Transferable Concepts: Wealth Management—Career Management

contributed by Dr. Stephen Bangert

A recent article by a wealth manager identified five mistakes investors make in a challenging market.  After reading the article I was struck by how closely these mistakes parallel the mistakes people made in managing their careers.

Do any of these points ring true for you?

Investor Mistakes

#1:  Not defining financial goals.  It is impossible to reach a goal if it is not defined.
#2:  Putting your eggs in one, or the wrong basket.  Investment vehicles, strategies and vary greatly; and diversity is an important part of any strategy
#3:  Assuming all stocks and bonds are alike.  They are not.  Make your selection after you have done research, and not on hear-say or hot tips.
#4:  Selling at the bottom.  This is not a good strategy.  It is only for desperate situations.
#5:  Going it alone.  Investing is not a do-it-yourself, weekend activity.

OK; these almost seem common sense.

Now what about similar mistakes make in managing one’s career?

Career Management Mistakes

#1:  Starting a job search without clearly identifying one’s goal.  How clearly can you define your goal?  What are some likely titles?  How does it fit within a corporate structure?  What responsibilities are you looking for?  What accountabilities do you desire?  How does such a job meet your short term plans?  How does such a job support your long range goals?  Does it give breath and /or depth to your career?  How will it be perceived by others?  How will it “look” on your resume?

#2:  Searching for a single job (which perhaps doesn’t exist).  Yes, you want to be focused, but you also want to be open to possibilities.  Great opportunities can be disguised with strange titles, or with very generic titles.  Try to get an understanding of the responsibilities, challenges and interaction with the larger organization.  Many great careers have had serendipitous twists and turns.  Knowing what you want while remaining open is an important balancing act when job searching.

#3:  Assuming that jobs with the same title are alike.  As an example: all sales manager roles are not the same, nor are all CFO roles the same.  Do your due diligence and know how a given job meets the goals and criteria you have set for yourself.  How does a job align with your likes/dislikes, preferences, priorities, etc.?

#4:  Taking whatever comes along.  Remember, unless circumstances make you desperate, you are not looking for just a pay check, but rather an opportunity where you can utilize your talents and advance in your professional development.  Sometimes taking a job “to get by” is a good short term decision, but also need to have a plan for moving beyond.  Don’t be disillusioned; a lateral move or a step backward is a tactic, not a strategy.  Don’t let such a job become a liability in later job searches.

#5:  Going it alone.  Yes, you can do many things yourself.  And in fact only you can really conduct your job search.  It can’t be delegated.  However if you are serious about your career, you are doing yourself a disservice trying to go it alone.  You may be thinking you are saving money when in actuality you are less effective and less efficient in your actions.  You may be loosing opportunities by mismanaging the interview relationship.  You may be undermining your worth when addressing compensation questions.  And you are likely leaving dollars on the table when negotiating.  You would be hard pressed to identify a person are the top of their career, their sport, their craft, etc. who does not have a coach, trusted advisors, handlers, agents.  Here I am reminded of an African saying:  “Go fast, go along.  Go far, go with others.”

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