By Perminus Wainaina
Are you in control of your career?
You might be in a great job where you have job stability, you earn a good salary, and you have everything needed to grow and succeed in your career.
However, there are costly mistakes that you could be making without knowing. These mistakes can greatly cost your career and result in stagnation, losing your job, and missing out on future career opportunities.
A good example is Stella (not her real name). Stella was working at a mid-sized technology company and was on her way to become a manager in the company. However, at the beginning of the year, she came across a position being advertised by one of the major betting companies in the region.
The position was paying the same as her current job, but Stella was fascinated by working for a large company. She made the move, but unfortunately, barely a year into the job, the betting company has let go of all its employees –yes, including Stella.
While Stella couldn’t have possibly known the company would close down, she has now been forced back to searching for a job.
While looking for a job, you’re advised what to do, but the advice seems to stop once you get the job.
What mistakes can dearly cost your career, and how can you avoid them?
1. Taking a job just for the money
While money is a key factor in choosing what job to take, it should not be the deciding factor.
A HR manager recently reached out for advice. She enjoys her job, and it gives her time with her young family. She’s gotten a job offer that will double her current salary. However, she will have to relocate and disrupt her family or leave them behind until she’s stable in the new job
While the job offers more salary, it could interrupt her life, career, and the wellbeing of her family.
Before you take a job based on the money, consider other key factors such as;
- Future career plan – does the job you’re taking align with your career goals? If you take the job, will it lead you to where you’d like to be in the next five or ten years?
- Job satisfaction – yes, the job is paying more, but is it something you’ll look forward to? Do you look forward to the job when you wake up? Does the job challenge you to become better? Does it support your ambitions?For instance, if I offered you a million shillings for you to operate a mkokoteni, would you take it? Your answer is likely a big yes! However, you would not wake up excited to pull the mkokoteni the whole day. In the same way, don’t go for a job that you have to be pushed, go for the one that excites you and you’re always looking forward to the next day.
- Growth opportunities – if you take the job, will you be able to grow and advance your career? Will you move up to the next level? Choose a career that will offer growth opportunities. You can measure growth in various aspects including remuneration, responsibilities and promotions.
2. Being in a career comfort zone
There has been news of companies such as EABL, EAPCC, Betin, and Sportpesa either reducing the number of employees or declaring some positions redundant.
When the HR is deciding whom to let go and whom to retain, they look at the value you’ve brought to the organization and your role in achieving the company’s overall goals. If they see no value in retaining an employee, they’ll simply let them go.
Getting into a space where you don’t see the need to continually grow could lead to the loss of a job.
So, how do you ensure you don’t get into a comfort zone?
- Develop new skills – the job market is very different from what it was ten years ago. You can’t compare the skills relevant then, to the ones you need today. Evaluate the skills you need to excel both in the current and future market. If you’re in accounting, for example, look for practical trainings to equip you with the latest skills.
- Network – networking is for job seekers, right? No, networking is for everyone. Through networking, you meet professionals who can help you advance your career, challenge you to grow, and expose you to new and greater opportunities. Continue expanding your professional network even after you get a job.
- Take up relevant short courses – you may not have the time to go back and do a diploma or degree, but you can still gain the skills by taking up short practical courses. Evaluate short courses relevant to your profession and pursue them. There are also soft skills that can help you improve your productivity and grow in your career. Some of these soft skills are emotional intelligence, conflict management, stress management, and time management.
- Develop new relationships – a saying goes, ‘if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.’ If you want to move into a different position, create professional relationships with someone who is in a similar role. They will guide you on what you need to get to the desired position.
3. Looking to work for big, established, and known companies only
What companies do you want to work for? I’m certain your list includes several big companies such as Safaricom, Equity bank, EABL, KCB and Nation Media Group.
Some professionals will only go for the top companies. When they are offered a similar position in a growing company, they will easily disregard it.
Yes, there’s the status and sense of pride associated with working for big companies. However, there are growing companies that offer far better opportunities.
Before you disregard a job simply because it is from a small or growing company, first consider the growth opportunity, job satisfaction, and what succeeding in the job could mean for your career.
At Corporate Staffing Services, some of the local and foreign companies we recruit for aren’t big or widely known. Yet, these growing companies often offer better terms -including salaries, than the big local and multinational organizations offer.
4. Lack of confidence
Confidence is among the key traits you’ll notice in almost all successful professionals. If you lack confidence, you’ll likely shy away from opportunities that could help you grow your career.
A professional recently contacted me seeking career coaching services. Her biggest issue, as she put it, was lack of confidence.
“Most times when I notice the management making a mistake, I often look at how I would have done it differently, but I choose to remain quiet.” She says.
In one instance, the general manager asked her to lead the team on a project. She rejected the offer saying, “I don’t have the confidence to lead the team.” The general manager insisted, but she refused to take up the role.
The role was given to one of her juniors. He delivered on the project and eventually got a promotion.
You may feel like you’re never ready to or you don’t have all the skills, but until you try, your career might stall, like what happened to this professional.
At the end of the day, what you do today will have an impact on your future. Take steps to grow your career and avoid these mistakes whether you’re looking for a job or you’re already working.
Perminus Wainaina is the C.E.O and Managing Partner at Corporate Staffing Services, a leading HR consultancy firm based in Westlands. Through personalized career coaching he assists mid-level and senior professionals get solutions to complex and challenging career issues that they are facing. Click here for more on career coaching.