The “Get-Ahead” Mindset
If one of your career goals is to climb that proverbial ladder, keep these tips in mind before pitching your promotion
By Jessie Cook, Local 68 steward and Local 68 Board member
Have you ever wondered how to get ahead, in life and your career? It’s something we all think about, yet we aren’t given many tools or guidance on how to do this.
For those looking to do better and become better at any level, I have some advice. These tips can be applied to any job, in any workplace, and by anyone.
Always show up. Being present mentally and physically in your workplace is half the battle. It shows you are dedicated, and your supervisors will take note. When your mind is focused, you are less likely to miss details or instructions.
Be on time. I’ve always been a fan of the phrase “if you’re not early, you’re late.” Coming in a few minutes before your shift shows your coworkers and your boss that you are serious about your work. You may also be afforded some personal time with the boss—a good chance to ask one-on-one questions—and not only does it show respect, it could eventually help you build yourself into more of a leadership role. The guy rolling in 20 minutes late every day will never be “the boss,” so show up early!
Be fit for duty. Not only showing up early but showing up ready to work—appropriately dressed, fed, caffeinated, paperwork complete, etc.—shows your supervisors that you take your job seriously. By showing up prepared for your day, you will stand out from those who don’t and will be given the favourable tasks and opportunities.
Ask questions! If you don’t know, ask! Questions don’t make you look dumb. They make you look engaged and show an initiative to learn, which bosses and mentors love! You’ll always look more impressive asking a question about how to do a task properly than if you don’t and do it wrong. Everyone does things differently, too. Just because you’ve done something one way before doesn’t mean there isn’t another, faster, better way to do that same task.
Do your own research. Curious about why a job is done a certain way, what someone else is doing, or what’s going on around you? Want to see the bigger picture? Google it, head to YouTube, or ask a mentor! There is nothing wrong with being curious. You never know where it might lead you!
Educate yourself. Don’t wait for someone to offer you a new position—take the initiative and sign up for a course or read a book. You’ll be better prepared and it will help you figure out what you want and how you are going to get there. It’ll make you stand out!
Speak to your supervisor. Want to try a new piece of equipment? Crave a new leadership role? Want to be more involved in the planning process? Prove yourself worthy by applying consistency and dedication to day-to-day tasks. And when you’re ready for advancement, ask! If you are turned down by direct supervision, don’t take it personally. The squeaky wheel gets the grease! Ask mentors or someone already in the position you want for tips or help.
Apply for different jobs. Once you are confident in yourself and your abilities, apply for different roles or jobs. If there is no room for growth at your current employment (or they won’t take the time to train/advance you), go elsewhere! Get out of your comfort zone and find something more satisfying. There are plenty of great companies out there willing to put time and effort into employees that are hungry for new roles.
Act seriously. Finally, if you want to be taken seriously, you have to act seriously. Throwing tantrums, having random outbursts, showing up unfit to work, dressing inappropriately—all can work against you if you’re looking to advance in your workplace. Act professionally, and you will be considered a professional. This goes for any career field, but especially for women like me in the construction trades, who have a standard to build and withhold.
Jessie Cook has been in the heavy civil construction industry as a equiptment operator for seven years. She is passionate about workplace development, safety, and fair treatment of all, particularly young women in the trades. She looks forward to her new adventure of motherhood and being able to stay at home with her dog and horse. For more tips from Jessie, follow her on Instagram at @clac_jessie.