Aqueelah Wheatley, M.S., LMFT
How to become a sound investment!
Updated: Nov 23, 2022
I was tapped by Gianna Prudente, a LinkedIn editor, to be a contributor in a newsletter that asked, How can young professionals develop skills on their own time? And how can they find employers who are committed to upskilling employees?
I think it is time for a change in perspective. One key piece of advice that has catapulted me away from hopping from one unfulfilling job to the next into four worthwhile streams of income is understanding and applying the concept that a person does not have to work the job that they do not apply for. Sounds simple right? But often, individuals look for work out of a sense of financial desperation and are so focused on selling themselves that they do not take the time to consider whether the role they are seeking is holistically the most beneficial opportunity for them. As an active therapist and life coach, I have spoken with clients that have admitted to fabricating core items such as their availability, job skills, and actual interest in the role itself. This is what I like to call a foot-in-the-door tactic. However, once that foot is severed, a person will continue to be left hobbling from one opportunity to the next. Why do that to yourself?????
When I departed from my role as a risk management specialist in 2018, I was initially devastated, and it was hard to see past the intense need to recover emotionally and financially at all costs. However, after I allowed myself to process the perceived loss, I was able to celebrate the opportunity to pursue a field that I was genuinely passionate about. I made a decision there and then that I would not apply for any more roles that were outside of my degree track. Did this new route take more time? Yes. However, I used that time to find ways to make myself an asset to future employers by seeking out training and certification opportunities online. The simple fact is that employers invest in candidates that invest in themselves, so being able to show an employer a genuine interest in building yourself outside of them will bode well at the negotiating table (Quoted in the Linkedin newsletter, Keeping the balance) However, this investment does not stop at YOU’RE HIRED. Orientation is only the starting line, not the finish.
In my experiences, I have found that organizations typically offer growth prospects at no cost to the employees, such as training modules, opportunities for certification, etc.; some employers even pay for or reimburse for additional college credits or degree achievement. One of the best ways to give back to yourself while working for someone else is to take the time to take the courses and grow your knowledge of your current role as well as the roles you may want to grow into.
The truth is that the days of having to commit to a traditional university experience are over. If you work days, go to school at night. Don’t have time to commute, go online. Make room for self-improvement; make room for yourself! As a full-time therapist, life coach, Ph.D. student, and mother of three, I can honestly say there are enough hours in a day, and when it's not, there's always coffee.
The last nugget of advice I would lend to anyone seeking an employer committed to upskilling employees is to leave the need to be hired at the door. Employers can smell the desperation in an interviewee, and with that, a majority of bargaining power is lost with the first whiff of excessive perspiration. Just like in any relationship, employers value the chase. They want to feel they are getting a catch, not catching a cold. Make them feel wanted, yes, but don’t drool over them like the last Krispy Crème. If self-care is important to you, tell them so. If having weekends off with family is imperative for a greater work-life balance, then scream it from the rooftops! VALUE YOURSELF!! Value your time and value your energy. Remember, interviews are not one-sided, so don’t make the goal solely about getting the job; make the goal about finding enhanced fulfillment in the employment you seek and see if that change in perspective doesn’t change your life.