So What Happened????!!! Career Complacency Hurts

Something I hear a lot from job seekers recently is that they have never (ever) had to actually look for a job before. They sound completely shocked. And hurt, too. And I’ll actually say it: They sound like they’ve experienced a loss of entitlement.

So what happened?

The problem isn’t that they either left a job, lost a job, or got laid off. The magic “ingredient” is much bigger than the fact that they are no longer working at the company.

The truth is that many people become completely complacent about building their career while they are actually working.

Are they keeping their networks vibrant and up-to-date? Are they adding new contacts and cultivating authentic relationships?

Have they kept up on their on-the-job knowledge?

Are they still members of key industry organizations?

Are they engaged and involved as a volunteer?

We all know the answer to this one…

“I got too busy.”

Unfortunately, this is not an excuse. Look at the people who are most successful in their careers, and you’ll see busy professionals who continue to balance all of these factors in addition to getting their jobs done.

Today’s economy does not invite complacency; it requires personal advocacy.

career complacency and goal setting

The “What happened?” question really lies within yourself. What happened is that you allowed yourself to get consumed by work and eventually forget to take care of yourself and nurture the seeds that will allow your career to grow… and that means tending to the garden of networking contacts to keep those crops flowering. Instead, they dried up; neglected.

This isn’t easy to hear, but every time I ask clients what they have done to keep their personal career advocacy in motion while they’ve been on the job, the answer is the same every time. Again, they got too busy.

What are YOU doing to push your envelope? How many people have you met this week? How are you keeping yourself relevant? Where are you building your leadership skills?

All it takes is setting forth some goals to keep these areas active – then executing. Your career co-exists quietly and consistently alongside your actual job… it’s what you do to keep it going and active that matters in the long run.

And if you do, then you won’t be asking questions like “What happened?” because you have already bypassed the complacency and replaced it with advocacy.


Photo By Rodrigomorante (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons