DURING THE GREAT RECESSION, WHEN HUGE LAYOFFS AND FREQUENT DOWNSIZINGS WERE THE GENERAL ORDER OF THE DAY FOR MANY, MANY EMPLOYERS, literally millions of men and women were in constant, sometimes paralyzing fear that the next “heads” on “the chopping block” could quickly and easily end up being their own.
Thank goodness, now that hiring and retention rates approach more acceptable norms, that fear has been somewhat assuaged. That said, though, if currently employed, you still need to ensure that you carefully—and continually—manage and monitor your career by assiduously avoiding the FIVE career mistakes featured in this post. These quite common mistakes can be (and are being) made by otherwise savvy men and women each and every day, and they can quickly and easily derail an otherwise promising career.
Career Mistake #1
FORGETTING (OR NOT REALIZING) THAT THE BEST TIME TO SEARCH OUT A NEW CAREER OPPORTUNITY IS WHILE YOU STILL HAVE A JOB.
For some unfathomable reason, some people who have become dissatisfied with their current job, for whatever reason(s), suddenly decide to resign that job. Why? They think it will give them the time they need to find a new, more rewarding career opportunity. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth, and that applies to any job market, including today’s.
What this means to you: Almost without exception, it is always, always, always, far easier to get a new job while you still have a job! So, if it’s at all possible, never resign your current position until you have actually landed a NEW position!
Career Mistake #2
THINKING (OR BELIEVING) THAT YOUR COMPANY WILL BE AS LOYAL TOYOU AS YOU MAY BE TO IT.
Company loyalty to employees has long been a thing of the past, if it ever truly existed at all. Make no mistake about it, companies, virtually all companies, exist for one primary purpose: To make money! If the company doesn’t actually make money, it certainly won’t be in business long.
The company doesn’t care if you and your family have health insurance. It doesn’t care if you are unable to adequately feed, clothe and house your family. Companies are not “people,” though of course they are made up of people. Companies are business entities, first and foremost, and as such, they will do whatever is necessary stay in operation—including eliminating your job, if that should become necessary to stay profitable or register greater earnings.
What this means to you: Don’t ever allow yourself to be lulled in to any false sense of security. Remember, no matter how “stable” the job market (or your own job) appears to be, on any given Friday afternoon, that could suddenly and drastically change! Learn to manage and continually monitor your own career’s bottom line the same way you can be assured that the company will be monitoring its bottom line.
Career Mistake #3
NOT EFFECTIVELY BRANDING YOURSELF AS SOMEONE WHO CAN MAKE A COMPANY MONEY AND/OR SAVE A COMPANY MONEY, OR IDEALLY, AS SOMEONE WHO CAN ACCOMPLISH BOTH OF THESE GOALS.
Today, you will not be hired exclusively because you have the correct technical skills, experience and/or know-how. You must also brand yourself, and position yourself, as someone who can a.) solve a hiring manager’s (or hiring company’s) problems; and/or b.) deliver a solution (or solutions) to his/her business needs. In other words, in today’s job market, it all boils down to this simple question: Can you make a company money or save a company money, or BOTH?
What this means to you: If you aren’t already in the mindset of recognizing the vital importance of being able to make a company money or to save the company money, then start getting into that mindset TODAY! Regardless of your current position, learn to translate (in dollars, numbers and/or percentages) how everything you do in your current job has a direct and definite impact of your current company’s bottom line. And, of course, ensure that this information is prominently highlighted in your current résumé.
Career Mistake #4
FAILURE TO EVEN ENTERTAIN AN EXPLORATORY CONVERSATION ABOUT YOUR CAREER, YOUR FUTURE.
I wish I could honestly say that most professionals I contact about exciting new career opportunities are at least somewhat open to considering them. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case at all. Usually, out of some misplaced sense of loyalty to their current employer, or because of unreasonable feelings of guilt and/or betrayal to their employer, many professionals will not even consider exploring such a conversation.
What this means to you: Refusing to even consider new career opportunities, no matter how satisfied and content you may be with your current position, could easily and quickly derail your career, if things were suddenly and unexpectedly to head south for you! (See Career Mistake #2)
Career Mistake #5
IF OFFERED A NEW, BETTER POSITION WITH ANOTHER COMPANY, YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT ENTERTAINING A COUNTEROFFER FROM YOUR CURRENT EMPLOYER.
It costs a lot of time and money to replace valuable employees, not to even mention the possible disruption of key projects and company initiatives caused by the sudden departure of a key leader or key player. And, if you can count yourself among this group of valued employees, you can reasonably anticipate that you will be made a counteroffer when you go in to resign.
When you are made a counteroffer, you’ll undoubtedly be led to believe that the company genuinely values you and your contributions, that they simply can’t do without you. You may be offered a higher salary, a promotion, more authority and responsibility. Heady stuff indeed! Nearly always, however, the truth of the matter is that the hiring manager (and the company) is merely biding his/her time until you can be replaced by someone who is more “loyal,” more “dependable.”
What this means to you: While there are exceptions to every rule, if you decide to accept a counteroffer you could actually be committing “career suicide”! Why? From the moment you tender your resignation you easily could be branding yourself as a “traitor,” someone who can’t be fully relied upon to contribute to the “team.” (Never mind the fact that, if the situation were to be reversed, the company wouldn’t hesitate to let you go, if it suited its purpose.) That promised salary increase, that promotion? They could mysteriously and quite unexpectedly be “put on temporary hold” because of “budget considerations.” Happens all the time!
Remember the Boy Scout Motto!
Let me be quite clear here: I am NOT suggesting that you become a raging paranoid about your current job or your entire career, continually looking over your shoulder and never trusting anyone or anything. What I am suggesting is that you adopt the motto made famous by the Boy Scouts of American. Remember what it is?
While hardly an exhaustive examination, if you adhere to the advice featured in this post, you will indeed be prepared to anticipate—and then avoid making!—the mistakes so many currently employed men and women continue to make, mistakes that could easily and quickly derail an otherwise promising career.
This post is based upon career management information and advice featured in Career Stalled? How to Get YOUR Career Back in HIGH Gear and Land the Job You Deserve—Your DREAM Job!, Skip’s most recent book in the “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets Series of Career Development & Management Publications.
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