I have given this a lot of thought over the last 2 weeks. It boils down to the amount of effort one puts in their given occupation. That being the case, I have acertained that a JOB is not a Career. The reason is that a job is something you do without much concern for the long-term. You get a job to buy your first car, to have extra spending money, to learn about work, or to pay the bills. Most of us either had our first Job in high school, College, or right out of College. While one can work very hard at a job and even be paid well to work a job, a career takes much more motivation and forward-thinking effort than a job.
With this said, I think now is as good a time as any for you the reader (and last time I checked my readership ranked in the 10’s ;) ) To think, “do I have a job or do I have a career”. But please don’t stop there with this introspective thought. Go deeper and ask yourself, “if I do have a career, do I treat it like a career or like a job?”
I talk a lot about this to my clients. From their current interviewing cycle, my clients constantly state that they see candidates for their positions that are “order takers”, “a steady Eddie”, or “A guy (or woman) who just hasn’t done anything that sets themselves apart from the pack”…..
During my trip over the weekend I had a couple of moments of sobriety during which my mind kept coming back to these discussions with my clients and how I could help my friends in the job community to get over this hurdle.
Being that I staff for the top 5% of the financial world, I will direct my comments and examples to these roles (however my thoughts and strategy can be used by for any forward thinking person regardless of field). My candidate pool consists of pretty much any information technology resource (as well as Business Analysts & Project Managers) that contributes to the process of trading for financial shops on Wall St.
Let me first present more questions you the reader should ask yourself:
- Why am I in my current position?
- How does my current position contribute to my Career-Path growth?
- What is my next step from this position career-wise?
- What am I doing today to improve my chances of migrating to my next Career-Path goal?
- What is my current Career-Path end goal?
From reading these questions you might think I am presenting parochial questions. But take time to let them simmer in the background of your thoughts. . . . . and revisit them over the weekend. This can be one of those aspects of your life you don’t want to think about, but it is a necessary evil.
Why are you in your current position? If it isn’t a destination on your Career-Path, but circumstances have directed you here, how do you better align yourself to a position back on the path? What tasks and initiatives in your current place of work can you proactively take on to better align your skill set with your desired position (either within your firm, or in another). If there is no chance of taking on said actions, it is best to move on to another firm and possibly taking a step back in your career so that you can re-align yourself. How does that saying go… ”One step back, two steps forward”
What is my next step from this position career-wise? Most of us only think about our next move career-wise once we have “Seen the writing on the wall about our longevity at a position”. But is that the right time to plan? (Does a surgeon make the first incision then refer to the next step in a text about surgery? Or does the surgeon plan the whole procedure out prior to surgery and even put thought into what could go wrong and possible workarounds for this occurence?) This is how you should view your career and its destinations to your desired Career-Goal. When a recruiter, friend, colleague, or former boss reaches out to you about a new position, do you consider the opportunity for;
- More money,
- Shorter commute,
- Better work/life balance
- A Leadership role
- More Senior Level visibility
- Adding much needed skillsets
- Touching more. (be it technologies, interacting with diferrent business’s, etc)
The first 3 options are to be considered if you have and want to keep a JOB. The later 4 options are to be considered if you want to progress your career.
Finally, what is your Career-Goal? Do you want to lead a huge organization, drive corporate direction, be “Da Man” so to speak? Do you want to be a high priced consultant who can dictate the amount of time you work as well as the type of projects one works on? Do you want to aquire exprience until it is time to start your own firm. The Goal can change along the way, but one must have benchmarks along the way to measure progress as well as to dictate if more drive is needed to get to your desired target. During this journey through your career, you will see more opportunities. So it is perfectly acceptable to change course and target to a new Career-Goal.
Lastly, I would like to impart an Ancient Truth that has led many a Professional to their Career Promise land.
‘If you enjoy what you do, you will never work another day in your life’ - Confucius
Remember we work to live, not live to work. Make sure that your Career-Path is one that is enjoyable.
Thank you for your Time and Efforts,
Senior Vice President, Financial Technical Division