Career Advice Part 1: Don’t Settle

I’m going to veer a little bit from the primary mission of this blog (leadership development) and offer a 5 part series of career advice posts.

I do this with some hesitation. There are hundreds of career advice blogs out there already. For a good sample, start with Alltop’s collection of career blogs. I’d also recommend signing up for the new SmartBrief on Your Career free daily newsletter.

The point is, I can’t even begin to compete with some of my favorites like Anita Bruzzese, so I won’t even try. I humbly bow to their expertise.

However, I have picked up a few strategies that have worked for me over the last 30 years, and I love to give advice and help others. So I guess that sort of qualifies me.

Here’s part 1 of 5 – I hope you enjoy.

Career Advice Part 1: Don’t Settle
This last December, I was in my office with my nose to the grindstone cranking out new ways to develop leaders for the coming year. I heard a horrible noise coming from the lobby and went out to investigate. It was a rag-tag collection of employees with Santa hats singing Christmas carols in the lobby of our corporate headquarters. There were a couple Vice-Presidents in the chorus, children of some of our employees, and anyone else they could round up that could carry a tune.
I’m kidding about the horrible noise – they were actually pretty good. I looked down below on the first floor and saw the buffet tables and carving stations being set up for the annual employee holiday lunch. These lavish spreads are set up in every one of our major facilities. Santa Clause was going around with a cart handing out cookies.
As I leaned against the wall with my co-workers and took it all in, a warm feeling came over me. Could it have been heartburn – or heartfelt emotion?
I realized how far I had come since I quit my last job to join this company. At my last company, the holidays meant layoff season. I would have been firing employees as a manager or HR manager, watching my co-workers walk out, or worrying about losing my own job. No Santa Claus, no cookies, no carols.
It was at that moment that I realized what an impact a job can have on who you are. It affects your attitude, your values, your relationships, your self-esteem – just about everything that matters. I realized that I had changed significantly – very gradually without even realizing it. I had become a better person, and a much better leader.
At the time I left, I didn’t realize how much that job was affecting me. The primary reason I left was due to a lack of *support for training. Looking back, I now realize I had become hardened, cynical, mis-trusting, and somewhat selfish as a leader. Thanks God I made the decision to get out. It was a tough decision at the time – I left a high profile job and was making good money. It’s turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
So here’s my career advice to all of you: Don’t settle for a job that’s making you miserable. Because it’s not just a job – it’s a huge part of your life, and unless you’re coated with Teflon, a bad job could turn you into a bad person. Life’s too short – no job is worth selling your soul.
Yes, I do realize there’s double-digit unemployment right now, so many of you are lying low and waiting for the economy to improve. That may be a wise strategy for now, however, the 22 Best Companies to Work for currently have at least 500 opening each, totaling more than 87,750 jobs!
Who knows – maybe one of those is hiring managers is looking for you.
If this Careerbuilder commercial from last year’s Super Bowl reminds you of your job… then maybe it’s time.

I can’t wait to see this year’s Super Bowl ad. You can vote for your favorite here. I like Job Fairy.

* Happy ending note: I’m proud to say I’ve found a company that very much supports training. I’ll be going to San Diego next week to the Training 2010 Conference to accept our Training Top 125 award. We don’t know where we’ve placed yet, but we’re usually in the top 50. Know any good restaurants? (-:

Stay tuned for Career Advice parts 2-5 in the upcoming weeks.