What do you do to manage your career? Earlier I wrote about doing a series of blog posts on what the basics are of managing your career in order to become a Cubicle Warrior — a person who survives, and perhaps thrives, in corporations.
Do you know what I think the most important part of managing your career is?
You can guess from the title and that nice little thumbnail there with dollars in the picture — finances.
You know the saying about banks always being willing to lend you money when you don”t need it and refusing to lend you money when you do need it, right?
I think there are some reasons for that outside of a balance sheet.
It’s psychological. People will do desperate things when they don’t have money in order to survive. They make irrational choices. They get into arguments with their spouse about doing something that is disliked (flipping burgers at those flipping restaurants when you are a manager laid off because your company can’t get it’s act together) versus the need to do something in order to make the house payment.
Desperation is a poor partner. Not having the money to survive a layoff until you can find another comparable job is a bad thing all the way around.
There is a vast difference between having to take a job and making a choice to take a job. The money in the bank gives you the choice.
Did you like eating vegetables you hated and being told you needed to anyway? I pushed my vegetables around the plate hoping the plate would magically make the vegetables go away. But they didn’t. Working in a job because you have to work in a job that is not to your liking is a recipe for a performance disaster.
Yes, it starts with money.
My personal recommendation is to have one year’s worth of take home dollars sitting in your favorite liquid investment. It could be a savings account. It could be a money market fund. It could be in a taxable investment account where the funds could be sold to make ends meet. It’s not a home equity line of credit or maxing out your bank cards. That increases your debt at the very time you can’t pay off the debt.
It’s not like it’s free money, of course, since you will be depleting savings and not contributing to your retirement accounts. But you are taking your dollars and using them to cushion your place between jobs and giving you the choice of positions back in the work force while maintaining your relationships at home and your control over what positions are accepted in your job search.
But, it is a year’s worth of dollars.
I know. It’s not easy to save a year’s take home pay with all the other things that people need to save money for to run their lives. But if you are going to be a Cubicle Warrior, it starts with the finances. For how long it takes to get a job in any economy, a year’s take home pay in the bank is a very good friend to have.