Your Personal Fairy Job Mother

Job hunting? We have three top job consultants to be your personal advisory panel.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Job hunting? We have three top job consultants to be your personal advisory panel.
Corbis/Click Photos
Corbis/Click Photos

So you’re on your first or second job – either way, you’re still starting out. Questions buzz around your head like gnats; what if this industry is not for you? Do you deserve a higher pay? Your personal life is going down the drain, what should you do? Worry not – we’ve got you not one, but three experts, to answer all your burning questions.

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The Questions

Q1 What is the best way to get/ask for a promotion?

Stella: Establish why you should be promoted and back it up with examples of what you have achieved so far. You also need to prepare an answer to any likely counter-argument against giving you the promotion. Make it clear to your employer that you want the promotion for something other than just money. The weakest argument is to say that it’s your turn next. The days of being promoted purely on seniority are all but over. Timing is key. Pick a time when your boss has the time to discuss the issue with you, like during performance review periods.

Q2 What’s the best way to break into a new industry?

Stella: Make an honest assessment of why you want to get into the new industry. Many people mistakenly believe certain industries are more glamorous or exciting than they really are. Try and find people who are already in the respective industry and ask them what it’s really like before you decide to make the career switch. Be prepared to start at a level below where you are in your current industry. If you prove yourself and have the ambition, you will be able to regain any lost ground.

Melanie: Keep an open mind. Don’t expect to have the best of everything. Be mentally prepared to take a slight pay cut or, at best, the same as what you are getting currently. If you are confident in yourself or the potential company you’re about to join, advancement opportunities will follow.
Q3 The pressure to work unpaid overtime is affecting my health and personal life. How do I leave on time without looking like a slacker?

Robert: Don’t feel obliged to stay late just because others are and it seems like part of the unofficial corporate culture. You should not feel guilty about leaving work on time – so long as you have completed your tasks for the day and have met your deadlines. Just ensure that your performance meets the mark and that your superiors and co-workers are aware that your work is up-to-date and of good quality so that they do not have reason to say anything against you.

Melanie: You are just getting started on your career and the first three to five years determines your future successes. Putting in the extra hours is inevitable. Therefore, rule number one is to always keep yourself fit and healthy by eating well, resting well and exercising regularly.

As long as you maintain a high quality of work (that is, you are always punctual, are prompt in submitting your work, deliver results, complete scheduled daily tasks), I don’t see why any supervisor would have a problem with you leaving on time.

Q4 My boss is my friend, but he/she keeps asking me to run her personal errands during office hours. How do I politely decline as I have work to do?

Robert: Explain to her nicely that if you keep using your work hours to run her personal errands, you will not have enough time to complete the tasks she has given you and may not be able to meet the deadlines she has set for you.

Q5 Is it a good idea to list a job on your resume if you didn’t leave on great terms?

Robert: You should not leave any material out. Omitting it may create a gap in your employment history and you may be questioned about it. This may be even worse as you will then have to offer an explanation as to why you left it out and that may require you to offer even more details.

But if the role was insignificant, such as a part-time or temporary position during your school holidays or in the early days of your career, it’s perfectly fine to leave it out.