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VOL. 44 | NO. 49 | Friday, December 4, 2020

There is no right time to shift your career to neutral

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A reader recently asked at what point in a career should one have reached ideal potential. In other words, when should one stop moving up and seeking more money and a better title?

When do you run the risk of messing things up? When should you should be happy with your current situation?

I wish this scenario were an option. Perhaps it was many years ago when employees stayed at the same company for years. They retired there and got a gold watch. Unfortunately, those days are over.

Assuming you’ll stay in one position for the remainder of your career is risky. Companies go out of business. And, even if they don’t, aren’t required to keep you on the payroll.

Our current environment makes you the CEO of your own career. You are the only one in the driver’s seat. This has never been clearer than during the pandemic. Companies are laying off employees and going out of business every single day.

You don’t have to go up the ladder, but it’s not recommended to get off the ladder completely. You must stay in the game or risk becoming obsolete.

At a bare minimum, you should be maintaining (and growing) your skillset. You can do this by volunteering for new projects at work. You can take a continuing education course online. You can find a mentor. There are many ways to grow yourself and your resume.

One thing you might consider is a lateral move. You could move to another department within your company. Or, you could move to a similar role in another company.

Over time, salaries increase significantly. But you’d be surprised to learn where they grow. Very often, companies save the big salary bumps for external hires.

If you are happy to continue at your current company, they will be happy to increase your pay 3% each year. But, if you are open to joining another company, your pay might increase by 10, 20 or 30% in one move.

Sadly, companies just don’t incentivize their employees to stick around anymore. And very often, they aren’t investing resources into the skillsets of their existing employees.

If you’re finding this to be the case, pay attention. Ignoring these signs will leave you at risk if anything goes wrong and you need to find another job.

This all sounds quite negative, I know. But this is the reality in which we’re living.

Our workplaces aren’t as stable as they once were. You have to create your own stability.

Think of your career like an investment. You want to diversify. You want to minimize your risk and maximize your return. You wouldn’t let your money sit in an account for years without ever looking at it. Why would you do that with your career?

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

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