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FCW : November 30, 2012
Acquire as many transferable skills or skills relevant across a wide range of job roles as possible. Alexandra Levit Alexandra Levit is a career and workplace consultant who has advised the Obama administration and Fortune 500 companies. Her books include "They Don t Teach Corporate in College: A Twenty-Something s Guide to the Business World" and "Success for Hire: Simple Strategies to Find and Keep Outstanding Employees. " In the beginning, do not focus on advancing. Acquire as many transferable skills or skills relevant across a wide range of job roles as possible. Examples are project management, sales, constituent relations, nance and marketing. Learn another language if you can. You never know where you might end up, especially if your role is tied to a particular administration, so you want to be prepared for a host of different scenarios. Do not have tunnel vision. It is critical to do a good job, but you do not want to be so bogged down in your work that you do not notice the temperature changing around you. Federal employees especially have to understand insider politics and ensure that they are visible with the right people. The most outdated advice is that you should prepare for a career as a lifer. These days, it is rare for even government employees to stay at one agency for their entire careers. With all the upsizing and downsizing that s going on in government, exibility and nimbleness will be essential in your ability to land on your feet. Young feds should do more networking outside the government because the public/private switchover is now commonplace for many. They should not be insular. They should seek mentors who are in positions to which they aspire, but they should not take older mentors words as automatic gospel. Life as a fed has changed a great deal in recent years and will continue to change, so they have to assess whether advice is workable in their particular situation. Focus on playing the role assigned to you before you ever try to reach beyond that role. Bruce Tulgan Bruce Tulgan has written several books on management, including "Not Everyone Gets a Trophy: How to Manage Generation Y" and "It s Okay to Be the Boss: The Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming the Manager Your Employees Need. " He is a consultant, speaker and management trainer. The rst piece of advice I would give to any young rising professional in any job in any organization is make sure the rst person you manage every day is yourself. Make sure you are taking good care of yourself outside work so that you are bringing your very best to work. And while you are at work, you should be all about the work. Focus on playing the role assigned to you before you ever try to reach beyond that role. Attitude, effort and work habits do matter --- a lot. Do not act like a jerk. You know you are acting like a jerk at work if you do any of the following: Approach relationships from the vantage point of what you want or need from others rather than what you have to offer the other person, or blame others and make excuses when things go wrong rather than focus on the role you played in creating the problem and on what you can do to contribute to the solution. You take yourself seriously, but do not always take your obligations seriously. You focus on the negative aspects of situations without volunteering to help make things better. Or you deny, steal or begrudge credit for the success of others. If you nd yourself doing any of these things, knock it off. Here s [advice] that is obviously outdated: "Hitch your wagon to the star of a large established institution, keep your head down, and do as you are told. Pay your dues and climb the ladder the old-fashioned way, and if you are patient, the system will take care of you with long-term vesting rewards." Here s another oldie that goes hand-in-hand with the rst: "Cater to your boss in every way you can and follow him or her up the ladder." This sort of advice goes with the outmoded view that careers and supervisory November 30, 2012 FCW.COM 25 Got a question about your career? In the months to come, FCW will return to these experts and others with speci c questions about building leadership skills, learning from mentors and navigating the federal workplace. Please send yours to careerquestions@FCW.com. Be sure to include your name and preferred contact information. We will not publish names without permission, but we do need to con rm that questioners work for a federal agency.
November 15, 2012