NEW YORK (MONEY Magazine) -
Don't let your job become routine. Make a few changes here and there and see if you can't give your career a jolt.
11 | SEND A MESSAGE Getting to the office at 7 a.m. so you can e-mail your boss before she arrives is the oldest trick in the book -- and, if used sparingly, highly effective.
12 | MAKE A CO-WORKER OBSOLETE Got a free moment? Don't Web surf. Tell whomever you report to that you've polished off your work faster than expected and you're available.
"If you want plum assignments, don't be afraid to say you're not busy," says MetTel's Mitchell. "Demonstrate that you can not only do your job but other people's jobs, and better than they can. It's a bit cutthroat, but it's what you have to do."
13 | TAKE A CLASS There's always more to learn. Enrolling in a job-related class can solidify your knowledge and get you a certificate to show for it.
It helped Bruce Pecci avoid getting laid off from his utility company during a shake-up. He had been transferred from a technical position to a project management role, "but people still thought of me more as a technical resource than someone who could manage projects and lead teams," says Pecci, 34.
So he became the first person in his department to be certified as a project management professional by taking a four-day class. "It was important to show I had experience and demonstrate why they should retain me," says Pecci, who lives near Columbus, Ohio.
14 | BE THE MOTIVATOR YOUR BOSS DOESN'T HAVE TIME TO BE Good bosses know praise makes people work harder. By lauding co-workers in an e-mail and copying your boss, you're doing him the favor of motivating others.
"An employee down in the ranks who gets noticed favorably will think, 'Maybe I shouldn't be just a lump over here collecting my paycheck, because getting that recognition was fun,'" says David Erickson, president of Parker Stephens, an ad agency in Irvine, Calif. "The person who sent that e-mail would be perceived as a good manager because that's what good managers do."
15 | MAKE E-MAIL STAND OUT Corporate America sends more than 7 billion e-mails a day, according to the International Data Corp. Give messages must-read subject lines. "Good News" is more enticing than "here it is."
Michelle Peluso, CEO of the travel search engine Travelocity, will never forget the employee who was requesting a meeting to discuss a cost-saving plan and sent an e-mail titled "You Bring the Ice Cream, I'll Bring the $2 Million."
16 | ALWAYS BRING A CARD Keep at least five business cards on you at all times. You never know who you'll encounter at the movies or on an airplane, and giving out your number on the back of a grocery receipt is lame.
17 | SIGN UP After more than a year working in an entry-level position in Birkenstock's warehouse, Tim Grimmer didn't see much room to move up. But when he saw a notice about a new task force on health and wellness, he signed up.
"Working alongside people in marketing and accounting helped me see the company differently," says Grimmer, 33. A sales position opened up a few months later, and a manager from the task force asked him to apply. He landed the job and now, six years later, he manages Birkenstock's largest brand, which has more than $60 million in annual sales.
18 | JOIN THE CLUB There's a professional organization for virtually every field, from the Professional Marketing Research Society to the Meat Importers and Traders Association.
But mere membership doesn't give you wheeler-dealer status. Laurence Stybel, co-founder of Stybel Peabody & Lincolnshire, a Boston career management firm, is a member of the Association for Corporate Growth. Stybel, 58, recently joined the group's program committee, and his first task was to call CEOs to invite them to speaking engagements -- not a bad way to meet wheeler-dealers.
19 | GO OVERSEAS Moving abroad for an assignment is a big move, to say the least, but it can be a powerful way to awaken a dozing career. Not everyone can just up and leave the country, but plenty of people do it -- kids or no kids. Web sites such as Expatfocus.com and Transitionsabroad.com can help you decide whether you and your family could weather a foreign stint.
Taking an assignment far from home broadens your experience and ensures that you will be considered for new responsibilities when you return.
The strategy succeeded for Richard Montross, who worked in sales for Amana for 35 years and was promoted at age 49 and again at 50 after requesting stints in Brussels and the United Kingdom. The assignments were both short term, and his family remained in the United States.
"I had worked for Amana for 29 years, and the company was hiring young M.B.A.s," says Montross, who is now 60. "I was at the point in my career when it would have been easy to say I was washed up. But I learned so much, and it reinvigorated me."
20 | SEEK CRITICISM Don't wait till your annual review to get feedback, says Anne Murray, 46, senior director of interactive marketing at Southwest Airlines. She requests a meeting with her boss once a quarter to discuss performance. Do this, and the only surprise at your next review will be how good it is.
21 | JUST MOVE ON Of course, the time may be right to start anew. Update your résumé. Tell a few friends you're looking, but be discreet.
Set up a separate e-mail account for your job search, and if you need to fax a résumé, go to Kinko's. A little sneaking around -- changing from your interview suit to business casual on the fly -- may be required, but it's for a good cause: a new, more challenging place to work every day. And when you land that job, reading this article will be completely unnecessary.
Five signs your career is stalled
You know you need a jump-start if...
- Others who were hired about the same time as you, at the same level, have been promoted or have moved on to better jobs.
- It's been more than a year since your last raise, says Alexandra Levit, author of the twentysomething career guide "They Don't Teach Corporate in College."
- You've been in your job twice as long as anyone else in the same position.
- Personal phone calls are part of your regular routine at work. There's nothing wrong with a personal call, but the busier you are, the less time you have to chat with your sister.
- You know exactly what you're going to do every day.