By Leigh Creighton Bond • November 23, 2019•Issues, Mentoring and Networking
The best career advice -- “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” -- does not even have an author. We’ve all heard the phrase, perhaps for different contexts, including dating and investing. Yet, I most appreciate the versatile nature of the idiom when applied to my nontraditional career path and future aspirations.
First, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is a sound approach when seeking opportunities. When I talk to a mentee in the middle of their job search, they often share a focus on one category of positions. As a mentor, I believe it is my responsibility to introduce novel approaches to their job search, including positions and scenarios they may not have thought about. I have a lot of respect for someone with a beeline approach to their dream job. Plus, I do not want to be a “dream killer” or introduce negative thinking into a stressful job search; yet, a diverse set of quality applications -- in different “baskets” fosters a confident and creative job applicant. Imagine you are searching for a new opportunity, but you get a few rejections all from similar positions. The rejections could diminish one’s confidence in their qualifications for their ideal position while an applicant with a more diverse set of applications is less likely to foster any insecurities about their qualifications for a specific role.
The soundness of the advice also applies to someone who is not seeking opportunities and feels stable in their career. Unfortunately, I know a lot of people who just “go to work” and then tend to the rest of life’s responsibilities -- kids, home improvement, health, etc. Of course, I get it. It is hard to find the time to volunteer and one may ask themselves, what’s the point of networking if they’re not looking. There’s a problem when all of your “eggs” are in your current job aka “basket” . There are obvious scenarios, including layoffs, getting fired, or being forced to resign due to health or family. Less obvious, is the notion that when you do decide you want to explore new opportunities, you have to start at ground zero. Spreading your “eggs” out looks like building relationships with people in industries where your skills and experience would transfer or engaging in ongoing or occasional volunteer opportunities to experiment with different skills and communities. Instead of asking yourself what’s the point of doing more than going to work, ask yourself how would you distinguish two applicants with five years of experience with your current employer?
I'll end by using myself as an example. In addition to working for a reproductive health care provider and nonprofit organization, I also participate in ongoing volunteer opportunities and occasional consulting or temporary contract roles. As a creative yet analytical mind, I enjoy engaging my mind in several different ways -- from my source of income to community service and beyond. While I "do more than work" because I enjoy it, I do enjoy the added benefits of having a larger network of professionals to reach out to and also having people reach out to me for opportunities outside of jobs. I hope you will consider diversifying your "baskets" too because diversity reaps diversity and you might be surprised what opportunities appear when you step outside of your "basket."