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Career Planning: The Grass Isn’t Always Greener

Career Planning: The Grass Isn’t Always Greener

Chances are you've met the man (or woman) who keeps his job options wide open. Even after he lands a great job, he keeps his resume on career, effectiveness, planning, workplace, scans the classifieds with his Sunday coffee and attends as many trade conferences as he can to network. Whenever he meets a manager who might hire him he suggests lunch just to "explore the opportunities." Like the person who avoids commitment in personal relationships, this employee continuously seeks a more appealing job.

Unlike employees who work hard while occasionally scanning the horizon for a better job, this employee focuses so much attention on landing a better opportunity he never gives 100 percent to his current job or employer. Why knock himself out when he knows he won't be there for the long haul?

Without realizing it, this employee cheats himself as well as his employer.

Employees who wait for the perfect job before they invest full effort develop a pattern of non-participation. Because they treat their current jobs as less interesting than the next great position, they never really seize the job opportunities they have or push themselves to fully develop their job muscles. Racers who dash forward toward career success with eyes aimed sideways, see too late fast-moving advantages crossing their path. Others with their eye on the main game thus seize the best opportunities to take on additional responsibilities. Eventually, these employees pass by the talented but less engaged next-job seeker.

What about you? Do you fix your eye on the career horizon because you find yourself in a less than perfect job? Understandable. It takes a surprising amount of energy to suffer through a workweek trapped in a sort-of-OK work situation. You might work for a supervisor with annoying idiosyncrasies; confront a work pile containing a fair amount of drudgery or work alongside or supervise button-pushing energy vampires.

Daily you face the choice between fully investing in your current job or deciding to wait to fully commit your effort until you land the right job. Wait, however, and you forget that your current position gives you the opportunity to develop your talents and abilities.

If you can work each job as fully as you can, rather than treating less-than-ideal positions as time fillers until you find the right job, you gain the maximum from the on-the-job training that comes only when you work your hardest and stretch yourself. Employees who play the game of work to win give full effort every work day even in jobs that aren't perfect. As a result, their supervisors turn to them when special opportunities come along. Further, when the right job comes along, they've developed the skills and seasoning to handle it well and the stellar job references needed to land that prize job.

Your choice -- scan the horizon for the perfect job or make yourself the right employee who seizes all the opportunities in front of you while preparing for the job you long for.



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Lynne Curry, Ph.D., SPHR and owner of the Alaska-based management consulting firm, The Growth Company Inc. consults with companies and individuals to create real solutions to real workplace challenges. Their services include HR On-call (a-la-carte HR), investigations, mediation, management/employee training, executive coaching, 360/employee reviews and organizational strategy services. You can reach Lynne @, via her workplace 911/411 blog, or @lynnecurry10 on twitter.

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