It’s been an eventful couple of weeks for me. I recently found out at work that my position at work was more or less being “repurposed” (for lack of better term). I was still going to have the same job, but with a very different focus, and utilizing a very different skill set and knowledge.
About the same time, a recruiter reached out to me through LinkedIn to ask me to consider a new opportunity. And I did. Several in fact. Over the past several weeks I’ve had multiple interviews, with multiple companies, with multiple job offers.
After much prayer and counsel, a few sleepless nights, and a bit of soul searching, I accepted a new job opportunity. This past Friday was the last day I worked for what I have often referred to on this podcast as the “Big Bad Bank.”
The past 10 years have been an amazing and transformative time for me. It’s been one of the greatest blessings God has ever given me. I’ve been stretched in ways I never dreamed, and was given a lot of opportunities to learn new things, to excel, and do hard and even deeply rewarding work. And along the way I have been blessed to work with some truly amazing and talented people over the years. While not everything was always sunshine and lollipops, I will always look back at my time with the “Big Bad Bank” with fondness. The job literally changed my life.
But now I turn my attention to the new opportunity that awaits me as an underwriter for a smaller mortgage company, but one that is rapidly growing. I start there this week. I am excited about the opportunity that it represents in my life. And in today’s podcast, I simply want to provide some reflection on navigating your career. Hopefully this will better help you shape yours.
1. Always Look For Another Job
When is the best day to start to look for your next job?
The first day on your new one. Whenever I take a job, I always setup a new job search, and keep a lookout for my next opportunity. I’m always looking to grow.
And even though I always plan to be in a new position for several years, by keeping my eye for what’s next, I can determine what direction the winds are blowing, and seek to use my current job as an opportunity to gain the skills necessary to grow my way into the next position.
2. Have A Servant’s Heart
I’ve never had a job where I didn’t seek to constantly take on new responsibilities and opportunities within my current position. I try to come to every job with a servant’s heart. My job isn’t just about me and collecting a paycheck and trying to get what I can out of a position.
I’ve always looked at myself as the guy that says “yes” to just about anything he’s asked to do, and I always discuss with management ways I can do more. I want to do more than what the default job description says.
Be careful with this though, some employers will seize this opportunity as an opportunity to give you the responsibilities of another job without actually paying you more. But, more often than not, such will be short lived, as you will usually be able to take those additional skills and use it to obtain another position that pays better.
Make yourself so valuable that if your current employer isn’t willing to pay you more or give you a promotion, someone else in the marketplace will see your value and pay you accordingly.
Remember, whatever isn’t growing withers and dies, so, always seek out new responsibilities within your current job. Think bigger than your job description.
3. Door Knocking
In my career, there are time’s I’ve had to literally pound the pavement and knock on every door in order to find my next opportunity. One time I spent a weekend making custom resumes for over 100 different jobs.
Sometimes you will have to pound on every door to find the next opportunity. But not always. Sometimes, and such situations are rare, but you’ll have people pounding on your door seeking you out. Always be sensitive to what environment you are in, and always keep your resume and LinkedIn profile polished and up to date. For you never know when it will be necessary to knock on doors, or when someone is about to knock on yours.
4. Don’t Just Chase Money
Money is important when it comes to a job. It’s perhaps the number one reason we get up every day and go to work. We all have bills to pay, and work is the means by which we do such.
But if you can afford to do so, don’t make your career about simply chasing after the top dollar. The Bible is full of warnings about chasing after wealth, and selling your soul for some mammon. Wealth is a fickle thing, here one moment and gone the next. And chasing after money may require you make some compromises that harm your life, your relationships, and your health. Don’t jeopardize those things. Your life has more value than what a dollar represents.
Make sure whatever job you take, that you consider the nature of the work, it’s impact on your life, the type of company you will work for, and the culture at that corporation. Will this job make you into a better person, or will it just fill your bank account? Before taking a job, talk it over with your spouse, your parents, and whoever else is important in your life. If they don’t support your career decision, you should probably consider other opportunities elsewhere.
5. Building A Reputation
One factor that weighed on me heavily as I considered changing jobs is the impact that this would have on my reputation.
Your name is worth more than silver and gold according to the book of Proverbs. And if you’ve been in a company or industry for any length of time, you’ve liked developed a reputation. At the “Big Bad Bank” I worked for, I had certainly developed a reputation. I was spoken of very highly by many.
In changing companies, I’m going to be something of a “Johnny-Come-Lately.” I will have to likely spend a couple years rebuilding my reputation with this new company. Gaining folks trust, becoming a go-to guy, and being invited to participate in larger projects takes time. So, before you jump ship, be conscious of what you are losing by doing so, and what you will need to do to make a splash at your next job.
6. Avoid Knee Jerk Reactions— And Press On
Sometimes a job can really stink. I’ve had some great jobs, and not so great one’s. I’ve had jobs that I went to every single day that I really didn’t care for and felt like I was suffocating. If such is you, it may be necessary to find another line of work in the future.
But I would encourage you, before jumping ship, press on through whatever adversity you are facing at work. Sometimes the best lessons in life and the greatest opportunities for growth are found in deeply painful moments. Moments that can not only define your life, but also your career.
So if you are working somewhere that you really don’t like working, give it time. Don’t simply job hop from one job to the next, and looking for greener pastures. Avoid knee jerk reactions, and focus on persevering. Don’t run from a job, instead, always put yourself in a position to run towards something else. Make pursuing opportunity, not escaping, your constant aim.
7. Think Long Term
Sometimes we have to take a job simply because we need to take a job. Our opportunities are not always the best. But with that said, whenever possible, don’t just look at having a “job.” Instead, focus on having a “career.”
Before pursuing a new job, think seriously about what you are leaving behind, and what opportunities exist elsewhere. Don’t just think about your next job, think about the job after your next job. Will the new job lead to new opportunities to grow? Have you hit the ceiling at where you are at?
And even if you aren’t overly ambitious and feel like you could do your next job for the rest of your life, sometimes that won’t always be something you can control. Layoffs happen. People get fired. Family issues may require you to make some pivots in your career. And while sometimes we just want a paycheck, we always need to take a step back so we can see the bigger picture. We need to be able to ask, what’s next after this?
8. You Job Is Part Of Who You Are
I think the subject of “identity” is very important with where you work. Like it or not, our jobs are simply a part of who we are. Some jobs, like a doctor, minister, teacher, or lawyer, might carry with them a certain “image” of how you see yourself and how others see you, and the responsibilities associated with those lines of work may impact how you behave in public and private.
And who you work for may impact how people ultimately perceive you. For example, the “Big Bad Bank” I worked for had gone through a terrible public scandal that made not only the bank I worked for look really bad, but it also put me in an “awkward” situation whenever I introduced myself to people.
That wasn’t always the case though. Before the scandal, when I said I worked for the bank, people would always look at me with a very positive impression. “Oh wow!” But after the scandal, those oh wow’s became “Oh… umm.” Eventually I got to the point when introducing myself I just said what I did for a living, and not necessarily who I worked for, so as to avoid such moments.
At the end of the day, whoever you work for, you will need to be comfortable living in that skin. How other people perceive you as a result of what you do and where you work will ultimately impact how you think about yourself. Sometimes this is a good thing, other times it can be bad. So before choosing a job or career, think about how that line of work will shape your sense of self.