My former co-worker, whom I’ll call Adele, just landed a wonderful new job working for the government in a high-profile position. She’s thrilled, and I couldn’t be happier for her. Her keen intelligence, sense of humor, sense of style, and thorough professionalism were all key, I’m sure, to her selection. As I reflected on Adele’s transition, four themes seemed to emerge. If you’ve been looking for work for a while, don’t be discouraged! You may find a lesson for yourself in Adele’s good fortune:
- Even if you’re undervalued or underutilized where you work now, always, always do your best. You never know who’s watching you or who could recommend you to someone else who could be in a position to hire you. Adele was appointed to her position by another former co-worker—from another department. People notice the quality of the work you do.
- Sometimes you need to take a risk. This is tough to do, simply because life is unpredictable and there are no guarantees, but Adele tendered her resignation before she had another job lined up. She could not have known that such a great opportunity would come her way within a month of her resignation. But she took a calculated risk: She had a wide network and loads of contacts in influential positions, and she was a seasoned professional. Still, a risk is a risk. Sometimes it’s worth it to take one.
- Your co-workers are your network. At Adele’s farewell party, she said something that resonated with me: that everyone in the room made up her network. Recognize that the people you work with represent an opportunity for you to widen your network of professionals—yes, even the person who comes to work when he’s sick and breathes on you! Everyone knows the importance of networking. Start where you are by valuing your co-workers.
- Timing is everything. For whatever reason, you’re still at your job—despite your best efforts you haven’t yet landed a new one. In the meantime, look for or create opportunities to showcase your talents. Say yes to projects at work that come your way; if you can, tailor them to your interests. Maybe you’re still where you are because the right opportunity isn’t yet ripe. Adele resigned after 12 long years. But because the timing was right she eased into a great and completely unforeseen opportunity.