Beware: The Complacent Career!

They say that “A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss”.  I believe that to be a fitting adage when speaking about one’s career.  In the interest of relating this post to my own career- I’m going to talk specifically to recruiting.  But it’s important to realize that while I’m relating this to my own career- this pertains to all careers regardless of what profession you’re in.

In recruiting it’s so very important to have standardized processes and routines.  Successful recruiters create daily schedules that they strictly adhere to.  If you aren’t structured as a recruiter, you’ll quickly find yourself overwhelmed with your work and “in the weeds” so to speak.  Sticking to a routine allows us to prioritize our tasks and systematically cross them off one by one.  There are countless books, articles, blogs, trainings, etc. dedicated to this topic.  I couldn’t agree more with the idea.  When I rely on my old school “To Do” list written on a  notepad I’m much more effective.  I firmly believe it’s important for us as recruiters to be set in our ways and follow a routine that works for us.

However, I am writing this post to point out some important side notes to be aware of.  While being set in our ways is a good thing in terms of structure, organization, and daily routine- it can be a bad thing for our overall career growth.  Far too often I’ve seen recruiters who are successful with these standardized processes fall into the trap of becoming complacent in their roles.  You can blink and 5 years go by, and you’re still sitting in the same chair filling the same orders.  Before I go further into this, I want to make sure that I clarify myself here.  If you’re a long term recruiter (like I am) and you’re reading this you may take offense to me suggesting that recruiters who have been in their roles for awhile become complacent.  I’m certainly not implying that long term recruiters are complacent, rather I’m suggesting that doing the same thing day in and day out can lead to a complacent career.

My comment about sitting in the same chair filling the same orders 5 years from now is more of a warning to keep pushing yourself.  It’s far too easy for a recruiter to grow complacent and just wait on reqs to come in.  After awhile doing the same job day in and day out becomes second nature to us.  This is how our careers become stagnant and grow the proverbial moss that the rolling stone warned us about.  Its much harder, albeit much more rewarding, to push ourselves towards goals that promote career growth.  Take your daily to-do list and add a few bullet points on there each week that are actions aimed towards your career goals.  Whether that’s taking on additional responsibilities at work, asking for a more diverse work load, working towards a promotion, networking/learning from company leaders and mentors, or even something as simple as writing blogs.  Make a conscious effort to keep pushing yourself forward.  Very rarely will your career have the benefit of someone else pushing  you to grow without you first showing interest.  Chances are that your clients/hiring managers would be happy to have you fill their openings for a long time to come, because you’re good at that and you fulfill their needs.  Let’s face it, they might even like to see your career with a little moss on it, that means all of your focus goes to them and you’re not spending your time in other areas outside of their business.  There’s a comfort level there.

For me, that comfort level goes both ways.  My clients/hiring managers become comfortable with me and in turn I become comfortable with them and their work.  I love my current role, and I tend to be pretty efficient at it.  It’s not too unrealistic for me to imagine being in this same chair 5 years from now still doing the same (comfortable) work.  It’s fun work, it’s challenging work, it’s interesting work AND I have great hiring managers to boot.  “Current Me” is very pleased with this role and I have no real complaints.  So why change that?  Why mess with how content Current Me is?

The reason I’m forced to keep pushing myself is because, despite how comfortable Current Me is, there’s an unavoidable warning coming from “Future Me”.  Future Me is screaming and shouting for me to keep pushing myself and to aspire to do more.  Future Me knows that by settling into a routine that doesn’t challenge me I am putting the brakes on my career growth.  Future Me knows that if he is going to be happy and have all the things he wants for him and his family, then Current Me needs to push hard.  I have to work daily to not only complete the tasks at hand, but also find a way to grow myself professionally and work towards my career ambitions.  That is a tough task to step back and look at, because I already work so hard to complete my current job.  How am I expected to find more time to pursue my career growth areas of interest like: Staffing Strategy, Forecasting, Operations and Leadership?

The answer is fairly simple:  one step at a time.  By adding 1-2 tasks each week that relate to my career growth I have turned that into part of my routine.  I have integrated those ambitions into what I do every day, and they are now one in the same with my routine tasks.  Future Me and Current Me are working together nicely (although Future Me still won’t give Current Me any hot investment tips).  Excelling at my current role, coupled by my continued pursuit for advancement has positioned myself nicely for career growth.  It hasn’t been an easy path for me, and I’m sure it won’t always be easy for you either.

To mimic how I opened this post, I’ll close it with another great adage: “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize”.  Don’t slow down and allow your career to slip into a comfortable mediocrity.  When you catch yourself sitting back and relaxing, lean forward and push a little harder.  It’s not always fun, and sure…sometimes you’ll want to fight yourself…but in the end you’ll realize that Future You was right all along and your persistence was worth the struggle.

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Please send any questions or comments to askrecruitermann@gmail.com.  Be sure to also follow me on twitter @RecruiterMann23