Four Things You Can Do When Your Job is Going Well

The words "Four things you can do when your job is going well" and four icons: a pencil and paper, shaking hands, a mountain with a flag on it, and a book.

Even when your job is going well – you feel engaged, you can see opportunities for advancement, and you feel well compensated for your work – it’s important to perform what I call “ongoing career maintenance.” These are little things you can do to keep yourself primed and ready should you find yourself wanting a change, or you’re suddenly unemployed.

#1: Keep track of your successes.

Any interview you go to will involve asking about your past successes and accomplishments. But when we’re actually performing the duties of our jobs, sometimes it’s hard to recognize all of our successes, let alone take the time to document them.

Thus, keep a journal of your successes. This can be daily, weekly, or monthly, but it needs to be regular enough so that it records a broad enough selection of accomplishments that you can call to mind – specific examples for the future when you need them.

As you’re writing down your successes, be specific about what you did, and think about how you might retell them in the behavioral interviewing STAR format – Situation, Task, Action, Result. The basics of STAR are thinking about what the Situation was, what the Task or goal of the project/issue was, what Action you did to work towards achieving that goal, and what the Result was. Find out more about the STAR technique here.

Pro-tip: Back in my previous career at a global footwear and apparel manufacturer, I kept an email folder full of my wins, as a quick and easy placeholder I could go back to when I had time to reflect more. This might work for you too.

#2: Connect meaningfully with other professionals.

One of the best times to network with people is when you already have a job. This is the time to build relationships with people in other departments, at other companies, and even in your neighborhood. I’ve found that people feel less “icky” about networking when they’re not actively job-searching. That said, if you regularly practice making connections when you have a job, it’ll be a lot easier to call on that skill when you are looking for a new job!

This can involve connecting to other professionals on LinkedIn, participating in online discussions in your area of expertise, joining professional organizations, or attending local events and conferences. I’ve found Eventbrite to be invaluable for finding local events and Meetup for finding ways to connect on common interests.

Pro-tip: If you’re not a social butterfly you don’t have to push yourself too hard; try going to just one event per month and make a goal of getting three business cards, or even just having 3 conversations.

#3: Document and check in on your goals.

How will you know if you’re achieving what you want at your job if you don’t know what your goals are? I often recommend this simple process, which only requires checking in every six months, and asks you to track the actions and habits that will help you achieve those goals.

First, come up with goals – for example, ones that would elevate your skills at your current job and that could potentially get you into another job, and that you think can be achieved within a 6-24 month timeframe. These can be as small as “learn how to use the new order management system,” or as big as “move up to District Manager from Assistant Manager.”

Under those goals, write down the specific actions that need to happen for you to achieve those goals. For the order management system example above, you could write “ask Claudia in A/R to spend some time demonstrating the new system for me.”

In addition to the activities, keep track of the habits that will support achieving those goals. Think of these like actions that need to happen more than once, and with some consistency. Habits can often be difficult to maintain, but they’re the cornerstone of working towards goals. Using the District Manager example from above, a habit could be “track weekly efficiency data on my team, to ultimately present to the CEO with suggestions about improving performance,” or “spend 2 hours weekly doing online training on project management.”

Every six months check in on these goals, whether you’ve completed your actions, and whether you’ve practiced the habits. If not, ask yourself if those goals are still important to you, and if so, think about what has prevented you from achieving them.

It’s pretty simple – set goals, take actions, and practice habits.

Pro-tip: Scheduling the goals check-ins at your birthday and half-birthday is a great way to remember, if using calendar reminders isn’t your thing.

#4: Read this book!

There’s a really handy book about getting ahead at your current job, called “Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn’t, and Why,” by Donald Asher. Among other great advice and case examples, it indirectly touches on a theory of John Krumboltz’s called “planned happenstance,” or the idea that in our careers we should be prepared for good and bad things to happen by chance, and that if we’re prepared to capture those opportunities when they arise, we stand to benefit.

Pick One to Start

Taking an active role in managing your career – even when you’re comfortable – can really pay off when change comes, either by chance or by choice. Keep track of your successes, network, set goals, and read to be prepared and stay sharp. What one action from the above list could you start doing this month?


AaronGood60Aaron Good, MS, CRC, LPC Intern

Aaron Good is a mental health and career counselor in private practice, focusing on career, purpose, and identity. He works with individuals throughout the lifespan who want to improve their current job, find a new career more aligned with their values, or reaffirm the track they’re on. He covers the range of career issues, from understanding how anxiety and depression can impact our work and feeling of purpose, to the practical mechanics of a job search.

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