When it comes time to review performance with my staff and develop goals for the following year, I always try to coach them on a few things. First and foremost, I ask them “how do you want to use this job?” Many of my staff used to look at me like I had three heads, but slowly as understanding has come to them they have become used to this query and many have even thanked me for it. The fact is, you should always “use” your job. Your job should be a means of building up the career you want to have. Sometimes, that is not going to be possible in the current company you work for, but it makes it no less important to figure out how you can “use” the job as a stepping stone to another level.
I find this particularly useful when looking at a new job. It may not be the ideal place or you may only plan to try out this particular industry or position for a few years. However, you should already be thinking about how you are going to use this job to enhance your career. What stepping stones will it provide to get you to the place you really want to get to, or the position you ultimately want to obtain? These are the questions you should be asking yourself when considering a new job offer on the table.
There are a few ways in which to use a job. First, you can use it for title. The title may be Vice President of Twiddling Your Thumbs, but the fact is, you are a Vice President. Titles are very important in establishing an expectation level for skill sets, money, and responsibility. If you can easily obtain a title in a company today, for example, through a new job offer, this can help you when applying for that just out of reach position at your dream company that requires you to have some experience at management level. A title can also open the door to allowing you to switch industries. Certain titles like Director, Senior Account Executive, Vice President and other higher level titles are considered more easily transferable to different sectors of the business as management skills are management skills no matter where you go.
Another item that you can use a job for is experience. This is truly the key to using your job. If the position you are considering is going to give you more experience doing something you have never done before, seriously consider that job. Taking a position where you already know it backwards and forwards is great, but it won’t help you grow or increase your skill set. Having a broad range of skill sets is extremely valuable when going for that dream job you always wanted. They help you convince others of your ability to take on new things, as well as manage a wide range of projects.
When in the new position, be sure you are taking on a few new challenges that will widen your horizons, even if they may not be entirely within your job description. Volunteering for these projects will help you increase your knowledge base, and “use” your job to teach you new things. You should always have the end game in mind….you can take these new skills and build out an even stronger base of experience from which to sell yourself. You can even transfer industries, for example, if you have gained some small knowledge in that area through a previous job. Again, when accepting a new job, try to find positions that will enhance your skills and build new ones, not just reinforce them.
Lastly, you can use a new job offer to build up your salary requirements. If the company hasn’t asked for verification of your previous salaries, go for the gusto. Obtaining a job where you are slightly overpaid is not a bad thing. You can hold your own for a few years and then take that lovely salary base and go ask for even more money at your dream job. Many people have used this technique to double their salary requirements in less than five to eight years. If you can ask for it with confidence and have the skills to sell yourself, the world will fill your pocket with gold.
Keep in mind, the opposite is also true. If you take a pay cut at one particular job, you have just lowered your base salary requirement for your career. That is why pay cuts should be avoided at all costs as they usually do not work to your advantage. It will cause you to have to fight that much harder to increase your salary over time. Be sure you are considering the possibilities of taking a job with a significant salary increase, even for a small amount of time, to significantly increase your base salary minimum. Make sure to avoid any situations where you will have to lose that stronghold by taking a pay cut. It is often better to keep looking, than accept less.
Building your career can sometimes seem like a daunting task, but every job offer presents opportunities in which to find a new level of accomplishment. Analyze your job offers for ways in which this position will enhance your current capabilities, gain new titles or responsibilities, and increase your pay. Take a look down the road ten, fifteen or twenty years and determine if this position will open new doorways, or open the same doorways. If you are always getting jobs in the same industry with the same level of responsibility and the same skills sets, you will soon come to find there are no more doors to open.
by Sasha DeMarino