Six Ways To Sidetrack Your Career

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By the time you graduate from college or earn a technical degree, you should have a good idea of your career goal. Why spend four or six years in college getting a degree or two without some goal in mind? There are usually a number of job choices for every degree. An engineering degree can apply to hundreds of positions. History, Education, Business. You’ve had six years to narrow down your options. Once you start job hunting, you should know just what target you’re aiming at.

Finding a job in your field and area of interest is the ideal situation. In a difficult job market, it isn’t always easy to do. The longer you look, the more desperate you can get. Student loans, rent, car payments, insurance and just wanting to finally make it on your own can push you to take a job outside your field with low pay and nowhere to go. Your career can sidetrack before you ever get started.

It’s important to plan career moves to show progression in your field or related experience in a particular industry. You may have to pass up some opportunities or take a job at a lower salary in order to get the right combination of experience to qualify for the next level. As long as you stay within your career plan, your resume should improve with each step.

Some choices can sidetrack your career and resume: 

  1. Taking a job out of your career path. There are a lot of reasons for taking a job and a big salary is one that‘s hard to pass up. Money is nice, but if you get used to the higher salary, it will be tough to give it up for a job in your career field that pays less.
  2. Following your boss. Building solid working relationships is a plus. It’s best to chart your own course instead of trailing after someone who is successful. Your boss may want you to follow her to her new job, but nothing is forever. If she loses her job along the way, you may be out of a job, too.  Best to hitch your wagon to your own rising star.
  3. Starting your own business. You may be so successful that starting your own business makes sense. Why work for someone else? Back in the job hunt, employers may wonder if you’ll be able to make the transition from being your own boss to being a member of a team again. 
  4. Taking time off to travel. Good for you, but while you were seeing the world, things were changing in your field. Technology moves fast, and even a year off will put you behind other applicants who have been keeping pace with the latest trends.
  5. Switching gears. Too many career changes on a one-page resume will make you appear scattered and unreliable. If you want to explore, stay within your field. There is lots of variety, and you’ll be adding depth to your experience.
  6. Going from exempt to non-exempt. A lot of job seekers are finding exempt, salaried positions hard to find. Like it or not, taking a non-exempt hourly position is perceived as taking a step down. You’re no longer considered a manager, supervisor or even classified as a professional. That perception is hard to change.

You may have to turn down some opportunities to staying on course. In the end, achieving your career goal is worth it.   

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