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9 easy career hacks that very few people actually do

Getting ahead of your game can be as simple as following up requests from clients.
By David Teten |

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These are some of the most valuable lessons you can learn early in your career. After getting more knowledge and experience, you'll realize that most of your success in your career is just executing on these basic points.

 

If you follow the steps below, you're well on your way to being a top quartile performer.

 

 

1. Listen and write down what you hear. 

One common advice is to always carry a notebook or a smartphone to take down notes. If you write down those tasks and actually execute them, you become known as someone worth asking to carry out these undertakings.

 

Related: How successful people stay productive and in control

 

Some people notice whether or not the task they asked for someone to do or something they said was taken down or not. If you don't, that could indicate that you may not be the sort of person who's diligent about listening to the market. Not good. Why take that risk?  

 

 

2. Get your data organized.  

Successful people are careful to retain and organize all of their notes: on meetings, people they meet and assignments for which they have responsibility, to name a few. Being extremely detail-oriented is generally a good professional characteristic.  

 

For instance, if you're a salesman someone could ask, "What CRM system do you use, and how many people are in it?"  A bad answer is, "Excel and a few hundred." A good answer is "Salesforce.com [or another real CRM system] and [a much larger number proportionate to your number of years of experience]"

 

 

3. Follow the instructions.

Before you do any task, look for the instructions. For example, a surprising number of funding pitches lack the basic information which investors require before funding -- even though Google provides that information in seconds. If a founder doesn't do some basic research before approaching investors, it's a sign she can't operate autonomously.

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4. Look for prior art.

Lilin Wang, a graduate student at Cornell Tech, observes that others have already tackled 80% of technical problems she tries to solve. If you look for solutions on forums such as Stack Overflow before you do a task, you typically will save a lot of time. Similarly, Authorea (ffVC portfolio company) is working on being Github for academics, making the research process more efficient. Also, Quora is a particularly good resource for founders.

 

Related: 7 qualities successful entrepreneurs have in common

 

 

5. Over-communicate.  

If you don't understand the objective of a task at hand or believe someone else has already accomplished it, it is important to keep an open line of communication with your colleagues. On the flip side, if you envision a way to produce a better result or product, communicate that to your colleagues and ensure it is aligned with their intended goal. Either way, you are making sure you are not wasting your time and reinforcing a relationship with others.

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6. Double check.  

The smartest person doesn't necessarily get promoted.  Rather, it's the person who catches the inevitable mistakes and fixes them. It's critical to double- and triple-check your work.  

 

For instance, whether it's a text for a tweet or a fundraising deck, Raffi Sapire, an analyst at Acumen, prints out and re-reads every piece of content before sending to her team. One of the marks of a good financial modeler is building checksums throughout her model; the analogous principle holds true for other tasks as well.

 

Lisa Shalett, formerly a partner at Goldman Sachs, observes that there are two buckets of things: those you can control and those you can't control. For the things you can control, you should nail them.

 

 

7. Follow up.  

If you ask someone to do something, set up a reminder to make sure they actually executed it.  When you meet people ask them for an email of a business plan, don't be too shy to send them a reminder when some time has passed and they haven't sent anything yet.

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Alberto Pepe, CEO of Authorea, observed that many entrepreneurs, especially those coming straight from academia, don't follow up, because they don't want to be perceived as annoying or too pushy. The trick is to find a balance between being too passive and being annoying-it's better than doing nothing.

 

 

8. Play nice and be nice.  

Early in your career, you typically advance based on a certain learned skillset. But very rapidly, your ability to work cooperatively with people inside and outside the firm becomes a big driver of your advance.   

 

 

9. Think differently.

Bring one idea to the table each month that would help your company or team achieve its goals and objectives for the year. Thoroughly think through the steps you will take to execute on that goal, and who needs to be involved at certain points. Even if only two ideas receive positive feedback and a go-ahead, highlighting your ability and history of disrupting the status quo is helpful when promotion discussions come around. 

 

Related: 5 traits all successful startup entrepreneurs have

 

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Copyright © 2015 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editor.


Photos from Flickr (reynermedia and Wirawat Lian-udom

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