Should you be biding your time in content ops?

Estimated read time: 4 minutes

Throughout my career – especially early on – one piece of advice people have liked to give: You should be biding your time. Sometimes it’s referred to as you have to put in your time. There could be several ways to look at that:

  • Don’t try to be too successful too early
  • Learn to walk before you run
  • Respect your elders

But does biding your time actually still work, or has it ever worked? In this article, I discuss:

There is also an aspect of biding your time as in creating content and knowing that it will take time to perform. That’s not the angle I’ll cover in this article. This is more about the culture and how teams interact.

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What does it mean to bid your time?

Biding your time seems to stem from the time when seniority matters or did matter. For example, when I covered law enforcement as a reporter early in my career, officers with more seniority got first dibs on better shifts, assignments, and whatnot. Other industries have similar seniority-based systems. However, I’m not aware of such systems for corporate content strategists.

In other industries, the phrase is sometimes used to put people in their place. For example, “You are new, and this person has been in the industry for 30 years. Put in your time before you try to make an impact, share your opinion, etc.”

Either way, at the core, biding your time is about the value or work of putting in the time. We might refer to it as waiting even. The longer you stay with a company, the more rights you have earned to succeed or have the job you want.

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When is biding your time a good strategy?

I can think of two reasons:

  • There’s an official benefit
  • It would help if you had the time to learn

To put in the time does make sense when there’s an official reason for it. Like in the police department example: Seniority matters. In companies that offer pensions – know any? – it also makes sense. Once you are biding your time, they’ll take care of you in retirement through that pension.

There’s also a time in careers when we should be biding our time because we need the time to learn how actually to do something. That could be in a new or first job. In that case, it’s not really about waiting your turn but more about that you have a lot to learn or catch up on.

Of course, there’s always something new to learn in content careers, so don’t mistake the ongoing need for learning with that initial push for learning the basics.

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And when isn’t it?

Biding your time might not be a good strategy when there’s no official benefit. Now, some people will try to tell you there are unwritten rules that happen to benefit them currently. So you’ll have to weigh your options, but be aware that it could just be an attempt to stifle personal advancement. Or even if it’s not meant to stifle your advancement, it certainly would defend the status quo.

I couldn’t even come up with an example of where a corporate content marketer should be just waiting for their time. Just do your best in your current job, keep building your skills and chase your dreams. Create stuff that matters to your audience and the business.

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Another problem I’ve seen recently is that some companies don’t want you to wait around and have swung to the other side of the spectrum. Instead of waiting your turn, they want you to come in and show results on Day 1 of employment or preferably before you even start.

That’s a fine line between seeing an opportunity or avoiding a red flag that signals disaster is waiting.

How to use the time to build your skills

Instead of waiting for your time to come, it’s always good to keep building our skills.

  • That could be by partnering with a mentor in your company or in your professional network.
  • Stay current on your industry’s new trends by listening to podcasts, reading blogs, and other industry materials.
  • Try things. Especially in content strategy, things change all the time. So yes, have a plan, but try different implementations. Try it from web stories to YouTube Shorts to whatever is currently trending!

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Knowing what you want

Biding your time also indicates an extent to move up the food chain or perhaps even rank. That may or may not be the best career strategy for some. Just because somebody is a rockstar content creator doesn’t automatically mean they would also be a good manager of content creators.

So knowing what you want in your career, what’s important to you, and where you can be happy while maximizing earnings are also important.

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