Three Career Challenges and How to Handle Them

The saying goes that there is nothing certain in life but death and taxes. When it comes to your career in the next year, there are three things you can be certain will happen. Here are some strategies for how to overcome these challenges.

1 – You Will Have a Performance Review

You will face a review this year. What the outcome is depends a lot upon the effort you put into your performance review. Instead of following the typical performance review protocol where your boss rates every aspect of your performance without any real constructive feedback and offers you a perfunctory salary bump, be prepared by knowing what you want from the review, e.g. a raise, more responsibility, a promotion, etc. Ask for what you want and defend it by bringing a list of your accomplishments from the past year with quantifiable statistics and good short bullet points. Hopefully you’ve been tracking those accomplishments weekly so you don’t have to think too hard or work too hard to polish this document into something presentable. I call this an Achievement Brief. Presenting an Achievement Brief will set you apart and help you make the case for why you deserve what you’re asking for. For more information check out my post on this topic from July.

2 – You Will Doubt the Security of Your Job

This is inevitable, especially in an economy where we have seen years of layoffs or “right sizing” and little pick up in hiring. How can you be certain you will have the same job next year? You can’t.

Change your mindset. Make the most of your current job. Make yourself as indispensable as possible by taking on new projects, going the extra mile and collaborating with your colleagues. Embrace gratefulness instead of worry.

Stay in touch with your network. Make an effort to touch base with former colleagues, friends and other professionals within your industry. These people become your personal job placement team or sales team if and when the time comes for you to move on from a job or for you to find a new job after being laid off. They are the ones who will tell decision makers about you, pass along your resume and let you know of open positions.

Update your resume with your current position and performance statistics so it is ready to go if the perfect job opens up or if you need it to find another one. Is this a shameless plug? You bet it is. You’ll be relieved knowing you have a well-written, compelling, succinct professionally written resume when you have to start looking for your next position. Peace of mind is worth it.

3 – You will be faced with a problem that causes you considerable energy to resolve.

Don’t try and be a hero. Tap into the resources around you and don’t waste your energy trying to be a master of everything. When under stress each of us has the tendency to let our strengths become our weaknesses. For instance a fantastic executor or delegator turns into a micro-manager under stress in an effort to control every aspect of the process. While there are many great books on this topic, the one that I love is Alpha Male Syndrome by Kate Ludeman and Eddie Erlandson. Take stock of your strengths, surround yourself with people who complement yours and utilize their skills sets and talents to solve that problem. Motivating your team to solve problems through brainstorming and collaboration is a great way to show off those all important soft skills. You will expend far less energy dispersing work and soliciting input from those with different perspectives and approaches than you will trying to handle it solo.

Recognizing that you will be faced with challenges and having a strategy to handle them will lead to a greater sense of accomplishment, less stress when those challenges appear and will enhance your professional effectiveness.

The best is yet to come,