Career turning points are a two step process.
First, you have to recognize that you have, in fact, reached a turning point. You’ve hit that level where your next step is going to determine how the next ten years are likely to play out. So how do you do this?
By being reflective.
Build it into your schedule. Open up your calendar app and on the first day of each season write in “Quarterly Review”. When the day comes sit with a pen and paper for 20-30 minutes. List the quarter’s wins and losses. Then predict where you’ll be in three months.
This should be enough to get you in the reflective mood and open to the possibiltiy of a turning point.
Second, you have to decide to act. A turning point implies direction, so you have to decide which way you are going to move.
Do you want to turn towards a new challenge, or back towards predictability? Neither choice is objectively right or wrong. But only one choice is the right decision for you.
Sometimes the simplest tools are the best ones. Make a good ol’ fashioned pro/con list and see where you end up. More often than not the right decision will be obvious once you have looked at it objectively.
There has been a lot of complaining about job seekers and recruiters and how they treat each other. Sometimes I think we just all need to treat each other with a little more grace.
I periodically reread parts of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations and came across a quote that really resonated this morning as pertaining to this ongoing argument.
[E]very soul is deprived of truth against its will. The same holds true for justice, self control, good will to others and every other virtue. It is essential to constantly keep this in your mind, for it will make you more gentle to all.
No one has all the answers. No one wakes up in the morning and decides to try to ruin someone else’s day. We’re all just stumbling along the same road trying to do our best.
Do we screw up? You betcha. But if we remembered that we are all part of the same struggle it would go a long way to making the journey a bit smoother.
Your job is a boat. It helps you get through the sea of life. But what if your boat starts taking on water?
Basically, you have three options:
-Don’t worry about the leak, just keep the boat straight.
-Find a new boat
If you choose number one you are persistent and want to see things through.
If you choose the second option you recognize the urgency of the situation.
The third strategy? That just might be the best option- quit and find yourself a new job.
The trick is determining how bad the leak is and whether things are recoverable. But don’t discount option three. You’re not living in a romance novel; you don’t have to go down with the ship.
When you think of building something you think of creating a strong foundation first. Then adding solid construction on top of that. A building, when properly constructed is strong and can weather a storm.
A lot of people use the metaphor of building when it comes to their career. Heck one of the more popular websites in the field is called Career Builder.
But I’m not sure that is the best image to use. Today’s economy is dynamic. Its changing. With AI, automation and machine learning if you are not agile you’re not going to last.
Buildings are anything but agile. But you know what is? A garden.
Let’s reframe the discussion and start thinking about growing our careers like a garden. Carefully till the soil. Plant the right seeds. Clear out the weeds. Rest the soil when necessary.
If your career is growing and dynamic it will survive.
When you start school, one of your first lessons is to learn the alphabet. Mastering your ABC’s is the key to unlocking all the rest that the world of knowledge has to offer.
Your first steps in the job search are not too different. In fact, it is still a matter of learning your ABC’s. The context is just a little different.
ABC = Always Be Connecting
Connecting with others, networking, has always been an important step in growing a career, but today networking is an essential for finding high-quality job openings and getting access to the decision makers when it comes to hiring.
Employers will always favor people they either know or those who come recommended, and it has never been easier to become known than it is today in our social media age.
Now more than ever, it really is about who you know.
By expanding your network and staying regularly engaged you can create roads to reach recruiters and make opportunities to earn recommendations.
Making yourself marketable to employers is a multi-faceted proposition, but there is one area in particular I see people struggle with….
Too often they see themselves as products, and as things they feel they should differentiate themselves from other candidates.
“Look at all these things that make me different from other applicants!”
That is fine as far as it goes, but it isn’t what is going to land you the interview or get you the offer. Don’t struggle to be different, struggle to be remarkable.
I know it is cliche, but, be the rockstar. Be the person the interview team has to talk about at the end of the day. Find out who you really are, what you do best, and then shine as bright as you can.
You can do this!
The next time you are tasked with a duty at work that you are not thrilled about, try this little jedi mind trick on yourself.
If anyone could do it, it would have been assigned to someone else. Instead, it was assigned to you.
You are uniquely prepared to do what you do, so do it well.