Just as we need to take charge of our physical wellbeing, we need to develop strategies that promote a healthy, robust career. Here are some ideas for making the most of your career opportunities.
1. Get in the habit of tracking your accomplishments weekly. Simply create a document or file folder on your computer or in your desk drawer. Title it “weekly accomplishments.” Every Friday, before you close out your workweek, jot down a few of your successes from the previous seven days. When you review the folder prior to your next performance evaluation or resume update, you will discover achievements that you have forgotten about and that your boss probably has forgotten, too. When monetized, these accomplishments can be used to negotiate a better than average raise, support a request for promotion and increase your value during job interviews.
2. Review your resume and LinkedIn profiles every six months. Update both at least every 12 months using the material from your weekly accomplishment file. Keeping your marketing materials current ensures that when opportunity presents itself, you are ready!
3. Hone your skills and stay up to date on technology. If something unexpected happens – the market tanks or your company experiences a financial setback you need to be prepared to re-enter the job market. You can’t and shouldn’t rely on your company to invest in your career, that is your job. Be proactive about staying competitive.
4. If you are miserable at work do whatever you need to do to fix it, change your attitude, reconsider your options, fire your boss. Life is too short to stay in a job that doesn’t fit. Even if you can’t make an immediate change, you can make a plan for improving your situation. Consider aptitude testing to help you discover your in-born strengths (Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation jocrf.org). If you feel stuck, enlist the support of a good career coach. Whatever you do take action!
5. Pay attention to red flags – during interviews and on the job. If something doesn’t feel right, it isn’t right. No matter how much we wish it away, the issue won’t magically go to away and no amount of money is going to make it right. If your boss doesn’t treat you with respect, if the company doesn’t value your contribution, don’t wait for them to change. It is far more likely that your situation will deteriorate or that you will lose your job when you least expect it or can afford it.
6. Get in the habit of negotiating. Provided that you are delivering value, every performance evaluation is an opportunity to re-negotiate your value. Every time you are offered a job or promotion and each time you successfully complete a high-profile/high-value project you have an opportunity to increase your market value. If you don’t ask, you won’t get. Build your negotiation muscle – doing so can add as much as $800,000 to $1,000,000 to your lifetime earnings. This can mean the difference between financial independence and retiring in poverty.
Mary Jeanne Vincent, career expert and strategist, has a coaching practice in Monterey. She may be reached at 831-657-9151, firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.careercoachmonterey.com.