then you are laying the ground work for serious growth.
Here are some questions to guide you. What is the company doing to maintain its competitive advantage? Is there something you see competitors doing better? What are some major problems the organisation is trying to solve? Is there a flagship event that happens annually in the company or industry? If there is no signature event, can you create one? These are things you can investigate as you are networking to figure out how to get closer to the money line. Remember, genuine networking takes time and is not transactional. Lead with value before you ever make an ask. Relationship before results.
2. Publish a piece of relevant content
A great way to separate yourself from your peers and gain points by making the company look good is to publish a piece of relevant content for your organisation or industry. This can be something internally useful for your team, such as a summary of some complex concepts that people are too busy to research. Or, how about analysing a hot topic in the industry and presenting some possible solutions with their pros and cons. Consider an infographic explaining a process or idea.
This is wide open. You can publish directly to your LinkedIn profile as an article, then share it in related groups, and with appropriate persons in your company. Also consider approaching your leaders to have you create the content and publish it in a magazine or other recognised medium from the company. You get the visibility and the company gets positioned as a knowledge leader for the industry and clients.
The person who is talking is the expert, so even if you know there are more qualified people available, speak up and claim the space like a boss. Get creative! If you have other skills in graphics, video or podcasting take them to the office and execute.
3. Secure two face to face meetings with high level executives
To grow fast, you’ll need mentors and even more so, sponsors. These people are not your office friends and you may not speak as frequently, but your name needs to be on their radar. When a big project, bonus, promotion or other decision is on the line, they should be familiar enough with you and your work that your name creates pause and excitement. A power tip here is that secretaries and personal assistant are gate keepers. Treat them well! High level executives are busy and trust the gate keepers to filter who and what is important enough to get their attention. Scoring that coffee or lunch meeting may mean building a relationship with the gate keepers first. Another power tip is to find out what the executives are working on and send some information that will be useful around that topic.
In these meetings you want to have a give and take posture. Bounce a few ideas and observations you’ve made about the company and industry that you believe would be useful. Also, get their perspective on what makes the company tick, where it’s going, and how you can play a bigger role in accomplishing that goal. Consider these questions: What’s your best advice for someone at my level in the firm? What should I be thinking about in the short and long term to build a successful career here? What you do think contributed most to your own career growth? What are we really in the business of? What’s the next big thing on our plate?
Time is precious so be prepared to change the meeting format. It may be lunch, coffee, a brief chat in their office, or the classic “Can I walk with you?”. Whatever the case, connect with at least two people a few levels above you face to face so they can see how you handle yourself and know you’re hungry.
Work these three things into your first two years and get ready to grow from rookie to rockstar.