Career Progress: Giving, Not Just Getting

It’s probably safe to assume that you want to progress in your career, and you’ve heard from experts that you need to focus significant time and energy on that goal if you expect to achieve it. Is there anything wrong with that approach?

Not if you don’t concentrate so hard on what you can get from others that you forget about the opposite side of the coin: giving. When you focus too intensely on what you hope to gain, you can become so self-absorbed that other people feel put off, distanced from you and not inclined to pursue what could otherwise be a mutually beneficial relationship.

Giving Support and Encouragement

A mountain climber often needs support from a buddy to reach the peak during a tough climb. Similarly, even a smart, career-focused professional occasionally needs support from others. You’re more likely to receive that support–sometimes without having to ask for it–if you make a habit of giving support when you become aware that it’s needed or useful.

What kind of support could you give as well as receive?

Here are just a few examples to get you started–I’m sure you can think of others!

  • Experience-based tips about how to avoid some of the pitfalls of a job search, especially if it’s a confidential search.
  • A thoughtful and discreet listening-ear when another job seeker needs to vent frustration, doubts, fears, and more.
  • Sharing information you receive or uncover in your own searching that doesn’t directly help you but might help the other person.

Inspiring Others in a Job Search

If you’re one of those people who consistently focuses more on giving than getting, you’re probably an inspiration to many people (even more than you might be aware of). It’s a contagious attitude, for one thing. The people you interact with during and after your own job search will almost certainly remember your giving attitude and might feel inspired to pass it along when they have a chance.

The beauty of this approach is that it doesn’t cost you anything you can’t afford to give. You don’t have to throw money at the people you help–all you need to do is offer information and ideas, plus a dose of moral support.

What if you don’t always get heartfelt thanks and credit for your contribution? Most of the time, I believe you will, but on those rare occasions when you don’t, chalk it up to forgettable experience and move on. The world won’t come to an end.

It Means Practice, Not Preaching

If this post sounds a bit preachy and Pollyanna-ish, you can choose to ignore it. I won’t be offended! I absolutely believe that in the long run, career-minded individuals who practice putting giving ahead of getting will reap the benefits of their effort.

Of course, it wouldn’t make good sense if you keep responding to someone who asks repeatedly for help and seldom, if ever, expresses appreciation for it. As a well-used saying indicates, “what goes around, comes around.” Those individuals will eventually discover that the “well” has dried up–and won’t have a clue why!

You, on the other hand, will very likely find your career progress taking an upward trajectory–and for good reason.


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