Getting Out Of The Pile

Starting your first “real” job can be an exciting time in your life, especially for a new College or University graduate.  If you had decent grades and built up a few key connections through networking, chances are you probably received interest from some different organizations and then chose the company that offered you the best overall package.

The red carpet treatment you experienced in the beginning was likely rolled up shortly after you were hired and became entrenched in the culture of the organization.

Some employees find it hard to adjust to the corporate ways that seem so different to what was sold to them in the interview process.  It can be frustrating to be lumped in with the rest of the group after being so highly sought-after when you were hired.

Differentiating Yourself From The Group

One of my favourite business books is Jack: Straight from the Gut, about Jack Welch’s rise to the top of General Electric.  After one year with GE, Jack got a $1,000 raise, but so did the other three men he shared his office with.  Jack believed that he deserved more for his expanded efforts.  There had to be a way to stand out.

Welch built up a good relationship with his superiors simply by always going the extra step and delivering more than was asked for.  When his boss wanted an analysis of a project, Welch provided it – along with a cost analysis stacking against similar products from competing companies like DuPont.

This was part of his strategy of getting out of the pile by exceeding expectations and offering a new, and hopefully valuable, perspective to his superiors.

Going The Extra Mile

It’s easy to get caught up in the office gossip and politics and just coast your way through your job.  But if you’re determined to turn your job into a career you should follow Jack’s lead and try going the extra mile to set yourself apart from your peers.

Don’t be discouraged if your company uses a flawed employee performance management system and just gives standard raises and promotions based on years of service.  Great people still matter in any organization, and if you have a constant drive to anticipate and exceed expectations you will escape from the pile move up the corporate ladder.

Sometimes You Just Get Lucky

Timing is everything in life, and sometimes you might just have to be in the right place at the right time.  My career path is proof of this.  When I worked in the hotel industry I went from bellman to Director of Sales in just under 5 years, and then was named interim General Manager less than 5 years later.

Along the way I was lucky enough to have people take a chance on me to fill various roles.  I was lucky to be able to cover for a maternity leave and then I benefited from a timely resignation that gave me the opportunity to be promoted.

But I’m also a believer in making your own luck and I wouldn’t have been considered for these promotions without working hard to stand out and be recognized.

Finding Your Groove

After being passed over for the full time role of General Manager I was left without a clear direction of where my career path was headed.  I had options if I stayed in the hotel industry but I would likely have to move, and with a newborn at home that choice wasn’t ideal.

I ended up meeting with a client who was restructuring their business and creating a new position that I considered to be perfect for me.  Using the same principles of differentiating myself and anticipating their needs I was able to beat out some tough competition to land the job.

Related: How A Career Change Improved My Life

It’s frustrating to be lumped in with the rest of the group.  Getting out of the pile can be a challenge but it is essential for the long term growth of your career.  Make your own luck and stand out from the crowd.

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  1. David @ on March 16, 2011 at 7:46 am

    When I wanted to upgrade my career, a little more than20 years ago, I found a way out of the pile. I did not know this at the time, but I was crossed off the list after my first interview. It had been determined that I was not seasoned enough for the position. But the next day, something in the newspaper caught my eye and I clipped it, attaching it to a letter saying “This is what I was talking about”. You know how you always think of something you should have said in the interview? Well, I used that letter to add those things, reinforce my strong points and repeat how much I was looking forward to working with them.

    I got a second interview.

    I got the job.

    Not well-seasoned enough, but more than compensating for it y showing initiative that would get me quickly seasoned…and no amount of seasoning replaces enthusiasm and a strategic mind.

    • Echo on March 16, 2011 at 2:08 pm

      Hi David, that’s a great story about being resourceful and setting yourself apart from the other candidates. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Doable Finance on March 28, 2011 at 3:08 am

    Setting and meeting goals is one way to improve on your career, your finances and just your family life in general.

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