As we work to help all people build better careers, we have noticed one major difference between people who seem to grow their careers with ease and those that struggle or seem to plateau. This difference does not have to do with intelligence, worth ethic, or good luck. We see many hard-working, smart, dedicated people in the right place at the right time who still have trouble reaching their career goals.
This important difference has to do with their way of thinking about their current job and how it fits into their overall career journey. We call see this difference the Job vs. Career Mindset.
While we fully expect most of your thinking will be (and should be!) about performing well in your current job, people who adopt a Career Mindset have 5 important differences that help them find faster career growth. We will go over each of them briefly here.
1. Next Job Targeting
People with a Job Mindset tend to react to new job opportunities that they find, while people with a Career Mindset target specific roles that advance their career. This shows up clearly in Career Goals where Job Mindset individuals have general goals like "Become an Executive" or "Find a job I like" where Career Mindset people write goals like "Become a CMO of a $1B technology company."
This difference is important because it is far easier to build a plan to achieve a specific goal than to achieve a general goal. We encourage everyone to set specific goals.
This does not mean that you shouldn't be open to new job opportunities that you encounter. Definitely consider them! But you should understand how they fit into your career plans and have one or two goals that you are explicitly targeting.
2. Skill Development
When thinking with a Job Mindset people tend to focus on the skills they need to do their current job better, while people with a Career Mindset are identifying the skills they need to land their next job.
Being proactive on skill development can have significant benefits. You build capabilities and experience that will make you more attractive to your next hiring manager and will increase your confidence that you will be able to perform when you land your next role.
The key to developing the right skills is to have a clear goal. If you are a software engineer, the skills you need will be different if you want to evolve into being a development manager, a sales engineer, or an implementation services leader. Will you want to focus on team leadership, customer interaction, or understanding new environments quickly?
Pick your goal and then work on projects to build the right skills in advance.
3. Job Change Timing
When to Change Jobs may be the biggest difference between people with a Job Mindset and a Career Mindset. In good news, people with a job mindset tend to stay in their jobs because they like them, or at least they don't dislike them too much! Unless they become sufficiently unhappy, they tend to stay in their current jobs.
By contrast, people with a Career Mindset know they are at their most valuable after achieving a major career success. Whether they have launched a great product, closed a big sale, or implemented a major HR project, your big successes are what other managers want to have in their team.
We recommend that once you have had a major success, you consider your goals and see where you can apply that success to have an even bigger impact. This could be within your current company by advocating for yourself to take on a bigger role, or at a new company that would love to achieve similar success.
Our biggest takeaway is that if you wait until you are unhappy to consider your next job, you are waiting to long!
4. Negotiating Compensation
While When to Change Jobs is the biggest mindset difference between people with a Job vs. Career Mindset, How You Negotiate Compensation has the biggest impact on career earnings.
People with a Job Mindset tend to get paid based on their previous compensation. They negotiate a 5%, 10%, or even 30% increase off of their previous compensation.
While a 30% increase in compensation is fantastic, people with a Career Mindset can negotiate 50%, 100% or 200% increases by knowing what the market rate for their new job is. They share what they expect to get paid to take the job, not what their current compensation is. Sometimes you will get what you ask. Sometimes you won't.
In our view, it's better to take slightly longer and get a 50-100% increase, then to move quickly for a 10-20% increase. Over a career, it can increase your earnings many times over.
5. Career Feelings
This last one is less of a behavior and more of an outcome. When we asked many early-to-mid career professionals how they felt about developing their careers, the most common word we heard from people in the Job Mindset was "overwhelmed." They felt that there were too many options, no blueprint, no place to go for authentic help, and in general they were just getting through each day.
Hopefully you can see why we focused on addressing these issues with Whomi! We want more people to feel like those with a Career Mindset who tend to feel "excited" about where they are going. They have a goal, they have a plan, they have people that support them.
We hope you will adopt a Career Mindset when thinking about your own career. We have seen the results consistently from those that do. Let us know how Whomi can support your Career Mindset even better!