How to Create Your Career Future

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Based on the statistics, the odds are:

  • You're NOT overly excited about your job,
  • You're NOT your supervisor's biggest fan and/or
  • You're NOT sold out to the mission and vision of your company.

Every human resources think tank in America reports that employees are poorly engaged and hate their jobs, bosses or companies. Depending on whose survey you're looking at, 65% to 80% of employees are disengaged and not putting their heart and soul into their current career curse – I mean “choice.” Usually, the pitiful employee engagement assessment figures are then followed by recommendations for employers and leaders to,

  • Take notice!
  • Take action!
  • Improve benefits!
  • Drive “culture change!”
  • Increase communication.
  • Etc.

Here's another point of view.

How to Create Your Career Future
(Solid advice for job-seekers from a recruiter)

Here's the alternative point of view:

It's not your company's job to get you motivated and excited to do a good job. It’s your job. Just sayin'.



Whether you’re a current or future job-seeker, the rest of this article was written to give you the insight to make a smart choice between:

  • Are you going to be a great employee NOW – which is to YOUR long-term benefit?
  • Or are you going to be a mediocre employee NOW – which will impact YOU long into your future?

Here’s an inside view into how hiring decisions are made to give you a reason to choose to be a great employee NOW and why it’s to YOUR long-term benefit!

The job of a recruiter is to put as many highly qualified people as possible into a pool of candidates so that a hiring manager has an opportunity to make a great choice.

Which candidate will the hiring manager choose?

That’s easy. The applicant who is rated a “9” will be selected over the one who is rated an “8.” The one who is rated a “10” will be selected over the one who is rated “9.” The one who is rated “7” probably won't be selected for anything. But sometimes, a candidate who is rated “7” gets selected because everyone thinks they are a “9” – but only because no “8,” “9” or “10” applied (which results in the highest performers missing from the applicant pool).

Get the picture?

For good reasons, for some jobs, you would be considered a “10!” For other jobs, you may be a “9” or an “8” based on the relationship of your background, skills and experience relative to what is required for the position. But there are some jobs for which you would be rated a “5” or “6” – or worse – because of missing qualifications, skills, experience, etc.

The good news is that the difference between being a “7” or an “8” – or an “8” or a “9” – is usually in your control. And you potentially can be a “10” if you're already a “9” – because the difference is in your control!

Here’s why.

The part that is always in your control is the part that is influenced by your choices – not your background, skills or previous experience. To make this point further, which of the following two lists of attributes do you think characterizes a great employee? List A or List B?

List A

  1. Action-oriented
  2. Considerate
  3. Dependable
  4. Detail-oriented
  5. Enthusiastic
  6. Flexible
  7. Goes the extra mile
  8. Hard-working
  9. High energy
  10. Honest
  11. Optimistic
  12. Passionate
  13. Positive
  14. Self-motivated
  15. Shows up early
  16. Team-oriented
  17. Thorough
  18. Trustworthy

List B

  1. Accounting literate
  2. Bi-lingual
  3. Business analytics skills
  4. Contracts management skills
  5. Database design experience
  6. Excel VBA programming skills
  7. Graphical data illustration skills
  8. Lean Six Sigma knowledge
  9. PowerPoint expertise
  10. Programming capability
  11. Project management experience
  12. QA experience
  13. configuration skills
  14. Social media marketing experience
  15. Technical sales experience
  16. Technical writing skills
  17. Vendor management experience
  18. Web/HTML/XML design experience

The attributes in List A are the “soft skills” which are behavioral choices and totally within your control. List B are example “hard skills” or “technical skills” which can be learned though training, education and self-improvement.

Between two candidates with the exact same background, skills and experience, the one with a great attitude, who is a team player, who is always punctual and who always goes the extra mile will always show up better and score higher than someone without those attributes.

Now consider the same list but against a different comparison set of attributes:

“A Player” – Great Qualities

  1. Action-oriented
  2. Considerate
  3. Dependable
  4. Detail-oriented
  5. Enthusiastic
  6. Flexible
  7. Goes the extra mile
  8. Hard-working
  9. High energy
  10. Honest
  11. Optimistic
  12. Passionate
  13. Positive
  14. Self-motivated
  15. Shows up early
  16. Team-oriented
  17. Thorough
  18. Trustworthy

“B Player” – Average Qualities

  1. Waits for direction
  2. Insensitive at times
  3. Inconsistent
  4. Sometimes inattentive
  5. Chill
  6. Stubborn at times
  7. Does only what’s told
  8. Does the minimum required
  9. Laid back
  10. Unforthcoming until asked
  11. Cynical or pessimistic
  12. Bored or unexcited
  13. Suspicious
  14. Lazy or low-energy
  15. On-time
  16. Independent
  17. Careless at times
  18. Pushes the rules

When recruiters are reviewing and comparing candidates, A Players show up very different because of their choices and as a result, rank higher – always. This rating and ranking phenomenon happens when candidates are evaluated and compared to each other because the attributes used to score a candidate are not simply technical competency, hard skills and prior experience. Effective candidate rating and ranking includes the additional soft dimensions.

So how does a recruiter know what kind of Player you are? It’s very simple. You either have something “extra” beyond “duties and responsibilities” on your resume and in your references – or you don’t.

What this means to you is,

  • Your behavioral choices at your job today determine what your resume and references will look like.
  • Your choices now make you stand out or look the same – which influences future chances of selection.
  • Your resume and past performance as a result will determine what salary you are offered.
  • Your choices and position will impact the promotions and additional opportunities given to you.
  • The opportunities you are given will determine your bonuses and growth potential.
  • Your salary and bonuses will determine your lifetime earnings.
  • Your lifetime earnings will be the biggest predictor of your future net worth.
  • And your future net worth will determine…[fill in the blank]!

Now What? Action Required (On Your Part)

Disengaged, unmotivated and under-performing employees are also poor team members and poor followers – and make poor leaders.

These B Player employees make personal choices which create a pattern. How they handled themselves in prior positions comes through loud and clear on their resumes. The silence is deafening. Again, the absence of anything great on a resume tells us more about who they are than anything written about their prior duties and responsibilities.

Conversely, engaged, motivated and high-performing employees are also great team members and great followers and often make good leaders. Their decisions and choices show up in the “extra” on their resumes.

So first, if these A Player characteristics don't describe your level of work commitment and engagement, realize you're only hurting yourself. Regardless of whether or not you love your company…your accomplishments, achievements and other differentiators are personal and will be a permanent fixture on your resume forever – or lack thereof.

Regardless of how you feel about your company, the culture, your supervisor or the ethics…your commitment to be your best in your current position will do more to illustrate who you are in the future than anything else.

That’s why recruiters often say, “Past performance is the best predictor of future performance.” So, it’s in your best interest to make a decision now to exhibit the behaviors of an A Player; because, only by demonstrating these behaviors now will you score high enough to be selected, promoted, given more opportunity or be offered a higher paying position in the future.

If you're already an A Player – positive, taking ownership of issues and their resolution, going the extra mile, etc. – that's great! But if it's not clearly communicated through your resume, you're not going to get credit for it. “Duties and Responsibilities” do nothing to differentiate you from competitive candidates for the position you want. Recruiters and hiring managers are looking for ‘9’s” and “10’s.”

If have not denominated measurable contributions, process improvements or personal achievements to illustrate your persistence, tenaciousness, positivity and commitment, you're not giving yourself full credit for what you have accomplished and contributed. You may be an “8” on your resume; but, because you’re not conveying how you are an A Player, you're not going to be given the “extra credit” as a “9” when your resume is reviewed next to the other candidates.

At some point in the future, you're going to be faced with an opportunity to work in your ideal career – the “perfect job!” At that point, when that day comes, and you’re more motivated than ever because the job looks amazing and is so perfect for you…it won't matter how excited you are; because, your chances of getting the opportunity will have already been determined by all the choices you made in your prior positions. Meaning, you literally are creating your future right now by the choices you make today.