Alejandro Escamilla via Unsplash
Your career is as much about your life outside of work as it is about what you do from 8 to 5. Money, health, relationships…it all impacts how effectively you manage your career. Whether you’re trying to find your life’s passion or simply want to land a better gig, it’s time to get more than just your resume in order.
First, take a look at your finances. If your dream job means taking a salary cut or paying more for medical benefits, will you be able to make it work? Committing to living within your means and building up a savings cushion is critical. Career decisions shouldn’t be made from a position of scarcity, so now’s the time to start building good financial habits.
Speaking of habits, how are your diet and exercise? Are you getting enough sleep? A new job will make it tough to focus on self-care. Building a healthy routine now – prepping weeknight meals on Sunday, hitting the gym regularly – will make it easier to stay on track when work gets crazy. And don’t forget about relationships. Make connecting with the important people in your life a regularly scheduled event.
Since you’re career-minded, I’m sure you’ve already spent some time polishing your resume. But have you given your online presence a once-over recently? The bulk of all your online content should reflect your professional experience and interests. Take the time to clean up anything unflattering and make sure you’re putting your best digital foot forward. (This is a good post on crafting a professional digital identity.)
And finally, let’s talk about time. You already feel like you don’t have enough and here I am telling you to add more to your to-do list? I know it seems daunting but I’m willing to bet you have more time than you think. I challenge you to keep a time log for a week and see what you learn. (And I admit that I hate tracking my time too, but it’s worth it. Start here.)
How about you? What would you add to this list?
We all want to find our dream job. The job that makes us feel energized and excited. The job that helps us live our best life – financially, physically and intellectually. But how do we get that job? By following our passion? Maybe. By being a master networker? That helps. But I believe it comes down to something much more fundamental: having options.
Having options means you can explore different positions and different industries. You can apply your skills in new and creative ways until you find the job that truly fits. When you have options, you have the freedom to control your career.
So, how do you make sure you have options? By creating equity. And by equity, I mean having more career assets than career liabilities. Here’s what it looks like:
Job skills are an asset. When you have more skills than you need to meet the requirements of your current job you have equity. You can then take those excess skills and apply them to new challenges. And then to a new position. Then a new career. As your job equity grows, so do your options.
- Update your resume frequently. Identify areas where you are weak, then focus your attention on building those skills.
- Volunteer for projects that build new skills, even if it means extra work.
- Utilize educational opportunities, via in-house training or through your company’s educational reimbursement program.
- Take on team leadership. Skills in managing people are highly marketable and can be applied across disciplines.
Money is an asset. When you have more money than you need to meet your basic needs you have equity. By living within (or well below) your means, you build a financial cushion that keeps you from being trapped in your current situation. You have the freedom to take a pay cut in order to explore a new field. Or to relocate for that once-in-a-lifetime position. As your financial equity grows, so do your options.
- Create a realistic budget and stick to it.
- Keep at least 6 months living expenses in your savings account.
- Avoid consumer debt. Fight the temptation to use your credit card for things you don’t need.
- Explore the myriad of budgeting and financial planning resources available online.
How about you? How have you created equity in your career?
(Photo by Brenda Clarke via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)