Being The CEO Of Your Career
You’ve been at your current job for years. On the surface, things seem fine. But, you wonder why you haven’t received a promotion by now. You wish you could continue your education. And, how is someone much younger than you making so much more money?
If you’re like many people, you may feel pretty unhappy at work. And, why wouldn’t you? In generations past, employees stayed at one company for their entire career and were well taken care of. With employees now switching jobs every 4.6 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, companies have little incentive to provide large promotions and funding for continued education.
Companies often spend their time recruiting the best talent away from other firms. Those new employees receive better titles and much higher compensation packages. In such a competitive market, jobseekers are often left wondering what they can do to get ahead.
Take responsibility for your own career
The first key is to move yourself from the backseat to the driver’s seat. In today’s market, you must be the CEO of your own career. It’s nobody’s responsibility but your own for you to get ahead.
Take the time to analyze your own strengths and weaknesses. Look for opportunities to highlight what you’re good at and find ways to get improve in areas where you lag behind.
Always be looking for your next opportunity
If you aren’t finding what you need at your current job, it may be time to move on. According to Dr. Charles Austin, Director of Career Development at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, “You won’t be there long, so always keep looking. You’re always hustling for your next job. What’s been true for musicians and those in the entertainment industry is now true for the rest of the country. Everyone’s a freelancer.”
Whether you’re a contractor or full-time employee, this lesson is the same. In today’s environment, even successful longtime employees find themselves unemployed when their company goes out of business or implements cutbacks. If you haven’t spent the time nurturing your network, you will have a much longer road ahead of you. Those who stay in touch with contacts and make a point to expand their circle will always find it easier to land their next job.
Be proactive at your current workplace
If you don’t add value to your company, you won’t be recognized. “Don’t wait to be handed opportunities within your organization. Be proactive and find ways to stand out,” says Dr. Sam Sanders, University of Phoenix professor. “Taking charge of your own development may lead to increased responsibilities and ultimately, grater feelings of self-worth.”
When you put your best foot forward, you have the greatest opportunity for advancement. In theory, your hard work should pay off. And, if you find your work isn’t being recognized, it may mean your organization does not truly value your skills. This is another sign that you may want to look outside your company’s walls for your next opportunity.
Research your compensation
Do your homework. Find out how much those in your industry are making for their work. Companies often pay a range of salaries for a particular position, so you want to ensure you’re being compensated fairly. Sites like Glassdoor.com provide insider information to help you understand your market value.
If you learn you’re making significantly less than others, it may be time to move on. Most companies provide standard two to four percent salary increases per year. This pales in comparison to the large wage increases new hires experience when they make a switch. If you do look elsewhere, use the salary data you found in your next negotiation.
Understand your work environment
Before you accept your next job, be sure you fully understand what you’re signing up for. After all, who else will you spend this much time with each day – other than your spouse and family? “The internet has paved the way for workplace transparency,” said Scott Dobroski, Career Trends Analyst at Glassdoor.com. “Researching a company is like reading ratings and reviews the same way we would look up a restaurant online.”
Various sites allow you to read reviews left by employees, and responses provided by employers. You’ll quickly be able to tell whether this workplace is one you want to be a part of. But, keep things in perspective. If only one person has left a review and it happens to be negative, look on other sites for additional information.
Pursue opportunities for professional growth
Just because your company may not have the funds to send you to graduate school or to a continuing education class doesn’t mean you should sit back and wait. Additional education can often to lead to larger promotions and more compensation later.
It also helps to ensure your skills don’t become rusty and creates a safety net that will keep you employed for years to come. The last thing you want to become is outdated and irrelevant in a career you’ve worked so hard for.
Take the reins
Whether you’re self-employed or working for someone else, in order to achieve success, it’s imperative you take the reins of your own career. After all, if you don’t do it, who will?