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VOL. 129 | NO. 56 | Friday, March 21, 2014

Angela Copeland

Becoming Your Own CEO

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I’ve heard the same story at least three times in the past two weeks. A high-performing worker went in for a performance review with the boss. The boss said something along the lines of, “You’ve done a great job. I appreciate you. I can’t offer you a promotion, or a raise, but please don’t leave. I need you here.”

If you’ve recently had a review that ended this way, you may feel lost. Even if you like your boss and your job, you’re looking for career advancement. And, at a minimum, you’d like your salary to keep up with an average inflation rate. You have bills to pay.

In today’s environment, companies don’t offer many reasons to stick around. They wonder why employees are leaving in droves. But, the big financial incentives are often given to new employees, while current employees are left holding the bag. It’s for this reason I don’t recommend pursuing a job that will “get your foot in the door.” You will rarely see a big jump in pay or status using this approach.

What should you do if you find yourself in this less-than-satisfying situation? The first step is to become a CEO. “To which organization?” you may ask. It’s time to become the CEO of your own career development. No one will do this for you, so it’s up to you to take charge. If you don’t help yourself, who will?

Start out by defining your short- and long-term goals. Update your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile.

Next, look for opportunities for growth. Is there a new skill you’ve been hoping your boss will teach you? How can you grow on your own? Is there a class you can take, a co-worker who will teach you, or a nonprofit you might volunteer with?

For example, if you want to grow your marketing career, look for an underfunded nonprofit organization, and offer to help for free. If you want to become a better public speaker, seek out resources like Toastmasters or a speaking coach, or volunteer to talk to a community group on a topic you know about. Look for mentors who know about the subject you want to learn about.

Getting a job is a job in itself. If you are serious about a change, spend 30 minutes to an hour each day working on yourself and your skills, searching for jobs, and building your network. Put the same level of effort into your career development that you put into taking a class. You may never use what you learned in chemistry again, but building your career will help you going forward. Take your career development at least as seriously.

Being in charge of your career by becoming your own CEO is the one sure path to success. It will allow you to steer yourself in the direction you prefer. And, at the end of the day, you will find an employer who values you enough to give you that raise and promotion you worked so hard for all year.

Angela Copeland is CEO/founder of Copeland Coaching, www.CopelandCoaching.com, and author of “Breaking The Rules & Getting The Job.” You can follow Copeland Coaching on Twitter (@CopelandCoach) and Facebook (Facebook.com/CopelandCoaching).

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