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Creating Your Own Luck

Losing my job in the last recession of the last century, I discovered first hand the power of creating your own luck. A week later, I decided to locate an interim position while I looked for a "real" job. Accepting a temporary position at minimum wage in an industry I knew little about, I decided the way to enjoy the position was to learn everything I could and make as much a contribution as possible. I poured over manuals in my down time, developed processes to expedite the work, trained new employees, volunteered for additional assignments, and did anything that needed to be done. Four weeks into a ten-week job, I was unexpectedly offered my first management position.

If I had listened to my friends cautioning me that taking a minimum wage position was career suicide, if I had been concerned about accepting a job "beneath" my education or experience level, or if I had only done what was expected in the temp position, I would have missed an opportunity that led to five promotions in the next seven years.

It has been my experience over the years, while climbing the corporate ladder to Vice President of a multi-billion dollar company, that opportunity is everywhere and anywhere. Often, itís in unexpected places for those who differentiate themselves in the workplace. People who do what is expected of them, do it very well - and then some - have opportunities arise that others never do. People who set their ego aside, contributing everything they can to the task at hand, often create their own luck. Thatís because initiative is a powerful commodity in the workplace.

People offering to do extra work only if they get paid for it, or take on extra responsibility only if their salary is increased first, have it backwards in my book. My advice: do the work, do it well - and then do it even better. Higher pay, greater responsibilities and increased opportunities follow individuals who are contributors. Anytime I looked to hire people, offer permanent positions to temporary employees or interns, start up new departments or businesses, or promote individuals, I looked for people doing their job well...and then some.

-Nan S. Russell
Sign up to receive Nan's free biweekly eColumn at www.winningatwork.com. Nan Russell has spent over twenty years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. She has held leadership positions in Human Resource Development, Communication, Marketing and line Management. Nan has a B.A. from Stanford University and M.A. from the University of Michigan. Currently working on her first book, Winning at Working: 10 Lessons Shared, Nan is a writer, columnist, small business owner, and online instructor. Visit www.nanrussell.com or contact Nan at nan@nanrussell.com. (c) 2004 Nan S. Russell. All rights reserved.

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