Five Ways To Leverage Your Current Job For Maximum Payoff In the Future

This article was written by Clay Staires, Tulsa Leadership Trainer, Motivational Speaker & Founder of Tulsa’s #1 Leadership Program, The Leadership Initiative.

Most college students pursue a job with one primary goal in mind… HOW MUCH DOES IT PAY? This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just being very narrow-minded (only thinking of how much you need right NOW). However, if you would be willing to let your brain expand to include some other AWESOME potential benefits of your current employment, you could actually use your job to gain an advantage over all the other college students that are clueless to what I’m about to share with you!

What if I told you that you could use your current job (even if it’s a crappy job) to gain a HUGE advantage over all your competition for jobs after graduation? What if I told you that it’s possible to use your current job (even if it’s cutting bait at the local Mr. Bass shop) to position yourself ahead of other job seekers and into the running for a HIGHER PAYING CAREER after college rather than moving back home, living with mom and dad and waiting for those big recruiters to find you working at the Piggly Wiggly?

It’s really possible! Most of you can do this IN YOUR CURRENT JOB! “I don’t have a job right now?” Then you’ll want to use this valuable information to make sure you say YES to the right job that will best prepare you for success in your future!

Here are the 5 Areas of Development that you MUST intentionally go after at your job to leverage it for maximum payoff in the future!

  1. Skill Development – these are hard job skills you’ll use to get a job and do the job as well as the soft skills of communication, problem solving and leadership skills.
  2. Marketplace Positioning – this is simply positioning yourself to be “hireable” by a larger company.
  3. Financial Sustainability – this is about you learning how to manage your paycheck as well as engaging your energy and creativity to create extra revenue streams without putting in extra time. “How can you increase your take home pay through creating increased profits for your company?”
  4. Personal Development – discovering your identity and God given design, your life purpose, your strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Servant Leadership – a vital ingredient of discovering your place in the bigger picture of life. Too often we see the universe revolving around “us”. To be great in life, you must learn how to be a servant and have compassion for others.



Use your job as a chance to prepare for your future success wherever you go! Being developed in the 5 areas as you launch out into the marketplace will give you a TREMENDOUS ADVANTAGE over your competition for the higher paying jobs. Higher paying jobs means you will have more cash to throw towards your school loans! Therefore, you get them paid off much quicker and gain the freedom to now choose how to spend your money rather than living in a DEBTORS PRISON! If you don’t know what I mean by “debtors prison”, fall into the trap of the status quo and you’ll soon find out! The Wall Street Journal is saying Debtors Prison is back and its just as cruel as ever!

Too many times we only focus on the first three (even #3 exclusively) and totally overlook #’s 4 and 5. We take a job for the money and “opportunity” because that’s where we feel the pressure. But we can easily miss the value of personal character development. This is a very common mistake in our culture and has led to some very serious consequences for our society – Leadership without Character.

Another mistake is that we totally focus on 4 and 5 and neglect the first 3 and we end up broke and driving our parents crazy!!! “When are you going to get a “serious” job?” or “Its time to get a “real” job” they say.

What if you were to began to look at your current job like this?

Consider this…

What “skills” can this job help me develop and how will I make sure that happens?

You will have to be deliberate with this. It won’t just happen. The Soft Skill Development of communication, problem solving, getting along with others and leadership are easy enough to highlight. But you’ll have to look for the Technical Skill Development opportunities to emphasis. These are skills in business, management, computer technology, marketing/advertising, equipment, photography, teaching, psychology, architecture, medical skills, nursing, finance, graphic design…. You may feel like you would never have time for this because you’re too busy! I felt that too. However, when you begin to think of your job as a LEVERAGING TOOL rather than just a paycheck, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to learn valuable skills to help you get out ahead of your competion.

What is the difference between Hard Skills and Soft Skills?

How will working for this company help me successfully move into my future and what I want to do?

Let’s face it, MOST (not all) YOUNG EMPLOYEES ARE LOOKING FOR A “START” NOT A “CAREER”. As an employee, you’ll want to talk with your manager in the interview about how working for them relates to your field of interest. You may have to stretch your brain a bit to connect Nuclear Physics with Burger King. But you can do it if you consider the soft skills that a Nuclear Physicist will need in the lab, working on a team, raising funds for research, etc. Most small companies are desperate for help in many areas of their business. Consider how you may help in other areas that you may be passionate about – marketing, IT, sales, psychology, nursing, teaching… If there are no hard skill development opportunities, you may just have to lean heavily on learning soft skills that so many of your “career seeking competitors” will not be getting. You can also get to know your customers and create networking opportunities. “Hmm, I wonder if Donald Trump goes to the same place for coffee each day like everyone else? What if you were behind the counter and got to know him? Do you think that may pay off to have Donald Trump as a reference?” Who are the people coming in to your company? Even in small towns there can be BIG business leaders.

How can this company create a “financially sustainable” future for me?

This is not just about getting more money to keep you from leaving and going to the competitor. This is about educating yourself about how money works and gaining incentives to increasing your wage. It’s possible to incorporate “salesmanship” into your employee culture that leverages every customer that walks in your door. These can be very small nuances that create revenues that have been untapped before. Ask your employer if you can incorporate these “sales strategies” and get rewarded from the profits! Remember, we are looking for more than just a job that hands us a paycheck. You’re looking to become partners with your company! We’re searching for ways where we can have a “stake” in the game rather than a SET SALARY whether I do good work or whether I’m lazy.

Also, if you are addressing each of these Five Developmental Areas, you are positioning yourself to maximize your potential for wealth as you step out into your financial futures.

What is the cost of living for a college student?

Is there someone who is committed to mentor you in personal development?

This is where you’ll want to get some specifics! Don’t settle for the answer of “yes, we focus on our staff development.” You want to have a PLAN to be developed or else it will never happen. Again, most owners/managers feel like they would never have the time to “develop” their employees. The businesses I’ve worked with felt the same way. However most have found that as they focus on employee development, their staff feel valued and they enjoy COMING to work and DOING a good job. If its not “scheduled”, I would question the dedication to your personal development. You may be open to it and “want” to do it, but unless it’s in the schedule, you are NOT committed to it. In other words, Personal Development must be a joint activity.

How will this decision put me in a position to serve others?

Contrary to what we really want to think, servant hood is not natural human nature! It can be learned, for sure, but it takes a deliberate, intensive and daily decision with a lot of help along the way. A choice to work at a company is a choice to be thrown into a furnace of responsibility and unavoidable servant hood. If you are working at a company and you struggle with submission to serve others, you’ll be toast in the furnace within the few weeks!!! Before long, you’ll be at the water cooler or in the break room verbally bashing your boss and feeling overworked and under paid. (And remember, this was the job you were begging for just a few months ago!) You will want to ask in the interview if this company can provide a “servant community”. This is extremely helpful in learning servant hood because EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING IT… hopefully.

Why Helping Others Makes Us Happy

Each of these 5 areas will have to be very deliberate on your part. Chances are very good that the company you currently work for doesn’t offer a lot of this. If they do, consider yourself very blessed and “drink deeply” of the great opportunities while you’re there.

For the rest of us, just learning the mindset of leveraging our current job to maximize our future will be enough to set us a part from our competition in the future.

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