First win the Job

When jobs are hard to find just getting one seems the height of ambition, but real winners use the opening as the starting point to a fulfilling – and rewarding – career.

The upward progression of the corporate winner is not a matter of luck or a question of being in the right place at the right time. Winners set themselves goals, decide what must be done to achieve them and then commit to this process. It is deliberate, not fortuitous.

According to The Focus Group – provider of human resources services to some of the country’s leading companies – those with the discipline and foresight to get ahead take the same or similar proven steps to success time and time again.

Says Gavin Sher, director of The Focus Group: “No matter what the route to the top, there is a recurring theme of hard work and common-sense.

“Successful people live and love the business – people like Pepe Marais and Alistair Mokoena in advertising, Chris Gibbons and Aggrey Klaaste in the media, Thula Sindi and David Tlale in fashion, Adrian Gore in health insurance and Jacques Cilliers and Sim Tshabalala in finance “.

Experts at The Focus Group give several pointers to success for those with the necessary commitment.

They include:

  • Ask what is expected of you and EXCEED expectations. Simply doing your job is just enough to justify your pay. For bonuses and promotion you must do much more.
  • Business is about making profit so look at ways in which you can add value to your operation.
  • Don’t stick in one niche, even if you are a specialist. Multi-skilling is a world trend. Add to your skills and demonstrate versatility and initiative.
  • Ask questions. Suck up knowledge. Show your interest in all aspects of the business.
  • Identify the superstars in your organisation and learn from them.
  • Study constantly. You are engaged in a race with personal obsolescence – even in your mid-20s with your diplomas recently hung on the office wall.
  • Take on additional tasks. Do jobs no-one else wants.
  • Attend functions and corporate events. See and be seen. Remember your behaviour is always under scrutiny.
  • Build positive habits (keeping fit, arriving at the office early, reading industry literature etc). Make them part of your lifestyle.
  • Never lose your temper or show attitude. You may be assertive if the situation warrants it, but never aggressive.
  • Manage your time. Do it now! Don’t procrastinate. Establish a reputation for meeting or beating deadlines.
  • Build networks of company and industry contacts. Stay informed. Become a person whose opinion is valued. Have your say and be able to argue a case.

Sher adds: “Follow these tried and tested methods and you position yourself for promotion or new opportunities.

“Usually, there is an implicit commitment of between three and five years when you accept a corporate job. If the job of a lifetime comes along take it, but otherwise it is a mistake to change jobs in less than three years. You develop a reputation as a job-hopper.

“If after five years you are in precisely the same slot that you started out in and your responsibilities have not changed, you must ask yourself ‘What am I doing wrong?’ If necessary, find another job and get out.

“You must develop and stretch yourself. Winners don’t let themselves get stuck in a rut or pigeon-holed in a dead-end job.”

The Focus Group makes one last point: don’t forget to have a little fun. Reward yourself for goals achieved. Enjoy the fruits of your knowledge and success. You’ve earned it. You deserve it.

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