Episode #17 – 3 Secrets for Maximizing Your Career Potential

3 Secrets for Maximizing Your Career Potential

Samantha: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, search consultant Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help organizations acquire top talent, while helping professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be discussing secrets for maximizing your career potential. Hello, Stacy. Thank you for joining us.

Stacy: Hello, I’m glad to be here today.

Samantha: Stacy, you talk with professionals all the time. In fact, you’ve talked with thousands of professionals in your career. During that time, you’ve seen how people approach their career and what they do to try to grow it. Does that experience serve as a backdrop for today’s podcast?

Stacy: Yes, it certainly does. What I want to do is take the experience that I’ve gained over the years, boil it down, and present it in a way that will help people put it to good use for their own careers.

Samantha: So what is the first secret you’d like to talk about today?

Stacy: The first one is, “Be aware of your surroundings.” Now, you may have heard this phrase before, and it’s usually when somebody is emphasizing how important it is to be aware of your surroundings in a potentially dangerous place. You may not think about this phrase in relation to your career, but you should be aware of your surroundings in your current employment situation.

To do that, you should ask yourself some questions. Those questions include:

• What’s the company culture like?
• What kind of relationship do I have with my boss?
• What kind of relationship do I have with my co-workers?
• What’s my employer’s mission statement?
• Does my employer have a vision for the future? If so, what is that vision? What’s my role in that vision?

Samantha: So when you ask these questions, you’re assessing your current employment situation. That’s what you mean by being aware of your surroundings?

Stacy: That’s right. You can’t maximize your career potential until you know where you’re at right now. In other words, you have to figure out exactly where you are before you can decide where you want to go.

When you figure out exactly where you are, there are two directions you can pursue:

1. First, you can grow your career with your current employer.
2. Second, you can grow your career by finding a better employment opportunity with another organization.

Each year, millions of people choose one of these two paths. It doesn’t matter which one you choose, as long as the path you choose is the right one for you.

That’s why being aware of your surroundings is so important. It helps you to identify which path is right for you, so you can choose it and do what’s necessary to grow your career.

Samantha: That brings us to our second secret, and I believe there’s a movie reference tied to this one, is that right?

Stacy: Yes, it is, and that movie is City Slickers, starring Billy Crystal and Jack Palance. In that movie, Jack Palance plays a character named Curly.

In one scene, Curly challenges Billy Crystal’s character Mitch to figure out his “one thing.” What Curly meant was the “one thing that was most important to him.”

So when it comes to your career, you have to determine what your “one thing” is. Here are some questions to consider as you figure out what “one thing” you ultimately want:

• Is it a greater challenge?
• Is it more opportunity for advancement?
• Is it the chance to acquire new skills?
• Is it more money or compensation?
• Is it to work for the best company in the industry?

Samantha: What if all of those things are important? They all sound like they would be, especially to top candidates.

Stacy: That’s a great question. What this exercises forces you to do is not only identify which things are important to you, but also to prioritize those things. It may seem like everything is equally important, but they’re not. You have to figure out what is most important to you.

And here’s why this exercise is crucial. When I was discussing the first secret, I mentioned there are two paths that people can take: growing their career with their current employer or growing it by finding a better employment opportunity.

When you figure out what is most important to you about your career, then it becomes easier to identify which path you should choose. You can decide if your current employer is able to give you the “one thing” that’s most important to you—now or possibly in the future—or if they’re not.

Samantha: So what is the next secret that you have today?

Stacy: The third secret is a rather simple one, but it’s very important. That secret is, “Always act with integrity.”

Samantha: That really doesn’t sound like a secret. You would think that acting with integrity is something that everybody knows they should do.

Stacy: Well, I can tell you from experience that I have seen countless people, literally hundreds, derail their career by NOT acting with integrity.

I can NOT stress this secret enough, and I call it a secret because obviously not everybody knows about it. If they did, I would not be witness to some of the things I’ve seen through the years.

Once again, you must act with integrity regardless of which path you choose to grow your career. If you decide to grow your career with your current employer, then you must act with integrity there. If you decide to grow your career with another organization, then you must act with integrity while you pursue other opportunities.

Samantha: What about that first path, growing your career with your current employer? What does that mean in terms of acting with 100% integrity?

Stacy: Acting with 100% integrity entails a lot of things that you should NOT be doing. Some examples of those things are:

• Taking credit for achievements that aren’t actually yours
• Assigning blame to somebody else for your shortcomings
• Saying and doing unprofessional or harmful things to co-workers
• Misrepresenting results to management

Basically, we’re talking about any lie or deception that makes you look better at the expense of other people. If you do that, then you are not acting with 100% integrity and it will hurt your career.

Samantha: Okay, what about the second path, finding a better employment opportunity with another organization? What does that mean in terms of acting with 100% integrity?

Stacy: Right off the bat, if you choose this path, it means you’ll become part of the interviewing and hiring process of another organization. There are numerous places in that process that provide opportunities for you to act with 100% integrity. Some examples include:

• Telling the absolute truth on your resume and not exaggerating
• Showing up for a face-to-face interview when you’ve said that you’ll be there
• Telling the truth during the interview
• Telling the hiring manager that you’re no longer interested in the position if that’s the case
• Letting a hiring manager know if you’ve already accepted an offer from another organization
• Showing up for work if you’ve accepted an offer of employment with a company

Now again, you might be thinking to yourself, “Well, of course you should do all of those things.” But again, I can tell you from personal experience that some professionals have not done these things, and their careers have paid the price.

Samantha: Stacy, you’ve shared many stories or case studies on our podcast. Do you have any such stories that pertain to this?

Stacy: I certainly do. In fact, I have three that relate to acting with integrity all of the time.

Case study #1: Bank president who got fired after his company was bought.

Case study #2: The Great Wolf Lodge incident in Kansas City.

Case study #3: The candidate who interviewed only because he wanted to take his wife on a trip to see New York City.

Samantha: Wow, those are some amazing stories! You’re right, you never know what people will do.

Stacy: That’s right, and what amazes me is that the industry in which I work is such a small industry. Everybody knows just about everybody else. So when things like this happen, it can produce negative outcomes.

It can come back to “bite you” and have an adverse effect on your career. There’s always the chance that your behavior will play a role in what happens to you in the future. The bank president from my first example could certainly attest to that.

But when you always act with integrity, you never lose, no matter what happens.

Samantha: That’s about all the time we have for today, but Stacy, you have two more secrets that you’ll share on an upcoming podcast. And you waited to share these because they’re the two biggest secrets about maximizing career potential, is that right?

Stacy: That’s right. They’re too big for us to include here today, but I want to encourage everybody to tune in for our next podcast for candidates. That’s when I’ll reveal those secrets.

Samantha: Stacy, thanks so much for all of this great information today.

Stacy: Thank you,Samantha. I look forward to our next podcast!