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Six Fatal Mistakes to Avoid While You Still Have a Job

By Joseph Lee

Good for you if you currently have a job. But NEVER take it for granted that you'll have a job forever! You could lose this job because you have lost favour with your boss or your boss boss. You could lose your job because the company you work for is filing for bankcruptcy. You could lose it because the company has been bought over by a competitor and your position has been taken over by someone else from the acquiring company. Fire, flood, changes in government regulations and many other reasons and circumstances could cost you your job.

This article highlights 6 fatal mistakes most people make while they still have a job and why they should avoid them.

FATAL MISTAKE 1 - Did Not Lock-In Credit Cards & Loans

Martinez was frustrated and fuming. The bank officer had just informed him that his loan application was rejected. He was counting on this loan to pay for much-needed equipment to start his new venture. Worse still"he was told that his new credit card application was also rejected. Reason: He did not have a job. So he was considered a credit-risk based on the bank's credit policies.

Only two months ago Martinez had left the company he had worked as a Warehouse Manager for six years. He used to receive mail from banks inviting him to apply for one of their credit cards. Even pre-approved card applications"all he had to do was to agree!

IF ONLY he had applied for the loan and the credit card before he resigned.

Don't make the same mistake. A loan, a credit card and a line of credit will always be handy when you start or run a business - especially on those low or no cash inflow days.

FATAL MISTAKE 2 - Did Not "Improve Self"

Have you tried cutting a piece of wood with a blunt saw? If you have you'll understand what Stephen Covey the author of "7 Habits of Highly Effective People meant when he used the phrase "Sharpen the Saw".

What a difference a sharp saw makes in the results. Not only is the sawing effort much easier, but also the sawn pieces look smoother and cleaner. Just like a saw, a skill is just a tool. Whether it's in basic writing or public speaking or photography alternative nutrition"computer repair"carpentry"or another skill, sharpening a skill produces better results.

You can sharpen a skill by taking a course, reading a couple of books, learning from a mentor or from years of doing it. Soon"you'll be an expert in that skill. With some imagination and guidance, you'll be able to make some money with this skill.

Sharpening the saw is not limited to sharpening a skill. It includes other areas of self-improvement such as:

  • becoming a member of a professional body (example: if you're a manager in your company, apply to be a member of the Institute of Management).

  • completing the last couple of examinations and projects to get that degree (which you've been procrastinating for too long).

  • learning a new skill from scratch (in an area that you've always dreamed about).

While you have a job, you have opportunities to use your skills and sharpening them. For example, to sharpen your writing skills, you could volunteer to be the editor of your organization's monthly newsletter. Or to improve your computer repair skills, you could come to the office on a weekend to repair some of your company's damaged computers.

It would also be almost certain that you'll be admitted as a member of your professional institute if you're currently working in a related position. For example if you're working as a Cost Accountant, don't you think the Association of Cost Accountants will easily admit you as a member when you've clearly stated your position and job functions in your application? You'll most likely be rejected or at best appeal to be a member if you do not have a job.

When you're out in the "real world (my meaning of this is the world outside the "comfort zone of a job) and perhaps starting or building a business, you will be so pressed for time in the race to make your first buck to stop the leaking money bucket of limited savings"that it is unlikely that you'll be in the state of mind to sharpen your saw. At that time"talking to customers, meeting a supplier or simply checking your inventory will most probably be a higher priority than attending a class on auto repair techniques (for example).

You'll be saying to yourself: "If only I did it"." while had a job.

FATAL MISTAKE 3 - Did Not Put Money Aside for a "Rainy Day"

My beloved mum always reminded me that if I spend one dollar and five cents for every dollar I earn, I'll end up broke"But if I spend ninety five cents and saved five cents for every dollar earned, then I'll have money in reserve when a need ("a rainy day") arises.

How true it is because there will always be rainy days in your lifetime. And the bigger rainy days will be the months after you quit or lost your job. Then you'll begin to feel the financial pinch on expenses that you never used to think about while you were working for someone else and they were paying the bills.

Most people make calls from their work phone, use company equipment (such as the company photocopier, laser printer, mobile phone, comb binder and computer) for personal purposes and the even "luckier ones get petrol and parking reimbursements.

When you no longer have these benefits, then you'll begin to realized how much money comes out of your pocket when you've to pay for them.

Put aside money while you're still receiving a paycheck. Don't wait until it's too late. It's much easier and less stressful to quit your job and to start something when you've adequate money in reserve.

FATAL MISTAKE 4 - Did Not Have a Systematic Strategy for Developing "People Assets"

"People Assets are defined here as your valuable contacts and relationships that can be leveraged to generate income.

A good source of valuable contacts is your job. Besides office colleagues, you'll get to meet customers, suppliers and service providers. Depending on your position in your organization, you may have the opportunity to attend seminars, travel overseas and participate in trade shows - with more exposure to all kinds of people.

Outside your job, you'll also have many opportunities to meet people. In your neighbourhhood, religious organization, social club, PTA, your mechanic, hairdresser, plumber, former classmates, etc. etc.

Therefore it's not the lack of exposure that causes most people to fail to develop people assets".BUT most people fail to develop "people assets due to some of these reasons:

  • Sloppy with gathering and recording details of all the people met. (Details should include much more than just the person's name, contact details and company name. It should also include the contact's interests, spouse and children's names, favourite food, car he/she drives, etc. etc. Gathering these information is an ongoing process and requires a contact management tool).

  • Did not develop relationships due to unwillingness to invest time on new contacts (by having activities together like playing games, going for family outings, trips, get-togethers, drinks).

  • Did not take the opportunity to go the extra mile to help others while you had a job (and you were in a position to do so). The good feelings and goodwill that are generated from your acts of service are assets that you could "cash in as returned favours long after you're no longer in the company.

Your strategy is to convert as many of these contacts to "people assets as possible from a casual ("Hi and "Bye") level to the F-Level (that is, the Friendship level) where both parties can mutually call upon each other at anytime for a conversation. From the F-Level nurture these "people assets to the Relationship level (or R-Level). At this level people will go out of their way to help each other. Finally, the highest level is the P-Level where people become business, social or life Partners with one another.

FATAL MISTAKE 5 - Wasted Too Much Time on Unproductive Activities

When you have a good job especially one that pays you more than your total monthly expenses, it is very human to feel a sense of security. There is no urgency in your money situation. You tend to "enjoy life"- indulging in all kinds of activities many of which are unproductive as far as money is concerned. These unproductive activities include such time wasters as"

  • frequently hanging around entertainment joints (like pubs, night clubs, discotheques);

  • indulging in unhealthy vices (such as gambling);

  • talking, talking, talking with the same group of friends during working hours;

  • going for lunch with the usual clique instead of with different people to nurture new relationships. (Imagine going for lunch say 3 days a week for four years with the same people. This equates to over six hundred lunches. How many other people could you have spent those time with?);

  • talking on the phone for too long;

  • internet chat, net surfing, etc.;

  • behaving like you've made it and you're on holiday during company-paid trips - instead of learning about the local market, meeting local business people, gathering local business information.

The key word here is "moderation". You are not expected to forego every little joy of life completely or to indulge only in actions with an ulterior motive. Life would be rather boring then.

Just remind yourself that time is limited and precious. Every person has 168 hours a week. What you do with these hours while you still have a job could impact your life when you don't have a job.

FATAL MISTAKE 6 - Did Not Start and Develop a Parallel Career

A parallel career is here defined as something you do while you still have a job with the end goal of working for yourself. It's not merely a sideline, second income or part-time job. If you take on a sideline or a second job just to supplement your primary income and your end goal is NOT to change career...NOT to work for yourself"then this sideline or second job is NOT a parallel career.

Many people who had left or lost their jobs look back with regret. They missed opportunities and made mistakes. How they wished they did not bask in the sunshine of a false sense of security with a job. They should have started and developed a parallel career while they still had a job. Their career change transition from employee to entrepreneur would have been a less stressful one because they had the "comfort of a paycheck.

About The Author
Joseph Lee

Infopreneur, Writer, Engineer and Consultant. Former company high-flyer - shares tips, ideas and information on how to avoid these fatal mistakes and to start considering a parallel career at:


Careers & Employment
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