You’re young, ambitious, and intelligent – the best thing produced since sliced bread. Unfortunately, your e-mail is dry, your phone is silent (not by choice), and your LinkedIn page views are descending faster than a stock on Wall Street. Obviously you recognize your potential and the rest of the world has some catching up to do.
The lack of attention to your talents can send you into a spiral of frustration, confusion, and desperation. All three are a deadly combination that can taint your self-confidence and subliminally place a banner on your forehead that says “I’m wide open,” to predators that are waiting for their chance to strike you when you are not able to utilize your thinking cap efficiently.
The world is a dog-eat-dog environment and the only difference between the human species and the animal species is that your predator might be in a three-piece suit – or wear a really great pair of heels.
When you are young or early in your career journey, you steadily foster an appetite for success – by whatever standard you have established for yourself. Ambition can sometime drive you to your greatest dreams or worst nightmares. The desire to succeed can provoke the word “yes” to leave your mouth before you have time to fully understand the benefits or risks that are in front of you. Others will sense your eagerness and use it to their benefit, while leaving you oblivious to their true intentions.
How do you distinguish a legitimate career booster from a time waster? How can you decide if someone is out to use you or take you to the next level?
Before you devote yourself to a new project, learn how to identify opportunities that will benefit you in the long-run:
1. If it’s not on paper, it’s only an idea – Many people make the mistake of jumping on the bandwagon of ideas. Ideas can invoke high-energy and excitement; however, those things are not conclusive of all elements needed to make a business, campaign, or a project a success. If someone approaches you with a proposition without a concrete, tangible, and carefully detailed plan, politely decline. The premise of any success is to set a foundation and you don’t want to be a part of something that goes with the flow. When others are serious about their endeavors, you can often read in between the lines. Then again, if they don’t have their vision in writing you won’t have to do much reading at all.
2. Show me the money – Sometimes an unpaid offer can be one of the best. When someone offers you an opportunity that is unpaid, don’t reject it immediately – especially if you are still growing in a specific area. Determine how your contributions will be mutually benefiting to you and another party. Ask the person how they can help you grow, whether it is introducing you to someone of prestige in their network or writing you a LinkedIn recommendation. If you’re at a point in your career where you perform superior work, it is perfectly acceptable to inquire about compensation. You’re an expert and you deserve it! Be on the lookout for red flags; if you know someone is paying others for their talents but wants to use your services for free do not waste your time.
3. Credibility is everything – Before saying yes to a new venture, be sure to conduct your research. Others will package their dream and make it attractive –don’t fall victim to the hype. Understand who you are working with and see what others have to say about their personality and work ethic. If someone is masking a shaky reputation, be cordial and avoid doing business with them.
At some point in your life, someone may have told you to capitalize on every opportunity that knocks. Sometimes you have to glance through the peephole and let that “opportunity” continue to make noise. Do not begin the habit of saying “yes” to everything that comes your way. Save your time and talents from experiences that can turn into regret stories instead success stories.
Have you experienced any career predators in your professional journey? Know anyone that should have kept the door closed when an opportunity knocked? Don’t be selfish with your story, tweet me at @TheWriteGirl_ or comment below.
Whitney L. White is a young blogger who is fascinated with the upward career mobility of young people. She realizes that mistakes are a part of your career journey and hopes to use her experiences to steer you away from career blemishes.