It can be easy enough to coast along at a job for a few months—or even a few years. But the damage that coasting can do to your career might take a long time to repair. Here are the super-easy steps to keeping your eye on the ball, instead. Read on…
Today’s question is from Anna E., who asks, “My best friend is in a major career rut—she’s been coasting along at her job for a couple of years and now her options (and her desire to do her job) are severely limited. How can I prevent this from happening to me?”
One of the first things you have to learn about your career is that no one else is going to make it a priority but you. And I don’t mean this in a pessimistic way, but only in a realistic way. I don’t care how great your supervisor is or how amazing of a company you work for, the only person who will make you career #1 on their list is you.
And, of course, this means that if you’re not keeping your eye on the ball when it comes to your career…then no one is.
But the good news is that “monitoring your career” doesn’t have to be time-consuming, and it doesn’t have to be difficult.
First, there’s one automated step that I strongly suggest you start with. Head on over to Indeed.com and set yourself up a daily job alert. Set one up for “copywriter” in your town, and then one for “copywriter” in your state.
Then, of course, give these a quick look when they come in each day. Even if you’re not actively looking for work, it will never, ever hurt to know what’s out there—and you certainly don’t want to miss it if your dream job opens up.
The rest of your career monitoring can happen on a six-month basis. So, guess what? Go through these questions now, and then set yourself up calendar reminders for six months from now, 12 months from now, 18 months from now, and 24 months from now. (To start.)
At each of these six-month catch-ups, set yourself up somewhere you won’t be disturbed for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Grab a pen and paper or open up a new doc on your computer and ask yourself these questions:
Am I still learning? Do you feel like you’re regularly learning new things in your job? Or, do you feel like you’re regularly challenging and improving your current skills? When you’re not learning anymore, it’s a sign you might want to start looking around.
What do I want to learn? What skills do you want to learn? Or what do you want to improve on? Don’t just think in terms of actual writing, either; are there any professional or interpersonal skills you want to learn? What would make you a more successful worker and a more impressive job candidate?
What does my portfolio need? One of the best ways to ensure that you’re marketable is by having a well-rounded portfolio: print work, interactive work, agency work, in-house work, big clients, small clients, etc. Look at your portfolio carefully: Where could it use a little fleshing out?
What’s my attitude like at work? If you find yourself getting snippy with people or getting riled up about things you might have previously let roll off your back, you might be heading for burnout. One of the clearest ways to know you’re ready for a change is if you find that your attitude has changed, or that you have trouble holding your tongue when you know you should.
You already know my “every three years” guideline, but these questions can help you evaluate whether you need to make a change sooner and what kind of a direction that change should take.
It’s when you forget to keep an eye on your career and you let too much time pass without evaluating what you’re doing and how it affects your prospects that you’re likely to get into trouble. You never want to end up stuck in a job or desperate for a change. Use these tools to keep your eye on the ball and you won’t.
Your turn! Have you ever coasted in your career? How have you gotten yourself focused again? Let us know in the comments below!