This morning I read an interesting Forbes article from entrepreneur and bestselling author Rick Smith. Titled 5 Career Mistakes You Will Regret In 10 Years, the piece offers some sage advice that – and I say this as a former Recruiter and Generalist that has supported fairly large and diverse client groups – goes unfollowed by a surprising percentage of the population.
You can read the full piece at the link above (recommended). With that said, I wanted to use this morning’s space to offer suggestions on a few ways to avoid the first two mistakes highlighted in Rick’s piece. I think that some (perhaps even most) people make them simply because they don’t know how to do things a better way. Ergo, I’m hoping my (admittedly sophomoric) advice is helpful in steering at least a few people in the right direction:
1. Network only within your company.
This is an easy mistake to make simply because networking outside of our companies becomes a lot harder as we get older. Our free-time becomes more limited, and our networks tighten. Consequently, we have both less bandwidth to dedicate to meeting people outside of our immediate surroundings and the pool of people interested in networking also shrinks. Against such headwinds it’s easy to abandon external networking, but there are more tools available than ever before that we can leverage to make it more convenient. Use tools like Linkedin to find old friends and alumni and setup some time for a 30 minute call. Leverage social channels to find local professional groups and communities that you can take an evening or two a month to visit. It would surprise you how many new people you can meet just by setting aside 1-2 hours a week.
2. Make decisions based on money.
At this point most people realize that it makes sense to pursue experiences as opposed to job titles and cash. Over the long run the former will add much more value to your career (and ultimately bank account). And yet many of us pursue cash over experiences in the short-term because of real or perceived capital crunches. Student loans when we’re younger, and mortgages, weddings, and college educations when we’re older. Having been there, I will say that the best way to mitigate this is by adopting some good savings habits early in your career. Put as much of your money into your 401k as possible (including year over year merit increases) – you won’t feel this as much as you think because the deductions are pre-tax. Also, start a personal Roth IRA – the contributions you make to such an account can even be withdrawn penalty free if you need the money for some of the big purchases that create cash crunches later in life. Setup both contributions as auto-deductions from your paycheck, which will give you the financial freedom you need to focus on developing your career over the long-term.
As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.