Shifting gears on your career

Shifting gears on your career

November 19, 2021

Few things will have greater impact on your financial future than the decisions you make about how you save and spend money. However, sound financial planning also requires that you carefully develop your capacity to produce income. No matter how well you save, if your income engine is stuck in neutral, your ability to create wealth will stall. It pays to give careful attention to your career.

The world economy is going through dramatic changes and so is the job market. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans left jobs nearly 20 million times between April and August of this year, a 60 percent increase over the same period the year before. Note that these numbers do not include retirements.

With so many employees leaving, employers are scrambling to find workers. At the end of September—the latest month for which we have data—employers reported nearly 10.5 million job openings or 1.4 jobs for every unemployed worker. As a point of reference, in January 2020, when the unemployment rate was at its lowest level in 50 years and the economy was booming, there were only 1.2 jobs available for every unemployed worker. If you are willing to act decisively, the current labor market may provide a unique opportunity to for you to supercharge your career. Here are some ideas you may want to consider.

Start with a candid self-assessment. A wise man once said, “If we keep doing what we have always done, we will keep getting what we have always gotten.” If you are not earning what you need to earn to live the life you truly want to live, you probably need to make some changes. So ask yourself: where are you now and where do you want your career to eventually lead? What is the next step on that path? Are you ready to take that step? Are you worth what you want to be paid? If not, are there skills you need to learn that will help you achieve your career goals?

For example, you may need to improve your communication skills. People with better communication skills are more upwardly mobile in their careers, sometimes advancing faster than peers with better credentials. You can learn better communication skills by watching great communicators in action and trying to emulate them. You can also learn by participating in a group like Toastmasters. Toastmasters will help you learn practical communication skills that will help you be more confident and comfortable expressing yourself in front of others.

Become an expert on the latest trends in your industry. Read newspapers and industry journals. Set up Google alerts on important topics and follow recognized thought leaders for your industry on social media. Learn enough to carry on meaningful conversations with industry leaders about things that matter most to them.

Have candid and constructive conversations with the appropriate leaders in your company. Let them know you want to discuss your career goals. Ask them how you can prepare yourself for greater responsibility in the organization. As you prepare for these conversations, make sure you are ready to hear what they have to say, even if it is painful, embarrassing or disappointing. Try to be sensitive to the political realities of your organization.

If you have never had this kind of conversation before, it will likely change the way the leaders in your organization see you. In the right organization—one that values employee initiative and rising leaders—it will open doors of opportunity. However, in the wrong organization, it may result in your eventual departure. Don’t worry too much about that. If your current employer doesn’t support your career aspirations, you need to find a better opportunity anyway.

Steven C. Merrell MBA, CFP®, AIF® is a Partner at Monterey Private Wealth, Inc., a Wealth Management Firm in Monterey. He welcomes questions that you may have concerning investments, taxes, retirement, or estate planning. Send your questions to: Steve Merrell, 2340 Garden Road Suite 202, Monterey, CA 93940 or email them to