Career Opportunity Costs - What are Missed Opportunities Costing You?By Georgia Adamson
Unless you have unlimited money and unlimited time—and who does?—the choices you make may be costing you dearly in terms of your career. Managers and business owners usually understand the principle that says if you spend time and money on one thing, you are, in effect, choosing not to spend it on something else—and that something else is a missed opportunity. Individuals involved in doing their own career management (or letting it slide and not doing it) don't always pay attention to this important principle.
That can be a costly mistake.
If, for example, you spend hours each week browsing online job boards in hopes of finding that perfect job you're sure is out there for you, you can't also spend that time building and strengthening your network of contacts—people who may be able to put you in touch with others who can pave the way, directly or indirectly, to just such a job opportunity.
Here's another example: You know you should be updating your resume because you've been noticing signs and hearing remarks that suggest undesirable changes might occur in your company in the not-too-distant future, but you decide it can wait for a while and take off for a weekend at the lake instead. Not that a relaxing weekend is a bad thing—it's simply a choice that means not doing something else, and you might encounter repercussions from that choice, such as not having your resume ready when you suddenly need it.
Bad Assumptions vs. Shrewd Career Management
You might not be making the mistake of assuming that because your role in the company has been a critical factor in its past success, you'll be the last to go if there's an adverse change. However, you might be guilty of other mistaken assumptions that could prove just as costly.
So what's the value of weighing your options carefully—and often? First, you minimize your potential exposure to downside risk and the corresponding cost of being forced into a job or career change when you're unprepared and have a lot at stake. Second, you maintain a sharper, more effective focus on career management that can increase your ability to take advantage of new opportunities without losing valuable time—and possibly money as well.
Conscious or Unconscious Career Choices
A key point to consider is whether you are making choices consciously or unconsciously and whether you base your conscious choices on a sound foundation that takes into account what you might be giving up as a result. (It's more difficult to control the unconscious choices, since you don't know you're making them!)
For example, if you're offered a position as Vice President of Marketing with a growing high-tech company in another state at a much bigger salary than you're currently earning, many people might say you'd be crazy not to grab it. Suppose, though, that your two kids are doing well in their junior and senior years in high school and your spouse has recently launched a small business that he or she has dreamed of for a long time. Suddenly, the choice becomes far from clear-cut. Any decision you make needs to be well thought-out, with full awareness of the costs each potential decision will involve. Other people's needs and preferences must now be considered.
When you fail to pay careful attention to your choices, they become unconscious, by-default situations that could cost you more in missed career opportunities than you ever intended to pay. Don't let yourself fall into that trap. Choose your opportunities consciously and carefully—and make sure the missed opportunity costs are ones you can live with!