The job market is awful these days. If you have a job, be thankful.
But don’t let your thankfulness turn into complacency. You still need to look to advance your career and increase your pay – even if it’s harder than it used to be.
I saw a book recently that seemed right for the times. It’s called Cultivate a Cool Career: Guerrilla Tactics for Reaching the Top by Ken Langdon. It’s a 219-page paperback that’s divided into 52 chapters, or tactics, one for each week of the year.
Listen to the company’s mission and methods, but you don’t necessarily have to buy in and stick around.
“Don’t expect to spend your whole career in one organization and don’t trip over internal politics,” Langdon warns. “It’s a great mistake to think that anyone is as interested in your career as you are.”
Following this advice, negotiate for a higher salary when you start a job and don’t be shy about asking for raises. Of course, your performance must justify your pay.
“Negotiate for more when the time is ripe,” Langdon says. “Make sure you are being paid at least what you are worth and preferably a bit more.”
For managers, Cultivate a Cool Career advises to keep a close eye on subordinates but don’t micromanage them.
“Good managers…lead confident teams, limit the amount of advice they give, and help people solve their own problems,” Langdon says.
As you climb the corporate ladder, it’s important to choose your steps wisely and have a strategy to reach your goal. You have to take risks, and you’re likely to step on some toes.
“Sometimes doing the right thing for your career means that you have to deal with or even provoke someone’s anger.”
It’s easy to see why people want to be self-employed. The corporate games and politics can be a beating. Who wouldn’t want to be free of them?
But maybe you’re stuck at a large company and don’t have options. Maybe you like the corporate world and want to advance within it. Fine. But whether you’re enduring or enjoying your work environment, learn to manage it to your advantage.
Finally, Langdon says, keep a balance between your work life and home. For single dads, this is especially important.
“It’s your choice whether to be a workaholic pursuing your career at the expense of all other activities, or to place a higher priority on family and leisure.”
Your career is in your hands, no one else’s. Think about what you want to accomplish at work and at home. Then develop a strategy to achieve both.