You’re tired of the race. Tired of working tirelessly in shifting sands of corporate America as an exempt FTE. But you do it with the hope of the BIG payday. You’ve got options in the company, and it seems that if everyone just works a little harder, the pay-off will come.
But what if it doesn’t? What if you’ve burrowed down into your cube, cranked out pounds of code/ marketing collateral/ analytical models/ CRM entries, and the company still burns through the remaining cash before IPO or acquisition? Uh – now what?
Here’s something I’ve heard myself saying quite a bit lately, particularly to folks that are with companies struggling to define direction, or struggling to execute on change initiatives: “Whatever other investments you make right now, you need to be thinking about how you ensure more options when you leave than when you came here.”
Whatever else you get out a day’s work – compensation, satisfaction with a job well done, participation in a like-minded community – you need to ensure that you are also increasing your professional options.
Here are a few simple ways to ensure that, should the time come, you have more alternatives when you hit the market place.
- Get to know those you work with at your current company. Everyone goes somewhere, and just because you aren’t currently in marketing/ finance/ sales doesn’t mean that your next big break won’t come from one of the guys you impressed while you’ve been working here. Since the 21st truism will be “you won’t retire from here,” everyone will eventually move on, and we all remember the talented co-workers we’ve relied on in the past.
- Participate in professional organizations in your area of expertise. If past co-workers can create current and future cross-functional opportunities, developing relationships with professional peers can increase your likelihood of getting an interview with their companies if and when the day should come. As important as what you know, who you know swings a big stick.
- Get certified where it counts. While there are a thousand and one professional organizations offering certifications, there are a much smaller handful that are truly meaningful within the various realms of expertise. While certifications are less critical when you know the autonomous decision maker, they also make it much easier for all members of a hiring team to say “yes” to getting you engaged. Soliciting recommendations on certifications from your present managment team or mentor also sends a clear message that you have bigger plans for yourself than you are realizing today.
So while not revolutionary, well worth considering where you stand as we enter the new year. Just as businesses create a balance sheet of assets, now is a good time to inventory your assets and options as well. Make this the year that start turning down unsolicited offers.