Recently I wrote a post about Gracia Martore’s journey to becoming a CEO. If you read the post you will remember me saying how disappointed I was with her story. Mostly I was annoyed with the fact that Martore said she got to where she was by just keeping her head down and not focusing on her future. What kind of advice is that? And, might I point out that it took her 26 years to get to where she currently is.
Martore aside, today I read a fabulous article by Kathy Caprino entitled The Worst Career Blunder You Can Make. According to Caprino, the worst career blunder you can make is “keeping your head buried in the sand, refusing to look up and see what’s barreling down the pike towards you, and sticking fast and furiously to the status quo.” If you couldn’t guess, Caprino literally took the words right out of my mouth.
In this article Caprino gives some great advice. The best piece of advice Caprino gives is to remind all professionals that nothing in their career is secure, except for yourself of course (hopefully). By this Caprino means that just because you are doing well at your job doesn’t mean that your job will always be there. Who knows, your company could fold under economic pressure, decide that they are eliminating your position, or hire someone with more (or less) experience. Because your job is not secure, a professional cannot simply keep their head down and focus on the status quo. Where would that leave you when your company decides the don’t need you anymore?
This leads me to Caprino’s second point, that a professional needs to continue growing and expanding upon their knowledge. Think about it this way, there is a reason why certain professionals are required to received continuing education each year – it is so they can stay above the curve and be aware of all of the changes being made in their particular field. Because your field is likely constantly changing, it is important to continue to expand upon your knowledge and skill set. No one wants an employee that stays stagnant and has no motivation to learn. So get out there and attend as many leadership development seminars or field specific seminars you can go to.
Caprino also advises professionals that they should understand exactly what their employer wants from them, and they should always remember to keep up their professional relationships. I agree 100% on both of those pieces of advice, so I am not going to elaborate on them.
Caprino’s last piece of advice is to suggest that if you are unhappy, make a change. My article from yesterday regarding Gen Yers and their constant job hoping should make you understand that I am not in favor of leaving a job without trying to either salvage that particular job or without having a backup plan. However, I do agree that if you are not happy you should make a change. This change could be a complete career change, i.e. from a teacher to a lawyer. This change could be switching your specialty in a particular field. This change could be with a different company that has some of the same goals and morals that you do. There are many changes that one can make in their career and I am fully supportive of those changes (heck I recently made a change myself). I know from experience that working at a job that you hate is no fun at all. If you are thinking of making a career change, Caprino provides some great advice. She states, “Address your challenges, fears, insecurities, and problems before you get a new job or launch a new career. Otherwise, the problems will follow you in the next chapter of life and work. Do what you must to stay afloat, while planting seeds for your future career visions. Don’t wait.” If you are hanging on to your current job until you find a new job (which I highly suggest doing), reach out to those people in the field that you desire to be a part of. Ask them about their daily responsibilities and what they like and dislike about their field. Ask them if you can shadow them for a day. Ask them anything you want, but most importantly let them know that you are interested.
Remember, it’s not what you know, but who you know. The worst thing anyone can do is stay in a career they are unhappy with, but the stupidest thing anyone can do is leave their job before they have a backup plan.
Are you thinking about changing careers? What did you do to make the change?