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How to avoid making a career mistake

(or beware the frying pan and the fire...)


Have you ever made a mistake when changing job? You know, maybe gone into the wrong role in the wrong organisation at the wrong time for the wrong salary in the wrong town?

Yep. Me too. And many people that I talk to.

I know how these mistakes are made though. So that means that I can also help you to avoid them in the future. Want to know how?

My mistakes

I've made three major career mistakes in my time.

Career mistake number one was when I was headhunted from my first job. I was pretty successful in this first job, being promoted from PA to researcher to consultant and senior consultant in just five years. I enjoyed the progress and the resulting pay increases that came with the promotions. I was happy but had also reached a ceiling in my progression.

Then I had a call from a headhunter. That was flattering. I interviewed for the role (got asked whether I was a circle, triangle or square) and was offered the job. It was more money and a bigger company hopefully translating into more career opportunities.

I hated it. The company was bureaucratic, we didn't have enough work to do and I stagnated. Then I got depressed. Thankfully I was saved by redundancy.

Career mistake number two was when I moved from a highly stressful situation into a warm, cosy and easy role. I took a step back because I felt like I needed to recover from the stress factory I'd been working in.

However, the contrast was too great. I'd been used to a fast pace, innovation and variety. What I joined was a mature life-style business operating successfully but definitely not pushing any envelopes. The company valued loyalty and long service where I valued pace and creativity. I got bored very quickly.

Career mistake number three followed hot on its heels. I decided I needed to try something different as I'd been in the recruitment industry for over 10 years. I joined an organisation in a new role - the kind of role that you get to shape yourself which always sounds exciting. It was focused on two areas that I had enjoyed previously in my career - business development and running a small operations team.

The role started with two big surprises. Firstly that I was responsible for marketing but that there was no marketing budget (apart from my salary apparently). Secondly that the team that were reporting to me had not known that I was joining and, indeed, one of them had thought that she was leading the team - awkward!

Added to this, I really missed being a fee-earner. It wasn't a good fit at all.

Where I went wrong

What do you notice about these three mistakes? I notice two commonalities:

Firstly, I was completely unintentional about how I made these decisions. In all cases, I was running away from something I didn't like (glass ceiling, stress, boredom) and randomly running towards whoever would have me. Any port in a storm? Ironically my advice to candidates for the whole of my recruitment career was to run "towards" something rather than "away from" something. I should have heeded my own advice.

Secondly, I did NO research about the roles / organisations I was heading into. I just said "thank you very much, when can I start?" with each job offer. I didn't check whether they had enough work for me, what my exact role would be, what the marketing budget was... nothing. How could I have known whether they were a good fit or not?

How YOU can be intentional

Don't be like me, jumping from the frying pan into the fire. And don't just focus on finding a new job when you're unhappy. Take a step back from your career and look into yourself. What are you good at, what do you enjoy, what do you value and what will give you purpose? On these things will give you enough clarity to make the right choices.

These are big questions and, if you'd like some support in exploring these, I have some great news.

I am just about to launch the third iteration of my group programme "Get Clear on Your Career". It is a 7-week programme that takes you step-by-step through EXACTLY how to get clear on what sort of career or job will truly fulfil you.

And, if you sign up this week, by 6 pm on Friday 22nd, you will get THREE fast-action bonuses:

  • A 121 coaching session with me at any time during the 7 weeks (worth £375) - expires 22/04
  • A live MOTIVATION Masterclass halfway through the programme (worth £125) - expires 29/04
  • A free month inside the Flourish Club Membership (worth £65) - expires 06/05

All this PLUS the Get Clear on Your Career programme with training videos, workbooks and live group coaching. Find out more here. If you're interested but unsure if it's right for you, book a call with me here and we can explore it together.

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