Benjamin Franklin wrote: "Take time for all things: great haste makes great waste."
Too often job seekers are in a hurry to make things happen. They want to write their resume in one day. They want to receive a job offer after one interview. They accept the first job that is offered to them. Listen to Wise Old Ben. Take the time to get things right. This doesn't mean taking forever, or using "getting it right" as an excuse for doing nothing. Have a plan and a schedule. In most cases, this means a few days, not weeks or months. Review what you have done, and ask for opinions from people you trust. It's good to have a sense of urgency, but career management is all about making strategic decisions that will affect the rest of your life. Take some time to make those decisions.
I often direct readers to Seth Godin’s blog. Godin has that rare skill of capturing complex ideas in clear, concise language. Recently, he hit another home run. Rather than think of our careers as a single calling, we should talk about “caring.” Godin says we care about many things, and those forces should drive how we work. I agree. Moreover, caring lets us balance our work and our non-work lives. If a person’s work keeps her from other things she cares about, she probably should look for a new job. A good salary and the recognition from co-workers or clients are great things. But if that’s all someone has, life is, that person's life is – literally – all work and no play.
Both coaches in today's Super Bowl, Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks and Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots, have coached championships teams. They are regarded as the best at what they do. Both have also led teams that were not successful. When Carroll coached New England, many experts thought he would never be a great coach. The same is true of Belichick's time with the Cleveland Browns. Both coaches had faith in themselves and their talent. The picked themselves up and gave themselves another chance to succeed. Successful people often have a low point in their career. Their critics call them losers. Real champions like Carroll and Belichick end up with the last laugh.
One of my clients just called with good news. He received a job offer two days ago and another one today. Better still, he interviewed for a third time with a potential employer who will probably make him an offer tomorrow. What should he do?
Take the time to make the best deal. He’s already gotten both of the companies that have made offers to wait until Friday to let him make a decision. He’s asked the company making a lower offer to raise it. And he’s informed the company that has not made an offer that he has two other potential employers waiting for him to make a decision.
This is the ideal situation, and it doesn’t happen often. Be sure that you are communicating clearly and honestly with your prospective employers. If you’re going to use multiple offers to ask for more money, know that there is a risk that an employer will retract its offer. However, if that employer really wants you, they will pay more or find some other way to compensate you.
When you’re in a position like this, be calm and strategic. Make the deal that works best for you.
One of my favorite websites Big Think featured a quotation from the great Zen teacher Alan Watts: “The only way to make sense of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
We often resist change and hang on to what we can no longer have, or – worse still – cling to that which is not good for us. Watts’ advice is very relevant to anyone thinking about changing jobs or careers. Don’t dread the change. Dance with it.
Have you ever quit a job or declined to take a promotion because you felt you were going in the wrong direction? A few of my clients have. Most, however, follow a path set for them by their employer. They are passive in following a path that is meant to do what is best for the company.
I met a client today, we’ll call her Jane, who didn’t follow her employer’s path. She achieved a high level of success in technical sales, and her employer wanted to assign her to a key account. The good news would be that her salary would have $100,000. However, Jane had just gotten married and wanted to have a family. She declined the promotion, quit her job, and started a business she has run for the last 8 years.
Now Jane is looking to return to corporate America. A few employers will not hire her because she has not worked in a corporate role. Others will look at her career and see someone who has corporate experience and entrepreneurial success. Jane took charge of her career and now is making another change that serves her goals, not simply doing what is best for her employer.
I often cite the writer Seth Godin. One of his favorite mottoes is to “draw your own map.” I can’t think of better advice for career success. There will be obstacles and diversions as we plan where we want to go. The alternative is to do what someone else wants to you do. That can be the path to a good income and a fancy title, but it’s just as often a road to frustration. Do what makes you happy and lets you live the life you want. Do it thoughtfully and strategically. Make the map you own.
I discovered an interesting writer today. Her name Heidi Krauel Patel, and her blog is featured on the Big Think website. Patel considers how her work experience and that of recent MBA graduates has moved from a focus on making money to one that is concerned with doing good. Investors are seeking funds that will be provide profits and fit their values. Patel says that the goal of her blog is to offer both job seekers and investors a way to incorporate “personal values” into their career and financial planning. I wish Patel the best and will follow her blog with anticipation.
The job market is not as bad as it was four years ago, but it’s still not good. I’ve met several talented people – career changers, new college graduates – who assume that they have to take entry level jobs because the market is so bad. This is a bad career management strategy.
Look at the jobs you think you are qualified for and apply for the jobs that fit your ability and experience. Students often forget that the skills and knowledge they learn in school give them value that often puts them above the first rung on the ladder. Similarly, career changers bring value through transferable skills and flexibility gained in other jobs. Test your value by finding 8-10 posts for jobs you would want to do. Don’t start by looking for entry level. Try to find higher level jobs that you are qualified to fill. That will give you an opportunity to make more money know and move up faster to the kind of positions that you will find challenging and fulfilling.
If you live in an area or have a skill level that limits you to entry level positions, try to find a company where you will have an ability to move up, learn higher level skills, and make more money. Don’t trap yourself in a lower level job before you have to. Always look for ways to climb the career ladder.
One of my clients, let’s call him Jim, came to see me about a career change. Jim has had a very successful career in sales, but feels burnt out. He also wants to get off the road and spend more time with his family. We discussed his options for career change. Given his industry expertise and background in sales, it would be natural for Jim to pursue a new career in purchasing. He was excited by that option.
Here’s the problem that leads to hard choices: If he pursues a career in purchasing, Jim is likely to face a big cut in salary, as much as $50,000. Against this, he has to weigh time away from his family and the pressure that comes with a six-figure sales position. What should Jim do? I rose the questions, but didn’t have a good answer. When we make career changes to improve quality of life, one of the challenges is often working for a lower salary. Jim is weighing his options with his wife. His story is one many people are facing today. The choices aren’t easy.
I often cite Seth Godin, who’s one of my favorite writers and thinkers. In his book, The Dip¸ Godin explores how winners know how to quit the things that hold them back from moving forward. The New Yorker has published a short essay by Adrian Cardenas, who last played in the Chicago Cubs organization. He played in 45 games for the Cubs in 2012. Cardenas is eloquent in explaining why he left the big leagues to focus on being a student.
I was especially impressed by his confession that money took away from the joy of the game. That’s a hard confession to make. Most of us would kill to make the minimum big league salary. Baseball as a business was not what Cardenas, a student at New York University, wanted. Leaving the sport is his first step to a new life. May he find happiness.
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