Back when I first started my career, I used to work for a boss who was repulsed by the idea of guarantees. [And of course, I like guarantees. :-)]
So when he would put forth some requirement or program that we were to pass on to our staff or our customers, I would ask him, “is that a guarantee” or “what is the guarantee” that goes along with this new thing?
Now, I know what you might be thinking, but honestly I didn’t “just” do it to bug him (which of course it did). I asked because those of us who had to communicate with the staff or customers were going to be asked that. People want to know what you are committing to, especially when you are rolling out something to them. In other words, what’s your end of the deal? Can they rely on you and for what?
But nonetheless, whenever I asked this type of question, for whatever reason, it bugged him. I suspect it was because he didn’t want to be held responsible for making one, or for making one he couldn’t keep, but he would always respond with:
“In life, there are no guarantees.”
Umm, no, I’m pretty sure there are. (But apparently no one had ever told him that!)
A lot of people are like my old boss….afraid to make guarantees. This is especially true when it comes to their approach to career management and ultimately advancement.
They want the company and the recruiter and the network contact to take action…to be persuaded and convinced…but they don’t want to back up all of their personal branding that they worked so hard to craft with any kind of guarantee.
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep.”
We’ve all heard this old axiom over and over again, and it’s true. It’s not wise to promise something you can’t deliver, but that in and of itself does not make promises something to avoid! (I’m pretty sure my spouse wants me to make and keep promises; it’s called a commitment.)
I’m really convinced that one reason many professionals struggle in their career advancement is because of an unwillingness to make a guarantee. As a result, leadership isn’t quite certain of them even when the work history is good and the results are there.
Let’s face it…we all like some level of guarantee, and employers are no different.
Now, I’m not suggesting you “wed” yourself to the job or that you go overboard and promise the moon, but you should back up all your talk with both examples (work history) and integrity (what is your guarantee). After all, that really is what a guarantee is…integrity.
And integrity is more than just being nice and showing up for work with a good attitude. Oh, and not stealing things. Integrity is a firm adherence to a moral code. In other words, we know what you stand for and when you say “yes” it means “yes”.
Here’s where it gets tricky. And you might be thinking it too…
Employers don’t always make good on their promises….even when you make good on yours.
TRUE. Very true. But we’re talking about YOUR career advancement, keeping that goal in mind, not about the unfair world we live in. If you stop being willing to offer up the integrity with the work history, you ultimately lose the most. Future employers aren’t going to be understanding about your fear of commitment or unwillingness to guarantee your work.
They’re going to want to be sure of you.
And this gets tougher as we get more experienced (aka older) because we’ve lived through all the false promises and broken guarantees. We are gun shy, and we’d like the company to be the one making the guarantees, not us. But if you think of your professional career as its own business with you as the product, then you realize that all businesses must stand by their integrity and back it up with some kind of guarantee. If they don’t, even with the best product in the world, they struggle to make the sale. The trust factor isn’t there, and all the data to support their claims won’t clinch it for them.
So what is your guarantee?
When you are putting together your elevator pitch or looking at your “personal brand,” what are you willing to stake your reputation on? Will you put it in writing?
For me and my team, it is that we guarantee that we will make technical career advancement simple in a complicated job search world. From your tech resume to your promotion/consulting portfolio to your recruiter engagement to your ongoing career management, we make each complicated step simple and pain-free. Your Technical Career Advancement: Transformed.
What guarantee can you make?