By Angela Copeland
I recently received a question from a reader. The reader asked at what point in your career you will have reached your ideal potential. In other words, when should you stop moving up and seeking more money and a better title? When do you run the risk of messing things up? When should you be happy with your current situation?
I wish this scenario were an option. Perhaps many years ago, it was. 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 are no longer guaranteed to be in business. And, even if they stay in business, they aren’t required to keep you on the payroll.
Whether or not you’re self-employed, 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.
Although you don’t have to go up the ladder, 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 may consider is a lateral move. Perhaps you move to another department within your company. Or you might 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 three percent each year. But, if you are open to joining another company, your pay may increase by ten, twenty, or thirty percent 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’ve 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 we’re living in today. Our workplaces aren’t as stable as they once were. You must 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.