4 Ways to Proactively Take Control of Your Career

I’ve addressed the subject of fear on many occasions in this blog. In fact, for those of you who have read my articles, you probably already know the acronym I use regarding fear. That acronym is:

Fear = False Evidence Appearing Real

Fear holds people back in their careers in many different ways. I can say that based on my 20 years of experience as a search consultant, it’s remarkable what fear can do. I will also say that those people who don’t allow fear to dictate their actions typically enjoy more success than those people who allow fear to hold them back.

In previous articles, I’ve discussed how professionals should not allow fear to stop them from at least considering an opportunity when it’s presented to them. When you say “No” to an opportunity without hearing about it, then you don’t even know what you’re saying “No” to. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, does it?

However, in this blog post, I want to explore things that you can do that are even more proactive in nature. That’s because I firmly believe that being proactive is rewarded, whether it’s in your career or in life in general.

Yes, it’s true that when you’re proactive, sometimes you make mistakes and sometimes unfortunate things happen. But in many cases, being proactive makes things happen, and by and large, it makes good things happen.

You probably know the saying, “Good things come to those who wait.” Forget about that, at least for the purposes of this blog post and your career.

A blueprint for being proactive

Below are four ways to proactively take control of your career and not let fear dictate your actions:

#1—Make the first move.

Waiting for opportunity to come to you and being open to considering that opportunity is great. But there is also something to be said for pursuing opportunity. When you pursue opportunity, you put yourself in a great position to be able to take advantage of it. What does it mean to “make the first move”? It means many things, including the following:

  • Attending an industry event to build your network and your brand.
  • Approaching somebody in your network about a job opening.
  • Aligning yourself with an experienced search firm.

The bottom line: be proactive and put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid of rejection and don’t let the fear of failure stop you.

#2—Promote your candidacy and state your case.

Employers rarely hire what they consider to be “the perfect candidate.” That is, if they have 10 main requirements for a position, they rarely hire somebody who has all 10. They sometimes hire somebody with between seven and nine of the requirements.

Employers are looking for somebody who can “hit the ground running” or grow into the position quickly. They’re looking for candidates with superb intangible skills, such as collaboration and/or leadership capabilities. Just because you don’t have 10-out-of-10 of the requirements, that does NOT mean you should count yourself out. If you truly believe that you can do the job, then emphasize the skills and experience you do possess and emphasize them every chance you get.

#3—Follow up without fail.

Not only is being proactive rewarded, but so is persistence. You’ve made the first move, you’ve reached out, and you’ve stated your case. Now follow up. You might need to do it more than once. People are ultra-busy these days, and just because you haven’t heard anything does not mean that your candidacy has been dismissed.

Now, this doesn’t mean to be overbearing. You have to strike a balance. Being persistent in following up is a good trait, but you must be positive and upbeat. It is vitally important that you provide a great experience every time you interact with the person with whom you’re following up. Remember, you are continuing to brand yourself.

#4—Learn (and practice) the art of negotiation.

This refers to negotiation with both your current employer and with a potential future employer. In the former situation, we’re talking mainly about negotiation regarding a raise and/or promotion. In the latter situation, we’re talking about negotiating an offer of new employment. In both situations, a proactive approach can pay the dividends that you’re seeking.

The first step in negotiation is believing that you’re good enough or that you provide a certain level of value. If you don’t believe that, then you won’t excel in negotiation. The second step is being able to prove that you’re good enough or that you provide a certain level of value.

These two steps are critical when viewed in the context of the two situations described above. It doesn’t matter where you are in your career. If you don’t know how to negotiate, then you’re not going to reach your potential.

Fear is the enemy

Make no mistake about it, fear is the enemy. When you’re afraid, you don’t act proactively. You act reactively. Case in point: the best time to look for a great new employment opportunity is when you already have a good job. That’s because you’re moving from a position of strength as opposed to a position of weakness.

When you’re proactive about growing your career, as opposed to reactive, you’re moving from a position of strength. Therein lies the importance of being proactive and not allowing fear to dictate your actions, or perhaps more accurately, your inactions.

Aligning yourself with an experienced search and recruitment firm in your chosen field is one way to be proactive. Being open to opportunity when it presents itself is sound advice, and it’s the approach that everybody should take. Being proactive and pursuing opportunity only strengthens your position and increases your chances of enjoying long-term success.

We help support careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of organizations. If this is something you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.