Kevin Ryan, the mastermind behind the rise of Gilt Groupe and DoubleClick says that you don’t need to be a rockstar to get ahead – you need to only be 10% better. Think about it. The big names like Google, Facebook, Apple and even Microsoft all entered an already saturated market. There were already search engines, social networks, phones and operating systems – but these companies did them better.

One of the main reasons we see people undermining their abilities is because they don’t think they are amazing. Now, at Key Recruitment we really do believe in people’s potential and love to see the gold hiding in the coal, but Kevin has hit the nail on the head for everyone to put their shoulders back and start working a little harder. You can be better.

I had a conversation with a guy the other day who works at a major retailer in Cape Town. We exchanged names and got chatting around work and he expressed his desire to grow. He packs shelves, cleans the store and does stock take and other associated tasks. He did not finish his degree because he dropped out and now he is trying to study through a cheaper college. What steps can he take to be better and grow his career?

  1. Start where you are

Whether you are unemployed, have a job you do not like or you love your work you need an action plan. If you want to grow your career and your responsibility and salary then you need to plan for that. It won’t happen by accident so you need to be intentional. What is your next step? If you are unemployed then you need to get your CV together and start submitting it to relevant roles that you could do (check out this CV post…and this post about experience). If you are unhappy in your job you need to figure out the reason for your unhappiness. Don’t just quit or start job hunting – first figure out what you like and don’t like about your current job. What is that dream position you are thinking about? Why? What makes that dream so attractive? If you can answer those questions it will help you practically figure out what to do next. If you love your job – then you have the unique opportunity to maximize your current space in a unique way. You may already be doing the follow (which could be contributing to your happiness) but take a few moments to consider what you love about your current job and see where you can maximise those elements. Remember…you just need to be 10% better than your colleagues to get noticed.

2. Build relationships

We might be moving towards the time of robots building robots but we will always need relationships. No matter how much you like to introvert or prefer your cubicle in the corner where you can code all day with your headphones in – you still need people. Believe it or not, how people view you at work makes a difference to your ability to team together, build trust and ultimately move the business forward (check out this crazy article about how your looks can affect your paycheck!). When there are strong relationships in your workplace it builds trust and can result in more responsibility being shared among the team. Take the time to remember people’s names, speak kindly and offer to help where you can. Do your best to not just focus your relational investment in your direct reports as this may be seen as sucking up!

3. Commit to the long haul

Career growth takes time. You are not going to be an overnight success by putting in a few extra late nights or being nicer to your colleagues. We are talking about a shift in the way we work and treat our work. When we see the fact that work is good and healthy we can commit to being hard working individuals for the long haul. I have a good friend who has worked at his company for 8 years. In those 8 years he has worked hard and built strong relationships. He has made sure that he has increased his skillset and shown regularly that he is open to more responsibility. His salary has more than tripled in those 8 years.

4. Keep your eyes open for opportunities

While some opportunities just happen to land in your path…most of them will need a more skilled approach to spot. Wherever you work no matter what you are doing there will be opportunities all around you. It may be ways to improve efficiency or staff retention. There may be ergonomic issues in the work environment that need fixing. There could be a gap in the market that you will be able to fill through starting a business that offers the missing service. Whatever it is – look for it. The best way to do this is to ask a few questions. What, if we had it here, would make business easier? What are people in need of but they don’t even realise it yet? What kind of soil does a money tree grow in? (While that last one is a joke…it is essentially a rewording of the previous questions 😉 )