I’ve had at least three different conversations in recent days providing career advice to colleagues. Different industries, organizations and types of roles. And each person was at a different stage of their career. Yet, there were common themes we discussed that are worth sharing:
- Being valued. Do people listen to you? Is your input taken seriously? Is your work appreciated? For most people, there are many signs each work week that show whether you are valued or not. Don’t ignore them.
- Doing meaningful work. We each define what we consider meaningful and what we are passionate about. And we all probably do some tasks that we dislike as part of our jobs. Overall, finding your passion and doing work that you consider meaningful can keep you happy and motivated to go back every day.
- Options. As you consider to stay or go, to move up or out, there is always more than one option. Make sure you are clear with yourself and stay grounded in what really matters to you as you frame and evaluate those options.
- On your terms. Take control of the discussion and shape the opportunity if there is room for negotiation on the type of work and the role. Remember that you own your own career.
- Trust. Do you trust the people you are working with or negotiating with? Are they trying to sweeten a deal that benefits only them but could leave you hanging at some point?
- Consider timing. If you need to get through another few years before you can “retire” and get benefits, ask yourself how much you can put up with and for how long. If it’s a truly negative situation that is harmful or causing you a lot of stress, think long and hard about the personal and financial tradeoffs of not waiting it out.
- Mentors and confidants. Look for more than one person. You will benefit from different experiences and perspectives. People inside and outside your industry, people inside and outside your organization.
- Volunteering. What does that have to do with this topic? Volunteering in your community and in professional organizations can be a win-win for your career. Consider what you can give back, what you can learn, and if you can open new doors. And of course, be realistic about how much time you really can devote to different organizations.
- Networking. Every person in your network probably knows five other people who could be helpful, and each of them probably know five more people who could be helpful. Work your network and be sure that when people come to you for help, you return the favor.
You might consider having someone help you think through your options and figure out what’s optimal for you. As part of my coaching services, I’ve helped an IT leader weigh options to move to another organization vs expand her role at her current organization. We focused on an honest self-assessment, identifying long term goals, and criteria for considering different paths. In just a few months working together, she had new insight and an actionable plan.