Flirting with the Industry

By: Andrew Amaechi

One of the most important lessons that I learned during my tenure with my first company post-graduation was the importance of taking control of my career or “flirting with the industry.” This philosophy was something that was introduced to me by my first mentor (a very savvy Medical Doctor), who taught me (amongst other things such as corporate politics and the power of using Bcc within emails) that companies will only be able to dictate the levels of success in your career if you let them and that the only way to achieve the levels of success that you desire is to take the decision-making out of their hands and place it solely in yours. 

Consider these stats regarding today’s workforce:

  • The worst kept secret governing our workforce is that EMPLOYEES ARE MAKING LESS ON AVERAGE EVERY YEAR.
  • Staying employed at the same company for more than two years on average will equate to you earning less over your lifetime by about 50% or more.
  •  In 2017, the average raise an employee can expect to receive is about 3%.  However, based on the current inflation rate which is 2.2% (as of April 2017 according to the bureau of labor statistics), the actual raise for an employee equates to about 1%.
  • On the other hand, the average raise an employee receives for leaving for another company is between a 10%-20% salary increase. Some employees have even received upwards of 50% increases but this depends on various factors such as the employee’s industry.
  • Why are companies able to pay employees less every year?......This is the result of recessions which give companies the opportunity to freeze their payroll and reduce the salaries of newly hired employees based on trends in the market.

The sooner you realize that you are a disposable commodity to your company the sooner you can begin taking proactive action towards taking control of your career. Think of it from this perspective: have you ever truly read your offer letter? Most, if not all, offers include a clause known as an “AT WILL AGREEMENT”; which in other words means that the company can terminate your employment for any reason without warning.  This is, of course, a two way agreement. However, it is viewed as unprofessional for an employee to leave his or her place of employment without giving a two-week notice; thus, making the aforementioned “at will agreement” a one-sided contractual clause.

 

I take the following approach when it comes to my professional career and I’ve even suggested this to friends and family who have experienced similar success: 

Keep one foot firmly inside your company: which means that you come to work on time, you build valuable relationships with your colleagues and clients and you perform your duties & tasks to the best of your ability.

On the other hand, keep your other foot outside of your company:  in that you create and frequently update your profile on all of the major job sites (such as Indeed, Career Builder, LinkedIn, Monster), study market trends related to your industry, attend career fairs and other professional networking events and even apply to positions that peak your interest every 3-4 months.  

 

In an ever changing economic and professional landscape, taking a proactive approach to your career ensures that will you be able to effectively maximize your earning potential and secure the positions that you deserve over the course of your career. These corporations have the right to maximize their profits and ensure their longevity and future success. However, you as the CEO of your own career, are equally entitled to maximize your profits as well.