The waiting game: Don't waste the time-- fill it up!
In general, I’m not a big fan of waiting. But I have found that the art of waiting is to do it actively. The more action you can take, the more you feel like you're in control of your life.
...for a raise
Most companies have a designated time for raises. So when you decide you deserve more money, you probably have to wait for your big moment. In the meantime, constantly remind your boss about the good job you’re doing and subtly prepare her with all the supporting material she’ll need to justify your raise to her superiors. This means documenting as you go, with an email that’s easy to add to your yearly review as evidence of outstanding performance. Do research about salaries in your field. If the raise comes in low, whip out these statistics to show your value in the market.
....for a job you love
Many people know they’re not happy but don't know what would make them happy. The only way to figure out your dream job is to try doing a lot of things. You don't have to change jobs to try something new– you can volunteer, travel, interview people who are in fields you think you might like. People who know themselves well can pinpoint the job that would make them happy. Give yourself opportunities to learn about yourself. And think of your career like a mate– you’re better off actively looking than waiting for one to magically appear.
...for an offer
Here's a common scenario: You just interviewed for a job. You think everyone loved you and you're a perfect fit. So you sit by your phone hoping for a call. This is not good. A better way to wait is to step up the job hunting. If you can get another interview during your waiting time, you won’t be so desperate for the call. If you can drum up another job offer, be sure to tell everyone, because you’ll be more appealing to the employer you really want.
...for a meeting
If you don't know the person you’re meeting, assume each person who goes through the lobby is him or her. Look occupied and thoughtful but not busy, and be ready to stand up and shake hands. This means, for example, that you can’t have a stack of waiting room magazines on your lap. The same is true if it's a meeting with your co-workers and you're the first person there– try writing on a notepad or checking your Blackberry. Don't stare into space. Not that staring into space isn't productive, but it's like sex: It might be good for you, but that doesn't mean you look good doing it.
...for a better boss
Assume your boss is never leaving, and change your boss by changing yourself. Become better at managing up. Key factors are understanding your boss's fears so that you don't play into them; understanding your boss's preferences so you can be easy to deal with; understanding your boss's goals so you can help her meet them. Difficult bosses are usually scared and overwhelmed. Develop better people skills so you can soothe her worries where possible and ignore her the rest of the time.
...for a better opportunity
Forget it. Create your own opportunities. You can only find opportunity behind a door if you knock. So, knock on a lot of doors– you have no time to waste.
Penelope Trunk has worked for many businesses and even started a few, and now she's too busy to write her column, so this advice is reprinted from an earlier edition of the Hook.