If you spend the majority of your time on the clock struggling to keep your eyes open, it may be time to find a new vocation. But before you start writing cover letters or practicing answers to tough interview questions, consider the possibilities for reinventing yourself within your current company. Finding fulfillment may be as simple as switching departments, responsibilities, or managers.
First, make a list of the type of jobs that you think you would like to do. If you are interested in writing, for example, consider the opportunities in your current company for writing employee communications pieces, direct mailings to customers, or advertising slogans. Remember that many departments require writers to compose training manuals, procedures bulletins, and simple office correspondence.
Scrutinize your list carefully and realistically imagine yourself doing the jobs that you have listed. Think about the actual tasks that you would be required to do. For example, if you are considering a job as an events coordinator, your responsibilities would include visiting potential event sites, negotiating contracts, and brainstorming themes. These may sound very exciting, but this job also involves getting everything done on a tight deadline, checking and rechecking all details (which can often change at the last minute), and keeping all participants fully aware of the plans. When you see the incumbent in this position, she often seems relaxed and smiling, but it’s part of the job to appear this way. Most of the time, her mind is racing over last-minute details.
Learn more about the jobs that you have selected. Talk to your colleagues and find out what they know about them. Workmates often have friends working in different departments, and some of them may work in the areas that you’re interested in. Prepare yourself with a list of questions and try to arrange informal coffee sessions with these people. Take this opportunity to discuss all your issues and concerns. Most people are happy to talk about themselves.
Upgrade your skills in areas where you are lacking. Through your research, you may discover that you just aren’t qualified for some of the jobs that interest you. Night school and correspondence courses are readily available in most parts of the country. These programs are sometimes government sponsored, which means that there may be no cost to you. Or you can check with your personnel department, as many companies will pay all or part of tuition fees for courses at accredited colleges and universities.
Try job shadowing someone who has the job you want. Approach your manager or personnel department and ask about career planning. Tell them that you are interested in developing your career with the company and ask them for suggestions. It often works to spend time working alongside the person who is already in the job. You can do this for as little as an hour a day for a few days, or for a full day, depending on how much time the managers are willing to spare for this type of activity. This has to be tactfully handled, as you don’t want to appear as though you are trying to take over the other person’s job. The best explanation is to say that you are looking at many different options, not specifically at this position.
Volunteer for project work in your areas of interest. Tell your manager that you are interested in being involved with projects on your own time. Before or after your regular hours of work, you can participate in all sorts of activities. People rarely turn down an extra pair of hands when it’s offered voluntarily.
Join charitable committees at your workplace. Most companies involve employees in fundraising activities. No matter what group you join, you will meet fellow employees from other departments. You can even start up your own project, such as a volleyball or softball tournament and sell admission tickets. You will benefit from the experience while helping those who are less fortunate.
Make a good impression wherever you go. As you find yourself meeting new people at all levels, keep an open mind. Be prepared to listen and learn. Don’t act as if you know everything. Remember that their time is valuable, and if they are prepared to share their knowledge, all the better. Try to remain cheerful even if things begin to get complicated and you don’t understand everything that’s going on. When it comes to applying for a job in one of these departments, people will remember your behavior. This is your chance to shine!
By Natasha Morgan for Not Just the Kitchen