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Five Common Mistakes People Make When Seeking Their Next Career Move — And What To Do Instead

Posted by | September 4, 2017 | Career, Career Planning Process

Via Forbes : Five Common Mistakes People Make When Seeking Their Next Career Move — And What To Do Instead

Maybe it’s because the academic year is kicking off (a new beginning!), or the calendar year is winding down (it’s nearly the end!), but I’m hearing from a lot of professionals antsy for their next career move. When people say they want to move on but they haven’t already done so, then there’s clearly something holding them back. Below are five common mistakes people make when trying to find their next career move and suggestions for what to do instead:

Mistake 1: you wait for the change, instead of designing it yourself

One experienced professional contacted me after being given more responsibility, which could have been seen as a positive change, but impacted her negatively since the additional work came without additional compensation. This was a wake-up call to look around but she had no idea where to start and was now busier than ever so had even less time for career planning.

Don’t be so busy responding to everything around you that you end up with a career by default. At least this professional was greeted with more work (albeit too much of it!). Other people come to understand the value of proactive career planning when they’re laid off or their nice boss leaves or they discover how far under market they are being paid.

If you only respond after a change happens, then you miss the opportunity to design your ideal next career move. Instead, set regular reminders in your calendar for proactive career management. Quarterly, set a reminder to update your resume, online profile and achievement portfolio. Monthly, set a reminder to reach out to your broader network, beyond who you might connect with more regularly. Weekly, set a reminder to update your social media or return recruiter phone calls. These reminders can be scheduled into your electronic calendar, so you set it once and have an accountability partner year-round.

Mistake 2: you wait for a better time, instead of making the time right

Another professional contacted me intending to make a move but then postponed some of the homework I suggested because of a work deadline, then postponed a session because of work travel, and then asked for a pause in the coaching plan because of a particularly busy time at work. Keep in mind that all her running around was for a job she said she didn’t want any longer!

If you wait for a better time to start working on your next career move, that time will never come. You have to make the time. You have to ruthlessly cut things out of your schedule till you free up enough hours to get some traction on your job search or your business venture or just some free time if you need to experiment to find your next career move.

Aim for one block of several hours one to two days per week. Then add some dedicated time during your work day because some things have to be done during normal work hours. If you start small and build from there, you give yourself a chance to get used to your new schedule.

Mistake 3: you overlook opportunities right in front of you, instead of always keeping an open mind

As both a recruiter and a career coach, I know that recruiter phone calls often go unanswered. Busy professionals will insist they don’t have the time to return the call. In five to ten minutes with a recruiter, you can hear about the market, get a sense of how competitive you are, and possibly get a lead into an opportunity you might like. How can you not make the time?

I’ve heard that many calls are actually frogs, not princes, because the opportunity at hand isn’t a fit. But if you are getting called for the wrong thing, then you should be using these calls to pinpoint why this is happening. Is someone from your past referring you at too junior a level? If so, contact that person, thank them profusely for thinking of you (getting referred by someone is a compliment!), and inform them about what you’re currently doing and interested in. If you’re lucky enough to have someone so in your corner that they refer you, you want to cultivate that relationship.

If it’s not a specific person who is positioning you as too junior (or the wrong industry or whatever else is wrong about the opportunities you’re hearing about) then it might be you — in your online profile or in an old resume you have languishing in a career site somewhere — that is incorrectly positioning yourself. Take the time to return phone calls and figure out how you’re perceived in the market!

Mistake 4: you only look at opportunities that are right in front of you, instead of taking a step back or a broader perspective to design exactly what you want

On the flip side is the person who jumps at whatever opportunity s/he gets called about, without objectively thinking about whether this next career move makes sense. If you’re unhappy where you are, the temptation is great to assume that any other opportunity is better, but not every career move is a good move.

Setting regular reminders for career planning and career management activities (see point 1) is a good antidote to overly hasty decision-making. In addition, if you do hear of an opportunity, even if it sounds amazing or it’s for a company you’ve always been interested in, research two or more competitors to that company. At a minimum, you’ll get market information that will make you more credible to the initial company. Even better, you might uncover additional leads for your next career move, which gives you leverage, if you can stay in play with multiple companies at a time.

Mistake 5: you fixate on only one option, instead of pursuing multiple leads

Pursuing multiple leads is critical to thoughtful career planning. If you fixate on only one option and that option doesn’t work out, you have to stop and start your search all over again. Sometimes leads don’t pan out, and it has nothing to do with you – budget for the role gets pulled, someone internal takes the spot, the position description is tweaked but just enough so you’re no longer right for it.

In addition, multiple leads give you leverage in the interview and offer negotiation process. You’ll be more confident about asking for what you want and deserve, when all your hopes aren’t pinned to any one company. You’ll be more attractive to companies because people want what other people want, and companies hate losing out to a competitor.

Finally, pursuing multiple leads is a form of experimentation which you should be doing regularly throughout your career. You can’t know everything about a company or a position until you dig deeper – take that exploratory meeting, return for that callback interview, listen to the details of an offer before making assumptions about what a company will do or not. Don’t be so quick to shut down discussions!

As we kick off another school year and wind down another calendar year, it’s a natural inflection point to considering your next career move. Take this opportunity to be proactive and thoughtful about what comes next. If you find yourself making one of the five mistakes above, use this post to stop yourself and try one of the other suggestions. If you’ve successfully made a move, what has worked for you?

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