• Courtney Kirschaum

3 ways to ruin a good career

Do you ever watch the Today Show, Court ? I only watch if it happens to be on someone else's TV,  but I know the weather guy Al Roker.

The Today Show hosts seem to rise to that level of "everyone knows who they are" like the Tooth Fairy or the IRS.

Al Roker sits in a real likable place between those poles.  Oddly, despite not being a regular Today Show viewer, I know he's been in two serious car accidents. After the accidents, driving was causing him serious anxiety, so he decided to take a defensive driving course.

The producers at the Today Show thought it would make a good segment. 

Cut to Al behind the wheel of an old blue Pontiac at the same driving school that trains Secret Service agents (cue: Mission Impossible Theme.) His first driving challenge is a Slalom exercise. Same as in ski racing. Replace snow with flat asphalt.  On his first go, he hits a cone and sends that thing flying through the air like it was shot out of a wood chipper. 

Their driving expert says, "Your hands naturally "steer" toward what your eyes focus on," in this case, the orange cone. Al's looking at the cone and trying to steer around it, see?

The advice the driving instructor gave Al next stayed with me. 

"Aim for the middle of the space between the cones, and you'll naturally steer around the obstacle and into that open space." 

Al does this while the Today Show producers add a James Bond theme and no cones go airborne this time.  In fact, it works like this for things, literally and figuratively. The next time you have to drive anything between two "cones," give it a try. Here are three cones that otherwise smart-driving professionals... send flying through the air or get stuck under their fender or otherwise knocked out of the way in some road-killish way.

1. Not knowing your hourly rate and the dollar value of your benefits.

Everyone treats salary like a big orange cone. Steer to salary alone and you'll wreck, if you haven't already. Not knowing the dollar value of your benefits means you don't know how much money you make and that means you're flying blind.  Without realizing it, this is one reason you balk when it comes to negotiating or asking for a pay raise. 

2. Never tolerate being underpaid. NEVER. EVER!

This is a career wreck happening in slow motion. If you're underpaid now, and waiting for someone to give you permission to do something about it: permission granted. This is 100% your responsibility, because the minute you realized it and didn't take action to do something about it, you accepted it, and that was the end of that.  I've said it before and I'll say it again: negotiation is a 100% learnable skill. You work hard, get that day-um moolah you earned!

3. Kiss your resumé (almost) goodbye

Resumé = flip phone. LinkedIn = smart phone.  Your LinkedIn profile is designed to get you discovered as in being your agent, getting your name out there Hollywood style. Your resume has not completely left the party, but if you don't get your LinkedIn profile styled and ready for the red carpet, you won't be accepting any awards. And even if someone gets your resume, the first place they  - and anyone who interviews you -  will go is to your LinkedIn profile to see:

  • What do you look like?

  • What have you done?

  • Is your profile any good?

  • How many people are you connected to?

  • What posts have you liked?

  • Have you written any articles? and on and on and on...

If your LinkedIn is a clunker, you'll be considered a bad driver even you're Lewis Hamilton.  #ForumlaOne  What they see there will green light you, or not.  Don't give all the love to your resumé.

Get some defensive driving for your career grab a Booster Shot.

And definitely grab my favorite free LinkedIn resources.

Thanks for riding shotgun with yours truly, Courtney P.S.  Don't be sad for your resume, did you know Leonardo Da Vinci invented the first one? Yep. Now that's old school.