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How to Leverage Your Career Growth

What if there was a surefire method not only to advance but to maximize, your career?

You know how when you start a new job, you’re super excited? Your brain is a sponge, and you’re just trying to soak up everything about the company, position, and industry that you can. That’s the honeymoon phase, and it lasts for six to twelve months. During this period, you’re highly engaged and gaining terrific experience.

After the honeymoon phase, you continue to gain experience and stay engaged. However, after two or three years in a role, the novelty and excitement that you once felt level off. In other words, what was once new, interesting, and challenging becomes just another Wednesday at the office. Once you hit this phase, it’s time to push for either a promotion or a new opportunity with a new company.

The graph below provides a visual of how you can maximize both your experience and your engagement by picking the best time to leave one opportunity for another. To get the most out of this method, timing is critical. Two to three years in a position is ideal. Four to five years is too long.

You might be thinking that two or three years is too often to change positions. Isn’t that the kind of “job hopping” that you’ve been warned against? You’re exactly right, this is “job-hopping”. However, if your career trajectory continues to rise, and if you’re putting yourself in a position to maximize your experience and engagement, you won’t need to explain yourself to a hiring manager. You will have made yourself so valuable that they won’t question you about much of anything. “Job hopping” or not, they will want you on their team.

So, where does your career fall on this graph? Is your career trajectory trending in the right direction?

 

Top 10 Career-Limiting Moves

#1 – Coming in late

Getting caught in traffic and making it into the office a few minutes late won’t doom your career. However, falling into the habit of showing up late will get noticed. This especially applies for meetings. Be on time and be prepared or you will stand out in a negative way.

#2 – Constant complaining

Life is all about overcoming challenges. You’re not the only person facing obstacles. Do you work to the best of your ability and keep any negativity out of the office.

#3 – Too many drinks at office social functions

This one seems obvious but is often overlooked. Whether it’s a company picnic or informal happy hour keep your behavior in check. Realize that you’re surrounded by co-workers and need to project professionalism.

#4 – Taking vacation to avoid work

Vacation days or PTO are part of your compensation and you’re entitled to them. You should use them as you see fit. All of that being said, taking your days or weeks off during the busy season is going to get you some negative attention. Be aware of the ebbs and flows going on in your office. Don’t take your vacation when things are hectic and leave your co-workers having to cover for you.

#5 – Never volunteering for extra work

Teamwork is the name of the game in most offices. Oftentimes co-workers will need a hand or your team has a deadline to meet. These instances often require an extra investment of time and effort. Do you pitch in when your team needs you?

#6 – Ink

This one is likely to be controversial as tattoos are very popular with younger age groups. If you like tattoos feel free to get as many as you like. Just realize that your manager may not like them as much as you do.

#7 – Dressing like a slob

This one is common sense and quite easy to avoid. Follow the simple rule of dressing for the job you want, not the one you have. This extends into grooming habits as well. Keep your appearance sharp and neat and you’ll have no problems.

#8 – All talk, no results

Offices run on teamwork, accountability, and performance. There are few things more annoying than a co-worker who talks a big game but can’t deliver. Focus on your performance and stay humble.

#9 – Interoffice romance

Office romances can be risky. When they work it’s great. However, they often don’t work out and can create significant office drama. Proceed with extreme caution.

#10 – Bad mouthing others

Businesses run most efficiently when workplaces are places of harmony. Gossip, trash talk, and cliques can destroy workplaces. Keep your opinions about others to a minimum and be friendly to everyone.

What career-limiting moves have you witnessed?

 

Two Offers, One Choice

Searching for a new job is always stressful, but it can be even more stressful when trying to choose between multiple offers. You’re faced with making a decision between two companies, two positions, two compensation plans, and two career paths. Needless to say, it can be daunting.

Compensation should never be the lone deciding factor when choosing between competing opportunities. It’s really more about what’s best for the individual on a personal level. To pick between multiple offers, you really have to consider what is most important to you. Here are a few top things to consider when comparing offers.

Compensation

This is typically the very first thing that people ask about. We all have basic human needs and want to ensure that wherever we go that these basic needs will be met. One thing to consider is that benefits are actually a significant part of your compensation. I recall calculating this issue for myself at one point when deciding whether or not to accept a new opportunity.

My position at the time paid $12,000 more per year than the new offer, but they did not contribute to employee health plans. The new offer paid 100% of all healthcare costs, which amounted to a value of $10,000, and had significantly lower copays. The new offer also doubled the amount of PTO I’d receive per year. This leveled the playing field between the two options, as I determined total compensation was, in reality, equal once taxes and healthcare costs were factored in.

Work-Life Balance

You have your work life and you have your personal life. They rarely overlap but your job is essential to supporting your personal life. When choosing between two offers, take into consideration the workload expectations. I had a coworker that left because of poor work-life balance.

She was really into spending time with her young son and very dedicated to the triathlons she regularly competed in. She took a $45,000 pay cut to go elsewhere. The catalyst was being chastised by her boss for “only” working 40 hours a week (her coworkers were putting in close to 70 hours) even though her work was on point. Her boss told her “You give your son love, you give your races love, why don’t you give us any love?”

It was then she decided that her family and her races were more important than the money. She is much happier now that she is in a place where she can be flexible with her schedule and take time off as needed.

Growth Opportunities

We are all looking for that sense of fulfillment and progress in our lives. When we enter the workforce, we have big ideas of where we would eventually like to be. Finding a place that will help you sharpen your skills and develop new ones to help you move forward is invaluable.

Take a look at how each offer could help you along your desired path.

  • Does it make logical sense that this opportunity would help you reach your long-term goals?
  • What’s the company’s policy on promoting from within?
  • Are there potential mentors within the organization that could be valuable to your personal advancement?

One way to check is by taking a look at the company’s LinkedIn page and seeing how long employees stay with the organization and when they’ve had title changes throughout their tenure. You could also ask your interviewers where they see the company heading and what kind of new opportunities will be created as the company grows.

Summary

Comparing two job offers is a challenge in self-knowledge. What matters the most to you? Flexibility or opportunity for promotions? Low co-pays or casual Fridays? Performance bonuses or a high salary? There are too many variables to measure and track. Analyze them as best you can and go with your gut. At the end of the day, the only person who really knows what best for you is you.

 

Career Advancement Reading List

Blog Title - PP - Career Advancement Reading List

To say that “Knowledge is Power” is the height of cliché. It’s also undisputedly true. The more you know, the better off you are. Few forms of knowledge are as beneficial as a firm understanding of how to develop yourself as a person and advance your career.

With that goal in mind, we’ve compiled our list of the best career and professional development books that we’ve read:

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

What Is It About?

  • Written by the COO of Facebook, Lean In covers the obstacles, both internal and external, facing working women. Sandberg examines gender interactions in the workplace, the idea of “having it all”, and how to make the best career choices.

Who Is It For?

  • Both women and men

Most Important Lesson?

  • Increasing the number of women at the top of the business world will benefit everyone.

David & Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

What Is It About?

  • Gladwell examines the upside of our disadvantages and the downside of our advantages. He talks through dozens of historical examples of how underdogs bested powerhouses and the hidden advantages of being the little guy.

Who Is It For?

  • Anyone considering taking a leap

Most Important Lesson?

  • Don’t wait. You have all you need to get started today!

Never Eat Alone: and Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi

What Is It About?

  • Never Eat Alone could be the How to Win Friends and Influence People of our generation. It’s full of short, impactful chapters on how to connect with others and build your business or career by forging and managing relationships. Networking isn’t about collecting contact information, but sharing your expertise and providing value for others.

Who Is It For?

  • Everyone who wants to expand their network

Most Important Lesson?

  • Be bold and go after what you really want.

The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha

What Is It About?

  • Co-written by the founder of LinkedIn, The Start-up of You instructs you on how to take control of your professional future. To maximize your career, you have to know what you’re good at, what you want to do, and what the job market values. Merge all three and you’ll set yourself up for the best career possible.

Who Is It For?

  • Everyone!

Most Important Lesson?

  • You’re the boss of your career.

Smartcuts by Shane Snow

What Is It About?

  • In Smartcuts, Shane Snow dismantles the idea that climbing the corporate ladder is required to reach the top. He argues that waiting your turn and paying dues is not only the wrong way to get ahead but can actually hinder your progress. With case studies and real-life experiences, Snow makes the case for “lateral thinking”—solving problems through an indirect and creative approach, is highlighted as the way that most successful people have made it to the top.

Who Is It For?

  • Professionals who feel stuck and are open to alternative routes to success

Most Important Lesson?

  • Shifting gears and continuing to add to your skillset is very often the best way to get ahead.

Knock ‘Em Dead: The Ultimate Job Seeker’s Handbook by Martin Yate

What Is It About?

  • Martin Yate is considered the job search guru. This book and its companions are the handbooks that every job seeker needs. They provide a step-by-step, in-depth understanding of what hiring managers want, how to sell yourself, and how to win the job you want.

Who Is It For?

  • Each and every job seeker. If you have a resume, you should own this book

Most Important Lesson?

  • It’s not what you know, but who knows you that will land you your next job.

More Best Answers to The 201 Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions by Matthew J. and Nanette F. DeLuca

What Is It About?

  • While Knock ‘Em Dead covers the A-Z of the job search, More Best Answers guides you across the goal line. It’s a tactical and practical handbook for interview prep, interview strategy, interview follow-up, and compensation negotiation. It gives readers the tools to land the interview, feel more comfortable and in control during interviews, and answer tough interview questions that cause other job seekers to stumble.

Who Is It For?

  • Anyone with an interview coming up

Most Important Lesson?

  • Interviewing is a skill. It can be taught and learned. The recipe for becoming a great interviewee is one part preparation, one part observation, one part improvisation, and one part negotiation.

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

What Is It About?

  • First published in 1937, Think and Grow Rich is an oldie, but a goodie. It’s the spiritual successor to Dale Carnegie’s famous How to Win Friends and Influence People. Universally applicable business and networking advice are abundant, as Hill tells of his journey from the poor house to prosperity.

Who Is It For?

  • Everyone!

Most Important Lesson?

  • The power of positivity

What have you read that has added to your career or professional development? We’d love to hear from you!

 

7 Tips For Making Your Job Change A Breeze

For many people changing jobs can be a nightmare.

Workdays that were once filled with confidence and routine, became full of anxiety and questions. Am I the low person on the totem pole? What was my password for this CRM program I have no idea how to use? What’s that guy’s name again? How does this stupid coffee machine work?!?!?!

If you’re going to take one thing away from this post make it this: A job (or even a career!) change is nothing to be nervous about.

Use these seven tips to hit the ground running at your new job!

Act like you are still being interviewed. Don’t get too comfortable too early. You are still being evaluated. You need to continue to impress and prove yourself.

Get to know some of the team before your start date. Happy hours and company events are great for this. Spending time with soon-to-be co-workers outside of the office is less formal and you can get up to date on current projects. It’s also a great way to get some insight into the company culture.

Take notes. This one seems really obvious, but lots of people ignore it. During your onboarding, you’ll be hit with a ton of new information. Some of this will be fluff, but we advise taking notes on everything so you don’t miss the useful parts.

Volunteer for everything that you can. Community Service Committee? You need to be on it. Party Planning Committee? Yes, please. Get involved early and often. This shows that you’re in it for the long haul and increases your exposure to your co-workers, your bosses, and their bosses.

Be proactive! Don’t wait to be given an assignment or told what to do. No employer wants a drone for an employee. Stay 30 minutes late each day to work on a project that you came up with. The project may not get off the ground, but your boss will love the effort.

Be yourself. You’ve got the job already! It’s not time to slack off, but don’t act like a perfect employee robot either. Enjoy your work and have fun getting to know your co-workers.

Work your butt off!