We all want to believe that the company we work for has our best interests in career development at heart. We want the company to be our friend, our rock, our resource. We want trust. But the truth is, when it comes to your company, you are the resource. And the only thing you can really trust is yourself.
There are some rare companies out there that truly care about their employees. Yours might be one of them. That doesn’t mean you can let your guard down for any length of time. Loyalty used to be an important thing, but as employee tenure at different jobs has shrunk from long-term to medium-term and even shorter, and as layoffs and cutbacks become more common, you’ll have to look out for yourself.
Here are a few reasons to help convince you to remember you are number one.
1. Loyalty is a joke.
Imagine this scenario: you work late, come early, put in all the extra time and effort—thinking that will be rewarded. Then the wind changes and you’re tossed out on your very loyal rear end. Your employer gets to walk away thinking itself a shrewd and prudent business, and you’re left devastated. You should have kept your eye on the ball.
2. HR is likely not there for you.
You may think Human Resources are there for you—to help you, protect you. Think again. HR is really a mechanism to handle paperwork and payroll—and sometimes training or morale-building—so managers can concentrate on their own work. And though they are there to try and settle disputes, they will side with the company every time. They’re paid by the higher-ups, remember. Not by you.
3. You never know when…
A layoff or a merger or even just a wholesale staff-culling might be just around the corner. Don’t stop looking for a job just because you found one. Keep your feelers out there. Keep a few opportunities on your back burners at all times. You’ll never know when you might need one.
4. They need you more than you need them.
This may seem contradictory, but if you keep this mindset, you’ll be able to adapt better when things go awry. If you get stuck in a position and you start feeling desperate—and scared you might not be able to find another job quickly—then start looking to build your confidence and flexibility back up.
5. You’re never valued enough.
Again, there are outliers here. You might be valued every bit as much as you should be at your current job. But if you aren’t—and you start to feel as though you’ve faded into the wallpaper, or worse, you’ve become a doormat, remember that you should be looking out for you. Find yourself a better opportunity and make a change.
6. Opportunity doesn’t knock often.
If you’re so loyal that you find yourself passing up opportunities because your boss “needs” you or your company can’t do without you? Danger sign! Of course they need you. But you are almost always replaceable. And they will remember that when convenient for them—and most likely inconvenient for you. Make your path your priority instead.
Loyalty can cloud your perception of how things are going in your department. Don’t let it. Keep your eyes open for signs that your company is imploding. Get out with the first rats, rather than the ones that go down with the sinking ship.
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