In our searches for communications and marketing positions, the term “risk taker” is often used when Chaloner clients describe what kind of people they are looking for. We rarely see the phrase “play it safe” in career advice columns or job descriptions. I am impressed with candidates who take on new challenges in their careers. It might be moving to a new employer for greater opportunity or into a new industry, or it might mean taking on new responsibilities for the same company. It might be going back to school to gain new knowledge or being an entrepreneur. No one who doesn’t have the confidence to take that kind of risk gets to the leadership roles. We find that the best candidates are both curious and courageous – the characteristics of risk-takers.
Here are some career risks I encourage you to take.
Risk imperfect decisions:
Often there is not time or resources or information to make a perfect decision. Taking action when you are 90% ready is a risk frequently worth taking.
Participate in meetings, have opinions, ask questions. Although most of us don’t like being criticized or even disliked, conformity is not a great career builder. You will never get ahead by just going along.
Risk admitting you don’t know:
Don’t fake it. It’s much better to admit you don’t know something and then go find the answer or information.
Risk promoting yourself:
Many of us are not natural self-promoters, but it is often worth the risk of disapproval to point out what you contributed.
Risk speaking up:
Conversations and face-to-face meetings are much more effective than email or texts. Even in difficult conversations such as salary negotiations, or performance reviews, it’s better to be candid.
Risk being honest:
When dealing with difficult issues such as explaining why you left a position or were laid off. It’s always better to be prepared to address it directly and move on to more positive topics.
We recently worked with a candidate who was given bad career advice and took a poor risk by not being transparent about current employment status. By waiting until the very last moment to reveal that she had left her last job months before, that candidate lost out on a fabulous opportunity – a result that didn’t have to happen.
If you are considering new opportunities and have questions about the process or how to present yourself, ask a qualified recruiter whom you have added to your network.
Chaloner, founded in 1979 as Chaloner Associates, is a national executive search firm that focuses on recruiting mid- to senior-level communications, public relations, marketing and investor relations professionals.