Career tip: Going up or out

Weekender

By THOMAS HUKAHU
IN last week’s career tip, I touched on the need to learn as much as you can in your job. I also urged you to learn outside your workplace to improve your skills, as spending time on hobbies.
In this week’s article, I will talk about your decision to either leave or stay on in your current job and work your way up.
But before I do that, let me highlight an important area that will help you and your family as you continue to perform well at your workplace.

Take care of your health
An important part of life that I have mentioned in past articles is the need for you to save money.
Here is another – and that has to do with your health.
If you do not take care of your money and health, you will not be effective in your job, as in turning up for work on time, and every time.
Some life coaches say “your health is your wealth”.
If you do not take care of your health, you will fall sick and not turn up for work, and consequently you will not get paid for absent days.
I urge you to refrain from drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, chewing betel nut and other practices like visiting night clubs.
Yes, I sound archaic but I am being practical in stating that.
Firstly, you are running your own health down if you drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes.
Your health is going to be affected by you putting bad chemicals into your system.
Moreover, your family, if you have one, will also feel the pain if you are sick. They have to take care of you, or struggle to survive.
I have sat in funeral services of people who were too young to die and the sad thing is their children were still very young. The burden of raising their children would then be left to their spouses.
Do note that your health is your family’s asset too.
If you do not take care of it, you are not being fair to your family, your children and your spouse.
Secondly, bad habits, like drinking alcohol and smoking become unnecessary expenses in your life.
You cannot be saving money well if you have the habit of consuming those items.
Here is a challenge on taking care of your health as well as attending to your work.
Last year, in 2017, I never missed a day of work. Sure, I was sick at times, but I took care of myself, as in taking tablets and eating properly as well as resting well.
(The human body is amazing. If you take good care of it, it heals itself.)
In the previous year, in 2016, I also had a 100 per cent attendance record, even though I turned up late at times due to me attending to some medical issues.
I could not have had such attendance records if I had an unhealthy lifestyle.
Some people miss work days due to an accident at a night club, or were in a drinking party that turned into binge drinking for two whole days. To help their body adjust, they miss work days.
Such bad habits will affect your work performance – and you must stop them.
 Are you leaving?
For some people, they remain in the same job or with the same firm or organisation for their whole working career. But for many of you, your first job will not be your last.
You will gain experience and learn a lot of skills while there but there will be a time that you will leave that for another.
People leave a job (or resign) for various reasons. Here are some of them.
Firstly, they may feel threatened or treated unjustly where they are.
I have stated that it is wise to spend a number of years in a job before moving on, however this reason is one that you should treat seriously – and attend to it immediately.
If your life or health is at risk where you are, it is wise to leave the location, or job, as soon as you can. For your own safety and wellbeing, it is right to leave.
Secondly, you may want to leave for family reasons, possibly with a sick parent or even your spouse who cannot come live with you where you are.
Thirdly, you may want to leave because another better job was offered you with better benefits, which may include better pay, housing and other opportunities.
Like I have said previously, it is best to stay on for a few years in a job before moving on. But if you have done enough time, you can leave. By then you would have mastered skills in your trade.
Fourthly, you may want to go for further studies.
The wish to upgrade your education qualification will require you to resign, if you cannot work and learn at the same time.
Fifthly, you may want to start your own business using the skills you learned while you were an employee in a firm or organisation. Teachers have gone on to start their own schools with money that they have saved. Employees in the cafeteria department in a company have gone on to start their own fast-food store for less than K1,000. Former employees of Facebook or Google have gone on to start their own companies too, with some help from financiers.
So, if you want to, you can do the same, as in starting your own thing.

Leave in a nice way
Now here is something important to bear in mind.
When you are thinking of leaving, do not just disappear.
Write a letter informing the boss of your organisation or firm and state clearly why you want to leave.
I am sure that if you make your reasons known to them, nobody will hold you back.
Some people just disappear from their workplace and when called two weeks later, they inform their employer that they found a job elsewhere. That is unprofessional.
You must understand too that it is likely that in a year or two later, you may walk into the same organisation or firm for the same job, or something similar, and it would not look good if you left without telling your boss about your decision.

Are you moving up?
Promotion is natural for people who become good at what they do.
If you have been committed in your work and take on extra responsibilities when asked to by your supervisors, you will one day be asked to head a department or unit at your workplace.
The longer you remain in the same department and continue to learn other skills and show that you can manage various tasks well, you would be promoted again.
Being promoted is good in that your pay would be raised and other privileges would be given to you.
That may include your employer providing accommodation for you, or pay you accommodation allowance if you are renting a house.
Promotion also enables you to apply some of your ideas to make your organisation or firm perform better.
If you are a very good science teacher and were made the head of department in the high school you are at, you can pass on some of your ideas to the other staff members to make their lessons interesting and better for students to better understand concepts taught.
The fruits of you being the head could mean your Grade 10 students doing very well in their science exams through some of the interesting things you introduced in the department.
A promotion also enables you to manage more duties as well as people. That, in itself, is a skill that will look good on your CV, if you plan to leave for another job in years to come.
However, you must know that you are free to turn down an offer for promotion.
If for some reason, you do not want to take on other duties and responsibilities, let your bosses know and give your reasons for doing so.
In the different jobs I held, I was offered promotions on a number of occasions but I turned them down because I wanted more time on my hands to work on my own stuff, things that interested me. (Sometimes, time is more valuable than money.)
You have to decide for yourself.
If you have a family, think about them too and decide appropriately.
 A worker had to get a degree
Having had the privilege of educating people has enabled me to learn about their struggles and successes as well.
I will share with you a story.
More than 10 years ago, I was tutoring university students in mathematics, those who were matriculating.
Among them was a very keen student. She was working for a government authority in Port Moresby and had been there for more than a decade.
She took time from work to go back to school and ensured that she was always there for her lessons. Incidentally, she was the oldest in her matriculation class – she was in her 30s.
It was tough adjusting but she told me that she had to do it because she wanted to move up in her organisation.
“I cannot move up in my workplace if I do not have a degree,” she said.
In two years, she completed her matriculation and commenced university studies and a few years later she graduated with a business degree.
She is one of many success stories of people who have good career goals and were willing to put in the time and effort to realise those goals.
You may have to make such choices too – some of them will be tough, and you may have to make sacrifices too.
Do not be afraid of going back to school, or take on other challenges to make yourself a better worker.
And with that I end this week’s piece.
In the last two articles in this series on career tips, I will discuss the advantages and challenges of two careers that I had been part of to help those who may be interested in them.

Next week: A teaching career

  • Thomas Hukahu is a freelance writer.

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