In the opening scene of “Annie Hall”, an old film by master director Woody Allen, Mr. Allen tells a joke in which one old woman complains to another about the poor quality of the food they have served her, and the other lady agrees. but he adds that he thinks the portions are too small. Allen notes that the joke describes his outlook on life: that it is full of misery and unhappiness, but it ends very soon. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that most of us who have worked for many years feel the same about our jobs, but we live in constant fear of losing them due to a restructuring, a corporate merger, a new technology and, in these days, a recession or even depression!
Ask seasoned workers how they feel about their job and more than half will tell you how they hate their bosses, feel underappreciated, or are simply bored or stuck in a dead end. Internet-based businesses and the New Economy were supposed to change all of that until things fell apart earlier this decade. And now that? While you wait for your dream job to arrive, you need to make the most of the career you have.
Learn the difference between jobs and career opportunities. What is the difference? Probably very little when you just got out of school and need to start paying off those student loans. A “job” keeps you alive; a “race” can make you feel alive. I would be the first to admit that when you are looking for your first job and have little to no experience, almost any job in the field you choose can feel like a career opportunity. When you are starting out, it is far more important to validate yourself in the workplace than to worry about whether you are doing all you can for humanity or pushing back intellectual boundaries. Also, during the first few months of a new job, you are usually busy learning the rules of business etiquette, such as how to answer a phone correctly or how to communicate with your superiors, colleagues, and others in your office.
Consequently, time spent on virtually any job in your field is likely to be time well spent, for a while. However, if you find yourself in the wrong position, it won’t be long before your “honeymoon” ends and you lose your crush on the idea of gainful employment. Suddenly getting up in the morning is a little more difficult, the workday slows down, you are bored and it bothers you a lot to be asked to work on weekends.
And now that? The good news is, whether he’s working or not, he still has all the cards – he’s young, polite, personable, and eager to get started! Now all you need is a strategy. Don’t believe that every move you’ve made since elementary school makes a profound or irreversible statement about who you are and what it’s all about. Careers are durable and flexible, and you don’t need to accurately calculate them every step of the way to be successful. The market is somewhat forgiving with an undercurrent that snakes a bit at first, and sometimes finds some diversity to be beneficial to a full-fledged professional in these times of smaller, thinner organizations whose members have many roles to perform.
However, careers should be managed and preferably with some strategic focus that guides you toward some long-term goal. Also, meanders that can be viewed favorably when you are 25 years old can be seen as a lack of focus or commitment when you reach 35. At that point, a floating race with inertia can become much more difficult to navigate, and you will spend a lot of time justifying your past and showing your commitment to your next job.
Suffice it to say, their careers are likely to be much more varied and volatile than ever. Gone are the days of feeling confident, confident, and comfortable honing a specific skill set that you will use throughout your entire career. The career journey in the future is likely to be bumpy and risky. You will need to run faster to avoid falling further behind at work!
By taking the following steps to manage your career, you will be more satisfied and you may end up doing something you enjoy.
Step 1. Know who you are. Carefully consider your personality, aptitudes, talents, abilities, personal values, interests, and most importantly, your likes and dislikes. Few things in life will give you more pleasure than getting paid for something you love to do, so it’s worth taking the time to do it right.
Step 2. Create a strategy, don’t predict, your career. Set goals and objectives, identify the universe of possibilities, seriously consider your options, and go for it! Just remember to be flexible and open-minded; even allow yourself to dream. Few accurately predict where they will end up when their careers begin, but those who act deliberately generally get ahead. Never discount the possibilities that an uncertain future may bring and be prepared to take advantage of opportunities that may arise by chance or simply by sheer luck.
Step 3. Eagerly (but efficiently) look for opportunities. Take advantage of the full spectrum of publicly available sources at your disposal. Read, surf the net, network with contacts, and gather information and ideas. Moderate your energy and enthusiasm with judgment and common sense and seek only the most realistic and promising opportunities. There are no shortcuts to hard work and ineffective trial and error process that will sometimes be daunting. Remember: nothing risked, nothing gained.
Step 4. Sell yourself actively (if not aggressively) to employers. Start with searching on paper for resumes, cover letters, and follow-up letters; Keep up the cold phone calls, making your sales presentations, and attending networking meetings, and you’ll eventually get your share of interviews. Face the fact that your future employers won’t know why they need it until you tell them.
Step 5. Critically evaluate your opportunities. Consider all the basics: company growth, profitability, reputation, the job itself, and how it relates to your goals and expectations, and your new boss and colleagues. Be diligent in your review. Ask tough questions and be satisfied with the answers. Take the time to determine if it is an opportunity or just a temptation. You will make well-informed decisions if you moderate the facts with your instincts.
Step 6. Weigh all the offers. Most people want employers to show them the money. Money is the easiest way to measure the attractiveness of an opportunity and is the most universally accepted method of tracking your career progress. You need money to survive, but money alone will not keep you alive. Early in your career, you should select opportunities that develop skills and experience, which will make you more valuable and marketable in the long run. Take a long-term perspective when making decisions.
Step 7. Review your career options frequently. Has your work lived up to your expectations? Is it the best use of your time at this point in your career? It’s time to keep going forward? Is it difficult to admit that you have made a mistake or have outgrown your position? Sure, the truth sometimes hurts, but remember it’s the lies that leave the scars.
Like it or not, you will repeat this cycle many times during your 40-year career, but practice makes perfect. You will learn from your mistakes and remember the lessons you learn each time throughout the process. Over time, managing your career will become easier.
Some things will never change. Industries, companies, and technologies will come and go, but the nearly 7 billion people on the planet remain creatures of habit that are unlikely to give up their ways of relating to each other. The bad news is that the unpleasantness of working for a living will continue, probably forever. The good news is that employers will continue to seek out the mutual traits and talents that have served humanity well since the dawn of time: the ability to think, apply oneself to learning, the willingness to work hard, and a cooperative attitude. If you are willing to adapt and accept change, the future will be a very exciting place to be, especially considering the alternative; If not, my advice would be to get married well, enjoy early retirement, and let the rest of us get back to work.
There is no job like the right job. Some say the hardest job you’ll ever have is looking for one, but eventually everyone who wants one will find it. Finding the right job can take a lifetime, but having the wrong job can seem like forever.