CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JUL. 02, 2016
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4 Secrets to Taking Career Risks—While Still Paying Your Rent

As the saying goes nothing ventured, nothing gained. The problem is that if you have nothing when you venture you could lose everything.

OK sue me, I know that that was a very convoluted use of an idiom, but I’m no idiom! I know that was bad, but I can’t help myself I’ve tried everything, therapy, psychoactive drugs…holy water. I just can’t compulsively stop the puns…the puns are strong in me...but I digress. Taking risks (like the one I did in the intro) leaves you exposed and vulnerable. Sure you could drop everything and take a job with a start-up, but what if the start-up goes under in six months? Well let’s take a look at how you can take career risks but also keep a roof over your head.

See Also: Devotion to the Profession: 5 Bodyguards That Risked Their Life For Their Famous Clients

1. Internalize

No not your feelings, angst and frustration but your “career” risk. Instead of packing a file box with your ficus and cat shaped pencil sharpener (I didn’t ask where the hole was but thanks for that information) when you feel burnt out, try creating your perfect job. I know it sounds hard but if you have a few little tiny itty bitty pieces of information, you should make out like a bandit. The important piece of information would be to assess what deficiencies the company or organization has and if you’ve worked there long enough you should already know them. Then see if anything you enjoy doing overlaps with what the company needs. For example if you like to write and the company is struggling with marketing, then you could ask to start writing a blog to advertise the website. You could also recommend yourself to create an online social media presence if necessary. Beyond trying to shoehorn your dream job into your existing one, there might be opportunities you aren’t even aware of. The only way to tap into this network is by…networking. Expand your network beyond your department and try to keep your ear on the ground, eventually hopefully you’ll find out about a job you were unaware of.

2. Pros And Cons

pros and cons
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Calculated risk means that you take the risk knowing most of the parameters that could potentially affect the outcome of your endeavor. What your course of action should be is the first step. Are you thinking about doing the same thing you do now but with a different, more positive, company? What are the reasons you want to leave, are they personal or organizational? The distinction between the two is simple, personal reasons can be: feeling burnt out, feeling like the job doesn’t challenge you enough or that you just don’t feel like you fit anymore. On the organizational side of things the reasons might be lack of upwards mobility, incorrect and/or inefficient leadership or inter-personal conflicts with members of administration. Do you feel like you want to completely change careers? First you have to see how each career compensates you, which pays better and if your new career pays less, do the mental benefits out-weigh the lower salary? How are the job opportunities? If you decide to change your career only to end up at the back of the unemployment line…then how will you keep up with your financial obligations? These are all questions that need to be assessed and compared to make your risk as safe as possible…you want to take a risk but at the same time you don’t want to end up living with your parents, or crashing on a friends couch again (its fine if you do it straight out of college but it's not that normal as a full-fledged adult).

3. Try It Out Before You Go

They say the grass is always greener on the other side…so go check it out. Instead of taking a vacation, shadow someone in the job or field that you would like to transition into because sometimes reality is very different from our presumptions. After shadowing that person and you find that indeed you do like the other company/occupational field, then the people you meet will be invaluable to networking. Furthermore, if there are job opportunities in the field or company you “shadowed” at, that might give you a leg up over the other candidates since you can ask for a recommendation from the person you shadowed. If they're happy with you of course, if you just walked in and started following them until they called the police then just cut your losses and look elsewhere, people generally like passion but passion that borders on obsession is kind of a big no-no in the business-world.

4. Comfort and Complacency

Finally let me point a bony finger straight at you (it’s not my finger, my fingers are full figured thank you very much) and ask: “Are you too comfortable and complacent to leave your job and you’re trying to find excuses to not do it?” Ultimately a hesitation to embrace change might be a result of fear: either fear of failure, criticism or not trusting in your abilities. No, I’m not going to go all motivational poster on you…fear is often disregarded as an emotion, but it should be validated as it often shows a significant apprehension.  You could feel under qualified to look elsewhere, something easily fixed with a few college level courses or even some free online courses. You could feel like you don’t have experience to more out of your job and if that is the case it might be worth just digging in your heels and sticking with your current job for a little bit longer.

See Also: What the Rosetta Mission can Teach us About Taking Risks

What do you think you should do when taking career risks? Let us know in the comment section below.

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