Seven steps to take now for a better job in '08

Dreaming of a big promotion or a new job come January? The time to lay the foundation is right now.

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7. Become an entrepreneur

The best thing you can start doing right now to improve your job situation is to become an entrepreneur, says Chad Fowler, author of My Job Went to India (And All I Got Was This Lousy Book): 52 Ways to Save Your Job.

"I don't necessarily mean you should start your own business, although that might not be a bad idea either," he says. "What I mean is that you should apply the spirit of entrepreneurship to every piece of work you do." In other words, you don't have to run your own company to be an entrepreneur; you just have to take ownership for your work.

In Fowler's terms, that means a person who organizes, operates and assumes risk.

Specifically, "organize" means creating value for your employer by discovering ideas that could change the business and then selling those ideas to your co-workers and managers. "Operate" means taking initiative and managing your own time and objectives instead of always waiting for someone to manage you. "Assuming risk" means trying new things. "If you never fail, you never try anything that stretches your boundaries," Fowler says.

How to apply that thinking to a real-world situation? Imagine you're part of a team creating customer service software for a large consumer products company, Fowler says.

Because you've made a point to spend time with the actual service reps, you notice that they waste a significant amount of time on a certain class of support call. You do some research and determine that adding some business logic into your team's software could save the client's call center 1% of its person-hours per week, resulting in real bottom-line savings.

You work up a proof of concept on your lunch breaks, demonstrate the concept and its associated metrics to your manager, and ta-da! You're given the go-ahead to lead the development of a full implementation of the new feature.

What are you waiting for?

Whether you decide to upgrade your skills, get certified or simply boost your profile in the office, if you're gunning for a career makeover in 2008, it's important to get started now.

In the roiling waters of IT, even a small move now can result in a big tide change later. That knock on your manager's door today could get you that much closer to the shores of a happier work life tomorrow.

Brandel is a Computerworld contributing writer in Newton, Mass. Contact her at

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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