How to Trade Up Your Job

Loyalty is dead, at least from the employer’s side. You can and will be let go any time the employer decides your services no longer justify the expense. And statistics show that loyalty should be dead on the employee side too. “Employees Who Stay in Companies Longer than Two Years Get Paid 50% Less,” declared Forbes in an article last year. Yikes! Now money does not outweigh all other job considerations, and if you love your job and employer, you’re probably not even reading this. But if your ambitions include a more prosperous lifestyle or more fulfilling work life, it may be time to figure out how to trade up your job for a substantial increase in pay and satisfaction. Here’s the Your Edge for Success (YES) approach in five steps:

Step 1: Prepare your inner game. Unless you’ve worked on this, you probably have the “scarcity mentality” that is the fear-based, human default mode. A scarcity mentality is the belief that opportunities are limited, so you have to make the best of a bad situation (the economy, your lack of the right degree, your age, or whatever is on your mind) in searching for a new job. STOP. Before you start redrafting your resume and networking, you need to correct this belief, or you will create a self-fulfilling prophecy: You will not get what you really want, because you do not believe you can. The opposite is also true: If you conclude—and continue to believe with daily reinforcement—that you will get the perfect job for you, you will.

Step 2: Assess what you want. Once you get clear that you can have exactly what you want, it’s time to assess what that is. How? The left-brained approach: Make a list of all the things that have or have not worked for you in previous jobs, or that appeal or don’t appeal to you. Include industry, work tasks, salary, location, organizational size, organizational values, level of supervision, and more. Make a list of your top skills and competencies.

The right-brained approach: Fantasize about what you would do on a perfect day in your career if time, money, and experience were not factors. Notice what makes you envious of others’ careers. Remember what you loved to do in childhood.

Regardless of your approach, eventually you’ll want to narrow down your list of requirements to your top 10. Be careful, because this is your order to the universe, and you won’t have an excuse to send it back to the kitchen if it comes exactly as ordered. Then consider, research, and/or work with someone else to see what job profiles fit your top 10.

Step 3: Identify the right employers. You don’t know who’s hiring, you say? STOP. That’s the scarcity mentality talking to you again. Make a list of 10-20 employers you would love to work for, considering ideas from your own experience, Google, LinkedIn groups relevant to your field, and your network as you have meetings with people in your professional circle. You never know who may be about to hire, or who would hire you if you could solve a problem they have.

Step 4: Uncover the opportunities that best fit you. Explore the hidden job market by meeting with your circle of acquaintances and/or chatting with people on LinkedIn who work for the employers who interest you or who are in the industry you’re targeting. Find out what the challenging trends in the industry or problems in specific organizations are. Challenges equal needs, and that’s where you may be able to come in to fill the needs. Once you fully understand the problems, share some ideas with the person right there so they know you can be of help. You’ll also, of course, want to explore the published job market through sites like (job sites aggregator), (non-profit jobs), (federal jobs), development jobs), and LinkedIn (business networking site), where many jobs are posted on company pages and in professional groups.

Step 5: Get the Support You Need to Sell Yourself. Many people hate selling themselves, and they’re right. Selling yourself as the greatest or someone the employer obviously needs is immodest and awkward. Remember this: Nobody likes to be sold, but everyone like to buy what they need and want. So what you need to do is show that your skills and experience can fulfill the needs and wants of the buyer (the employer). How? Though your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and interviewing skills, of course!

If you are a marketing writer and expert salesperson, you may be able to prepare your written materials and get an offer every time you want one on your own so you get a new job fast. (Some employers only interview the best 2% of applications—note I said “applications,” not “applicants,” since their only way to judge your worth to them is through your application.) Or maybe you’re so well connected or have a skill set so unique that you will get a job even with sub-par materials and interviewing skills. But for most people, this is where it makes sense to invest in professional help. For a modest investment in working with Your Edge for Success, you’ll get that new job twice as fast*, and that means $1,000 to $40,000 more in your pocket. If you’re ready to trade your job up, hit me back with some times for a free half-hour phone consultation on your job search needs.

We all deserve to have the job of our dreams. Here’s to more satisfaction and better compensation in 2015!

*Our clients typically get a new job within two months of working with us, which is twice as fast as the national average for unemployed people (15 weeks).

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