Stand out from your peers and maximize your Career Building Stand out from your peers and maximize...
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Career Building Stand out from your peers and maximize your chances for success. By Scott Warner, MLT(ASCP)
In the hit musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, a window washer climbing the
corporate ladder asks, “Be patient? Don’t you realize
I’ve been working here, well, 2 whole hours now?”1 A
meteoric rise to the top doesn’t seem so farfetched in
American business. Working in a busy laboratory day-in,
day-out is a grind of a different nature, but opportunities
still exist to stand out from the crowd.
This article explores elements of career building to
help you stand out from your peers and maximize your
chances for success.
➤ Keep up Momentum Even if you love your job, keeping that momentum of
the first day’s thrill can be difficult. Our current eco-
nomic crisis has soured attitudes, creating for many a
love-hate relationship with their work and stunting their
careers in the process.
The business research firm the Conference Board
found in 2008 a 12 percent drop in worker satisfac-
tion since 1987 from 61 percent.2 One reason is that in
1987, more people found their jobs interesting (71 per-
cent compared to 51 percent).2 But the economy could
be a bigger reason. Wages adjusted for inflation
1 MEDICAL LABORATORY PROFESSIONALS: CArEEr BuIlDIng
for Medical Laboratory Professionals®
have been shrinking since 2000, and more workers are
making bigger contributions to health insurance.2 The
hardest hit attitudes belong to workers younger than
25—you, the new graduates.2
These findings are echoed by a gallup-Healthways
Well-Being Index that has recorded a steady drop in job
satisfaction since 2008.3 Staff reductions and concerns
about job security heightened by unemployment are
among the reasons.3 Even if your facility’s workforce
has not been greatly hurt by the economy, friends and
family members may be.
➤ Know What’s Expected To build your career on a solid foundation and gain
the valuable experience you need to succeed, and
to be happy in your career, you need to first know
When you are hired for a position, you may have a
legal contract of employment or be
represented by a third party such as
a labor union. While this can broad-
ly define negotiated issues such
as pay, hours and benefits, it often
doesn’t define implicit obligations
between you and your employer.
You’re on your own to learn what is
expected or hope to be told in plain,
The term “psychological contract,”
from the work in the 1960s by orga-
nization behavioral theorists Chris
Argyris and Edgar Schein, is used
to describe mutual perceptions of
what employers and employees ex-
pect from each other.5 Breach of this
implicit contract (e.g., ignoring extra work above and
beyond colleagues, can seriously damage this relation-
ship). Elements of this contract as summarized by one
human resources consulting firm are summarized in
Table 1. While some of the elements of a psychological con-
tract are implicit (e.g., work hard and be recognized) and
others specified (e.g., shift volunteers are not chosen at
random for less desirable assignments), expectations
will sometimes not align.
A recent Salary.com survey shows that what employ-
ees want and what employers think they want are dif-
ferent.6 Hr professionals focus on benefits and com-
pensation—the legal contract of employment—while
employees cite a lack of opportunities and recognition—
elements of the psychological contract—as reasons for
leaving.6 Top factors are summarized in Table 2.
➤ Stand Up and Stand Out When it comes to upholding an implicit psychological
contract that includes unspoken elements, standing out
and succeeding is easier than you might think. Seasoned
or fresh to the workforce, it can boost or lay the ground-
work for career success. Being a standout amongst
peers will also improve your mental health and make
you happier in your job. Here are a few dos and don’ts: n Do be on time. This includes the start of your shift,
breaks and lunch. Employers notice these little things. n Do go the extra mile. If it’s within your ability to do
more, you should do more. Doing what everyone else
is doing will make you look like everyone else. n Do be the employee you would like to hire. We
all think we know more than the boss from time to
time. Put yourself in that position and see what the
boss sees. n Don’t gossip. When colleagues vent and complain
about the boss, walk away. Whatever you say will
eventually get back to those in charge. n Don’t waste your employer’s time. If you’re mak-
ing personal phone calls and chatting about matters
outside work, you are not giving your employer your
undivided attention and will be seen as less of an as-
set and more of a liability. n Don’t use personal days. Sure, your benefits
2 MEDICAL LABORATORY PROFESSIONALS: CArEEr BuIlDIng
Table 1: employer and employee Commitments to Meet expectations5
EMPLOYEES PROMISE TO: EMPLOYERS PROMISE:
work hard pay commensurate with performance
uphold company reputation opportunities for training and development
maintain high levels of attendance and punctuality opportunities for promotion
show loyalty to the organization recognition for innovation or new ideas
work extra hours when required feedback on performance
develop new skills and update old ones interesting tasks
be flexible an attractive benefits package
be courteous to clients and colleagues respectful treatment
be honest reasonable job security
come up with new ideas a pleasant and safe working environment WhAT EMPLOYERS ThINK EMPLOYEES WANT WhAT EMPLOYEES WANT
• adequate benefits • friendly coworkers
• friendly coworkers • good managers
• fair compensation • desirable commute
Table 2: employer and employee expectation6
for Medical Laboratory Professionals®
3 MEDICAL LABORATORY PROFESSIONALS: CArEEr BuIlDIng
package includes a few days a month, but saving
them for an emergency or planned vacation is a bet-
In fields such as medical laboratory science, employ-
ers hire and even promote based on technical skills.
But as one career resource site points out, “soft skills,”
such as professionalism, proactive communication and
a positive attitude can give a competitive edge when
employers are considering people for promotion and
make your career economy proof.8
Your technical expertise, while valuable, is one dimen-
sion of what builds your career. By developing skills
and attitudes that make you stand out from the crowd,
you’ll be seen as an asset, have more opportunity, and
be more productive and happy in your work, leading to
better patient care. n
Scott Warner is lab manager at Penobscot Valley Hos-
pital, Lincoln, ME.
References 1. IMDB. Memorable quotes for How to Succeed in
Business Without Really Trying. Available at: www.
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4irFvxrVqlk3mxtMVmCulO. last accessed Feb.
3. Mendes E. uS job satisfaction struggles to recov-
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7. Morris T. Most valuable employee: how to stand out
to your boss. Available at: http://voices.yahoo.com/
html?cat=31. last accessed Feb. 22, 2012.
8. Smith A. How to stand out at work. Available at: