Use Your Current Job to Move Up

Use Your Current Job to Move Up

Wondering how to turn your vanilla job into a glamorous career? Thinking you’re on a road to nowhere? Open your eyes -- you can leverage your current position into your next opportunity. Follow this advice.

You Can Leverage Any Job

One of the best ways to leverage any job is to make connections. Not only will networking be helpful in your current gig, every relationship can be an opportunity to get an offer for something better.

“I landed more than one job through the contacts I made through my first internship,” says Carolyn Evans, a public-relations consultant in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. “Several years and several jobs later, I still do contract work for my first boss.”

New-to-You Responsibilities

Take advantage of opportunities in your current position to learn skills, such as leadership skills, you’ll need for the future. Volunteer for projects outside your daily grind, or ask for additional responsibilities to round out your capabilities and resume.

“Take the initiative to tell people what you love and what you are good at,” advises Carol Vecchio, executive director and founder of Centerpoint Institute, a life and career counseling organization in Seattle. “It’s a great way to make yourself more visible for new opportunities.”

Of course, learning new things means you’re bound to make mistakes. But if you handle them the right way, you’ll exhibit the highly valued trait of accountability -- and learn something important, too.

“In my internship, whenever I made a mistake, my boss was really reasonable as long as I could tell her what I did and why I did it,” Evans recalls. “It became an opportunity to learn not only the right way to do things but how to handle difficult situations. That allowed me to add some important real-world skills to my resume -- and got me a glowing recommendation.”

Use Internships, Temp Assignments and Contract Positions

Internships, temp assignments and contract positions enable you to explore a company or career before committing to it. “You can see if it’s a good fit, and the company finds out if you are a good fit for them as well,” says Peter Andersen, a Seattle-based technical writer for Microsoft.

If you don’t take to the job, employer or industry, short-term assignments allow you to bail out without looking like a job-hopper. But if you dig the gig, don’t underestimate the value of old-fashioned hard work. A solid work ethic can get you noticed and promoted, particularly in competitive situations where many people have the same qualifications as you.

It worked for Andersen, who joined Microsoft in 1990 as a contractor. “I was so eager to be hired on full-time that I considered it a three-month trial period and worked very hard,” he recalls. “Sure enough, at three months they hired me.”

Your Current Job

While it’s good to know your options and prepare for the future, the worst thing you can do for your career is ignore your current position’s duties -- and potential.

“The most common mistake is that people think of the first job as a strategic chess move and not a choice of fulfillment,” says Kevin Fleming, a Jackson, Wyoming, consulting corporate psychologist, executive coach and author of The Half-Truth High: Breaking the Illusions of the Most Powerful Drug in Life and Business. “Don’t miss the happiness that’s there while you’re searching for the next opportunity to move to the top.”