The Mistake EVERYONE makes in their career

I hope you can avoid it by reading this.

As a headhunter, every candidate I worked with had vastly different personal situations, however I found ONE piece of advice to be the same no matter who I was representing, how senior, how junior, and across all industries. In fact, I published an article back in my headhunting days to reiterate the importance of this one principle everyone MUST learn to sustainably grow a wildly successful career.

This concept is simply that: You must always look for jobs when you LEAST need to look for jobs. Now, that may sound counterintuitive or a waste of time. If you’re totally happy with your job, why should you even consider anything else?

The reason is simple: It’s because YOU NEVER KNOW what will happen in this day and age of rapid technological, industrial, and corporate change! Instead of staying ahead of the game by leveraging every awesome situation you have, you may miss this golden opportunity of ultimate “leveragability”.

Take a look at how Dandan Global breaks down the correlation between your job satisfaction with your power as a candidate.

Dandan Global 2016

This graph proves ONE UNIVERSAL TRUTH that we as humans have experienced in a variety of ways throughout our lives. This sad and inconvenient realism that: when you need to do something, it’s already too late because your need is now driving the process, which implies you have areas you must compromise to get what you want.

The only way to truly take advantage of your career is to think one step ahead of the game. I used to tell my candidates, EVERYONE needs to evaluate their careers at 3-year intervals. NEVER get comfortable because you’re missing what’s going on in the bigger scheme of the industry and rapid growth of newer, better, more game-changing companies. What are you going to do during your career and employment? When will you evaluate where you currently are and what you’re potentially missing out on?

I didn’t take my own advice, because at my 3-year mark into my headhunting career, I was a high-flying top biller, coddled by my management and promoted constantly. I figured, I’ll happily work another decade for my then-employer, and eventually ride off into the golden sunset with my bucketloads of cash and corporate accomplishments under my belt. It never crossed my mind EVER to network or to reach out to anyone for future growth opportunities, despite me telling my candidates to do so every chance they got!

Uncannily, when the my 3-year mark came to close, problems arose that were beyond my expectations, planning, or wildest imaginations. Lo and behold, a variety of problems culminated in year 4 being my most difficult year due to: inheriting a team of underperforming salespeople who had no intentions of becoming successful headhunters, changing markets due to management “policies” and not knowing to negotiate for a customary guaranteed commission protection to weather the drastic loss of income, to not being able to sustain the extreme effort it would take to rebuild an entirely new business while burdened with the daily investments needed to train staff. I realized my mistake: I should have taken my own advice and looked when I didn’t need to.

Food for thought: Where are you currently in the Candidate Power V Employment Status spectrum?

What activities can you currently do to ensure that you stay ahead of the curve and protect your best interests?

Who have you neglected to network with or get to know? When IS the right time?

The answer is probably: A LOT SOONER THAN YOU MAY WANT TO ADMIT OR THINK. But it doesn’t mean you can neglect to do the crucial activities everyone in today’s world needs to think about!

Dandan Zhu is a NYC-based entrepreneur, Founder and CEO of Dandan Global, headhunter-turned-career coach, and go-getter businesswoman.

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