“Find out what everyone else is doing, and then do the opposite…”
This quip seems particularly notable when you examine the way that the masses of professionals approach their career development decisions. Our team has over 150 years of search and placement experience. We know, without question, that the most common response we receive when bringing up the concept of evaluating new career opportunities is, “No thanks… I’m happy in my current role and I’m not looking right now.” You may hear that and think, “That makes sense. What’s your point?” Our point is, you wouldn’t walk down the sidewalk and see a $100 bill right below your feet and say, “No thanks… I’m happy and I’m not looking right now.” You’d bend down and you’d pick it up! Now maybe you don’t keep it. Maybe you’d try to get it back to the person who dropped it, right? But you certainly wouldn’t ignore it completely.
For some reason, the majority of professionals have conditioned themselves to believe that job and company changes should be considered primarily (or only) when one feels a need or is in some type of pain. Doesn’t it make sense that one should attempt to make career development decisions when they are in a position of strength as opposed to weakness? Wouldn’t it benefit one to evaluate career opportunities purely on merit vs. need? Isn’t one more likely to make a poor career decision when they need the paycheck or want to leave their current job?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, what next? What would it truly mean to, “do the opposite?”
First, establish an open connection with a trusted professional resource that will assist you in making a balanced assessment of your current career situation while you are successfully employed. For the record, this is what our Associates do at Delta Diversified when they begin working with someone.
Next, stay focused! Don’t confuse learning and data gathering with a true desire to pull the trigger on a career change. Use a stage-gate process that allows you to examine how an opportunity might help you meet your career objectives. Move forward one step at a time and don’t lose focus on execution in your current role.
Think ahead of the curve. Don’t just examine a job. Examine the difference in the track that you will be on and the career path you will be able to travel down. Too many poor career decisions have been made because of the “I don’t want to make a lateral move” thought process. Sometimes a lateral move makes more sense and creates more long term opportunity than taking a promotion. In fact, in a recent study we conducted, we found that 73% of people who changed companies last year saw a pay increase while only 65% who stayed with their current company saw an increase.
Finally, trust your assessment and decision making process. If you do find that there is a career opportunity that will put you and your family in a better near and long-term position and you have carefully vetted the pros and cons of the opportunity, trust your decision making process. Fear of change and the unknown is typical human behavior. The majority of professionals out there are conditioned to believe that unknowns are risks and have negative consequences when in fact there is no proof to support this belief.