The words that every eager job seeker yearns to hear amidst ongoing applications and interviews are: You’re hired.

The relief that comes when the human resources department of your desired company calls and informs you that you’ve been selected for the position is positively overwhelming. A megawatt smile stretches its way across your face and you liken your emotions to The Little Engine That Could.

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But after dedicating a significant amount of time to the position and mastering the ins and outs of the workplace — and observing the politics of the business — you begin to notice that you are exceeding the expectations of the role and are not being properly compensated for it. Whether the sought after compensation is verbal praise, an increased salary, leniency on hours, or additional gifted days off, your toleration threshold has lowered and the undervalued itch begins to scratch.

Though it can be easy to complain to coworkers, abandon your role and run for the hills of another company, slack off in your position, or unashamedly and inappropriately wear your emotions on your sleeve, none of these quick fixes allow you to nurture one of the most valuable and respected employee traits: character.

As eager and driven employees, our goals are set to move from point A to point B as quickly as possibly. While drive is necessary and healthy, the workforce journey is much more than just an increased annual salary and a title change on your business card. The ups and downs that your career will take you on can teach and refine you as an individual … if you let them. Character is so rarely praised, yet is integral in leading a healthy staff and propelling a business for success.

… the workforce journey is much more than just an increased annual salary and a title change on your business card.

In your waiting to switch jobs or for increased compensation, and between those moments of great exasperation and defeat, choose to build and strengthen your character. From character, excellence overflows and the desire to endlessly perform to your best becomes priority.

Here are three ways to maintain excellence in your workplace:

Work towards your next job.
Though you may feel you’ve mastered all you can in your current position, challenge yourself with tasks that can translate over to your next job. If you finish a task early, ask your boss for additional projects that you can apply your own creativity to. Be willing to extend yourself outside of what you know and learn skills that your next position may require. Keep in mind that your portfolio is a reflection of you, so be proud of what you showcase to future employers and perfect as many skills as possible in your present position.

Leave a company on a positive note.
The last way that you would want an employer to remember you is negatively. You may be in the process of interviewing for outside positions, but intentionally maintain a positive attitude while at your current company. You have worked hard in your role and want the option of listing your supervisor as a reference further on down the line. Industries are small and your path with current employees may cross later on, so choose a positive attitude that reflects integrity and character.

Realize that life is more. 
It can be easy to find self-worth in your job title and salary, but true meaning and purpose are not dependent on your resume or monetary worth. People are why the workforce functions, so focus on nurturing and maximizing those relationships and networks. If there is an individual at your company that you admire, grab lunch with them and pick their brain. Perhaps you have a coworker that is struggling with something outside of work — ask them how they’re holding up and invite them out for coffee. You may never be in the same circles again with the people that currently surround you, so maximize the time that you have with them.

Though the feeling of defeat can overtake us at times, seek the positive in your current role. Character is widely valuable to you as an individual and is something that can never be taken away by an employer, no matter how undervalued they make you feel. Strive to attain it.

Have you struggled in certain role at work? What did you learn from it?

Image via Marlena Pearl Photography


4 comments

  1. This. This is exactly what I needed at this stage in my career. It’s true; the only thing you can really control at work (or in life) is *you.* Thank you for the encouraging reminder!

  2. These words could not be more perfectly timed. Perhaps it is the time of year or a season of life when restlessness sets in. The eagerness to progress often results in discontent with the current situation. This reminder of character first creates an impetus for continued, diligent work.

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  3. I held a much sought after position at a top organization for two years in Washington, DC–my first job out of school. Living the dream, right? Wrong. The work environment was extremely unhealthy and I went home night after night in tears. Eventually, I put in my two weeks notice without another gig lined up. Thankfully, my risk was rewarded and I landed another position shortly thereafter with a company much better suited to my personality.

    That experience taught me very early on that life is not about prestige or influence. Coveted roles are not always what they’re hyped up to be. What’s more important than any title or resume is how you feel. Save yourself the trouble of chasing the elusive dream of power and perfection. Find happiness and fulfillment where you are now.

  4. This is so timely for me, and the photo choice is actually such a funny coincidence for me as I just got hired for my first “real person” job out of college in Seattle!

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