After 22 years in the recruiting business, interviewing thousands of people, and reading tens of thousands of resumes, there are some clear common denominators for those who have exceeded in their career and those who have fallen short. Regardless of industry, and across every market there are a number of sure fire “do’s” and “don’ts” to optimize your opportunities and overall marketability. Let’s start with the SEVEN DON’TS.
1. Do not EVER take a job without forecasting the impact on your career in getting your next job with another company. Good, bad, or indifferent, the odds are you will find yourself in this position. Think about it before it happens; it starts with job 1 through retirement.
2. Do not quit performing well in your job before you actually leave it. The best thing you can do to maximize your opportunities internally and external is to perform well from start to finish in every role with a high degree of vigor.
3. Do not leave your current role before you have another one secured, or enough savings to run on for a very long time (1 year), which will allow you to be patient for the right next opportunity. Having to take an interim position in a less-than-desirable role to pay bills is often the consequence that can have a lasting, limiting impact. How will you explain the gap as to why you would put yourself/your family in that position?
4. Do not burn bridges. Strong past performance supported by strong credible references is the blood that keeps your career alive and well. Your professional network should be maintained, nurtured and built upon. It’s the mortar in the foundation that your future depends on.
5. Do not panic when things get tough, when pressure mounts and challenge increases heavily, when there is a change in leadership, or when you have a bad month/quarter/year (especially in year 1 or 2). Your emotional maturity/intelligence will help you endure adversity and solve problems; being part of the solutions to these type of typical challenges in any business will serve you much better over time. Too many job changes will not.
6. Do not bury your head in the sand unless you’re ready to be buried. Don’t be the last one to leave the party just because you like the dip. Staying in a single job and or company can do just as much to minimize your growth and career as anything else. More than 3 to 5 years in any one role without increasing responsibilities or results causes others to place limits on what they believe you are capable or willing to do unless you are forced to.
7. Do not expect someone else or any organization to take responsibility for the health of your career. Be fully accountable and attentive to everything that you do, to what is going on around you, and in the market.