Stay Put,You Can Make It Better

Changing jobs isn't the only way to boost your career.

John Challenger of Chicago outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas suggests ways to increase your satisfaction and make yourself more valuable in your current position.

* Keep learning. The more you sharpen your skills (particularly in technology), the more you're worth to your employer. Take advantage of training your company offers or check into seminars or courses at local colleges. Ask your supervisor if the company has a tuition reimbursement program and what new skills you need to learn.

* Keep a daily log of your accomplishments, the goals you have reached, the new ideas you developed, and the money you saved the company.

* Set up regular meetings with your boss every few weeks to review assignments. No matter how small your company, don't assume your supervisor knows your accomplishments.

* Develop one new idea a day or one per week. Write it down. Submit it to your boss. The ideas don't have to be big breakthroughs but can be anything that will improve productivity and efficiency. It shows your boss that you're thinking about the business.

* Become an office vacuum. "Sweep up" all the work that's not being done. Show interest in other areas of the company.

* Improve your relationship with your boss. The No.1 reason for being fired is not poor job performance but bad relations with superiors. Stay visible. Update your boss on your progress. Occasionally ask him or her to lunch to discuss the company's direction and what more you can do.

* Volunteer. Increase your visibility to key people by volunteering for projects or producing your own ideas - from attending a seminar on new management theories (then reporting back what you learned) to coaching the softball team. People like other people with team spirit and initiative.

Fewer People Change Industries

While people may be willing to change jobs, they're less willing today to change industries.

Only 36 percent of executive and management job seekers switched industries in 1997, down from a record 53 percent in 1991, according to a Challenger, Gray & Christmas survey.

In a tight labor market, that bodes poorly for industries that could use more switchers - including high-tech, manufacturing, construction, and financial services.

Job seekers are also less willing to relocate.

Only 20 percent of executive and management job seekers surveyed moved to take a new position, down from 23 percent in 1996 and 35 percent in 1993. People are less willing to uproot school-age children, and there are more dual-income households where two paychecks carry equal weight.

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