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Navigating Your Way to Career Success - STEER CLEAR OF OTHER MAJOR OBSTACLES

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Article Index
Navigating Your Way to Career Success
Chart A Sure Course
Steer Clear of Other Major Obstacles
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nother factor vital to managing your career is: stay in the career mainstream. In other words, make sure you're always in or heading for positions along the profession's structure and preparing for the next step while in your current position.
Once you've acquired certain transferable skills, the right experience, and you've hit the compensation ceiling, move on - don't linger. It's easy to stay in an outgrown position because of a light commute, complacency, or convenient hours. Ask yourself if you should be looking to the horizon if this is the case.
Other obstacles to steer clear of include certain salary traps. Guard against attaining a current income level greater than your value in the job marketplace at large. A professional is most vulnerable to this trap during the first three years when an opportunity to move up is passed by.
The result is that by remaining in one position too long, an individual continues to refine skills developed only for that position in that industry.

While this overspecialization benefits the present employer, and may benefit you salary-wise, your potential to a prospective employer, particularly in a different industry, is limited.
An important rule-of-thumb is that a person's overall net worth is best served by seeking exposure to a variety of industries such as insurance, banking, manufacturing, and service as well as an exposure to a variety of skills particularly early in one's career.
Salary rewards go hand-in-hand with keeping your skills and industry exposure as broad as possible. Recent salary studies (Figure 1) shows that accounting professionals achieved a 10.4% increase when changing jobs, compared to salary increases resulting from promotions of 8.8%, and those resulting from an annual review, of 6.4%.
The higher salary increase for changing jobs would reflect the greater premium placed on those whose skills are readily transferable to other companies or industries, where versatility means greater professional capability and career opportunity.


e wary of what seems like a "hidden treasure" handed to you. Some companies may pay employees inflated "insurance money" to attract those who might otherwise not remain: or they may pay "golden handcuffs" - top pay to highly specialized, valued employees whose commitment to the company is critical. How many of your colleagues do you know who think they have found a "sunken treasure" in an over-generous firm, only to find later their careers may be seriously jeopardized?
Other pointers to steer clear of are environments and industries where growth is limited or declining, regardless of how attractive the salary is that is dangled before you.

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While those higher-than-average salary situations may seem appealing, they pose a serious risk to a dedicated career plan.

Glitzy offers masking troubled areas rarely yield the real advancement opportunities for a truly viable career.

Stay alert to all these skill and salary pitfalls throughout your career. Monitor your progress regularly, and judge yourself against your peers and others in the workplace. Make sure you have regular sessions with superiors to assess your goals and strengths, and identify areas needing improvement. Ask yourself and your superiors, "How can I be better?" If you're "perfect", it may be time to consider aiming for the next step.


he key to professional success and satisfaction is a well-designed, carefully monitored career plan that you can develop and manage effectively. True, there may be those who seem to be lucky in attaining job satisfaction, but today's increasingly competitive environment, calls for greater individual responsibility and strategic career planning to help counteract the uncertainty of just plain luck.
By following the basis guidelines presented here - and carefully steering clear of the reefs that can lure you out of the career mainstream - you can enjoy smooth sailing all the way to your career goals.

Tony Glennon, John Sicilia & Ray Pirre are the founding partners of GSP International. They are members of the IMA through which this article was submitted.