The Pareto Principle and Your Career

The Pareto Principle and Your Career - Career Makeover Academy

Introduction to the Pareto Principle

We’ve all heard of the Pareto Principle in some capacity or other. Some of us know it as the '80/20 Rule'. While others are more familiar with the 'Law of the Vital Few'.

No matter what you call it, it boils down to this: 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

A common example in the business world would be the saying: ’80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients’.

This means one could posit that 80% of your job success comes from 20% of your efforts.

Let’s think about your office for a moment. You can usually point out those considered to be slackers and workaholics pretty early on in your career.

Which ones tends to get most of the accolades, bonuses, responsibility, and promotions?

The people who have curried favor with the higher level muckety mucks.

Who do those managers and supervisors heap praise upon? The people who make their lives easier.


The Pareto Principle and Your Career - Career Makeover Academy

A lot of people mistake this to mean that they HAVE to work harder or longer to achieve a modicum of success.

They labor under the illusion that being the consummate workhorse with complete, unfaltering dedication to the company is the way to go.

This could well be the case in some environments, but this isn’t really maintainable over the long haul. Which means there is a very low level of probability you won’t burn out before you reach the apex of your success.

Taking this into consideration, it seems like that may render the whole sacrifice thing a bit moot, right?


The Pareto Principle and Your Career - Career Makeover Academy

Instead, we should focus on maximizing our value without minimizing our quality of life.

Look at the people who are where you want to be and emulate them.

Learn from them.

Don’t take advice from your grumbling peers who have only gotten standard of living increases for the past 5 years, constantly complain, and spend most of their time surfing the net.

The Pareto Principle in Action

The Pareto Principle and Your Career - Career Makeover Academy

Have informational interviews with the people who are performing at the level you want aspire to.

Seek mentorship from them.

(Trust me, if you ask 5 people at least one of them will be extremely flattered you reached out.) 

These people are doing it right. They've figured out the formula for success in your particular workplace.

If you aspire to be like them learn from them, and figure out exactly where to focus your energies. 

Become Effective & Efficient

The Pareto Principle and Your Career - Career Makeover Academy

Learn to resolve the issues causing your boss (and your boss's boss) major headaches.

Develop the skills you are lacking by focusing on those which create success in your particular environment.

This is the way to ensure that you can climb the proverbial corporate ladder with ease. It will also give you the ability to maintain a work-life balance that brings you deeper satisfaction.

Other side benefits of having your boss appreciate you and your work include:

  • Greater Autonomy
  • Entrusting you with more interesting projects
  • Allowing you to pick and choose the projects you want to work on
  • More responsibility
  • Financially investing in you (through training, bonuses, raises, etc)

These are just a few of the perks you can likely acquire by being an active participant in your own career instead of an innocent bystander.


Have you ever successfully used the Pareto Principle in your career? Share your story!


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Stephanie Berchiolly

Teaching you the skills to get a new job or change to a career that you love.