“Work like hell. I mean you just have to put in 80 to 100 hour weeks every week. If other people are putting in 40 hour workweeks and you’re putting in 100 hour workweeks, you know that you will achieve in four months what it takes them a year to achieve.”
– Elon Musk, CEO Tesla, SpaceX

CEOs, entrepreneurs, and consultants are known for working excessive hours. Logging 80 hours a week is not uncommon for them, and more often than not, that number can hit the triple digits during particularly busy weeks (ouch!). The problem and danger of advice like this from Elon Musk is that people are not designed for 80-hour work weeks – at least not over a prolonged period. Studies have shown that people can perform at peak efficiency for around 10 hours a day, but that is based on maintaining a clean diet, exercising regularly, and getting the recommended amount of sleep (8 hours) each night.

As employees, we want to achieve career happiness and professional progression in our jobs, but that doesn’t have to mean making such enormous sacrifices to our work-life balance. It’s possible for you to upskill and stay abreast of developments in your industry by making adjustments to how you approach your workday, daily commute, and relationships you build in the industry. By refining and advancing your expertise, you can help to ensure that it helps you in your existing job, while also making you more appealing to future employers when you decide it’s time to search for a new role.

Here are some ways you can do just that.

PODCASTS, WEBINARS AND LIVE EVENTS

Commuting timing can often be wasted on social media or browsing content that adds no value to our day to day lives. This time could be much better spent on catching up on webinars and podcasts as there’s often a recording that can be watched or listened to at a time that is convenient to you. There is a wealth of content out there across a broad spectrum of topics, so conduct a search, hone your focus on what will add the most value to your existing role and future opportunities, and identify the podcasts and webinars that are worthy of your time.

Some of our favourite podcasts include:

Marketing: Copyblogger.FMCoScheduleSocial Media Examiner

Data Science: The Data Skeptic, The O’Reilly Data ShowTalking Machines

Sales: B2B Growth ShowThe Advanced Selling PodcastSell or Die

ASK FOR MORE RESPONSIBILITIES

You can see the larger potential in a project that you’ve been assigned, you know that taking initiative to expand the scope will not only help to make it better, but it will also help to highlight your ambition and creative thinking. We’ve all been there.

However, it can often prove to be problematic to take things to the next level without first getting your manager’s approval, and even then, you still may struggle to get them to open up to new ideas. She may be worried about you being pulled away from other projects that you’re responsible for on a day-to-day basis, or maybe the new approach that you’re pitching is something that she’s not comfortable with putting into practice.

Do Your Research: Identify tangible ways to explain how expanding your duties will help to benefit the team and your department’s goals, as well as how it could potentially increase leads, sales and customer engagement. Don’t bring opinions to a data fight – bring information that will help you to build a solid case for how your added responsibilities could positively impact the company.

Show The Next Steps: While thinking of the bigger picture will show ambition, your manager will need to see exactly what’s involved if they’re to sign-off on your proposal. If there’s a particular project you want to work on, you should break it down into a list of tasks that will be required to get it off the ground, along with how each task will take and who will take ownership of each. Tackling a new project with both an analytical and organisational mindset will help to make your manager more comfortable with the idea that this won’t have a detrimental impact on your existing tasks.

PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE

Building your personal brand, establishing contacts within your industry, nurturing those relationships and asking for help when needed can have a significant impact on your career. Afterall, no job is secure, so it is up to you to ensure that you are marketable, not just your employer. In today’s world, each person needs to be responsible for building their brand with their own unique selling points that can be taken with them after they leave a role behind.

How To Build Your Brand: The first step is acknowledging what you enjoy doing because if you don’t like doing it, chances are you won’t take it very seriously, and if you don’t have a keen interest in it, then why bother building your personal brand around it? Once you identify your area of interest, you need to make the commitment to being as great at it as you possibly can be. This doesn’t necessarily make you competitive, but rather, it makes you want to work hard on being as well known in that area as you can be. This is the foundational block from which you will build your personal brand through social media, content you write, and how you portray yourself when chatting with others.

Not everyone is comfortable with being on camera or writing blog posts, so identify what feels most natural to you and start from there. Having an opinion, sharing it in an interesting and constructive manner will help you to stand out among those who don’t invest as much time as you do.

How To Build Your Network: Building a network of industry connections can take time and a lot of giving back, but it’s an invaluable asset when attempting to upskill your career.

“I don’t like feeling like I’m being ‘sold to,’ nor have I ever liked, probably to my detriment, ‘selling myself.’ Rather, I feel if people get to know me, know what I’m passionate about, and what I have to offer my friends, colleagues, and customers, they’ll let me know if they want to associate with me.”

Amy Castro, Communication expert

You can achieve this by attending conferences, getting in touch with old colleagues or industry leaders through networking on LinkedIn or building your social profile. Growing your social capital is not just a buzzword. It’s a real currency in how it can help to uncover new business opportunities, tap into a broader pool of knowledge, and influence people who may put you onto a different to success. If you focus only on what you will gain through it, it’s unlikely that people will want to remain in contact with you. It’s important to identify what value you can add to other people’s lives as ultimately that’s what they will remember you for and will be more likely to recommend you to others within the industry. 

If you need any advice about how to land your next role, just reach out to our team who will be more than happy to help. We can help put you on the path to a better career this year.