11 Calculated Risks You Should Be Taking In Your Career

by Natalia Lusinski
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When it comes to your career, there are certain risks you could be taking, and should be taking, but you may not be doing so. For instance, are you at the job level you aspire to, and in a job that you love? According to several experts, the deliberate career risks you take can reap many rewards, so it’s best to take a chance and try them out. Yes, it may be a challenge, especially if you are comfortable where you are, though, deep-down, you know you want more.

“Personally, I think the riskiest career move you can make is not taking any risks at all,” Anna Wood, of feminist lifestyle platform Brains over Blonde and career coach/expert for Millennial women, tells Bustle. “You can dream and set goals all you want, but if you don’t actually take risks and execute on your plans, you’ll never achieve them.”

You probably know people like the ones Wood mentions — because being comfortable is comfortable, and getting out of that comfort zone is not easy. Perhaps you, too, used to be in a job rut at some point. But, the good news is, it’s never too late to pursue the job and career goals you want to achieve. To help get you started, here are calculated risks you should be taking in your career, according to experts.


Know When It's Time To Follow Your Dreams And Start A Business

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Some people work in a job that’s also their passion, yet others have a passion project on the side of their regular job. Sometimes, the latter becomes somebody’s main job — and involves a calculated risk to get there. David Bakke, career expert at Money Crashers, believes in following your passion and dreams. “This might involve becoming an entrepreneur or starting your own small business,” he tells Bustle. “If you plan it out right, it can be a life-changing event that could potentially benefit you financially and personally for years to come.”


Ask For New Responsibilities

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Even if you feel you have enough job tasks at the moment, it’s best to be proactive and take on even more. “Often, we don’t want new responsibilities because we won’t get paid more, or we don’t have the right skills,” Tatiana Rehmova, media relations at Enhancv, a web resume builder, tells Bustle. “However, I’d recommend to always take on new responsibilities and view them as opportunities to grow and learn new skills. The promotion might come at some point.”


Ask For More Support When You Need It

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Work colleagues can be a key part of advancing your career and taking calculated risks. Robin Schwartz, Professional in Human Resources (PHR) at MFG Jobs, suggests assessing whether you’re getting the support you need at work. “The right support is needed to be successful,” she tells Bustle. “When you’re faced with issues at work, you should feel comfortable having discussions with your supervisor and with your colleagues.” If you need better support at work, ask for it, she says. However, if you cannot find what you need, you may need to reevaluate whether the company is right for you. “If you find that you’re constantly experiencing problems with your manager and aren’t able to find solutions, it may be time to consider a new opportunity.”


Speak Up At Work, Even When You Know Your Opinion Is Unpopular


Say you’re in a work meeting and you have thoughts about a new work initiative; however, you don’t voice them — the room is full of intimidating people. But, you should. “A calculated risk is voicing your opinion, even when you know it is unpopular,” Bakke says. “If you work for a savvy and intelligent boss or supervisor, and your remarks are stated respectfully, he or she will listen, and you could find yourself in a better light.”


Say “Yes” To Things Outside Your Comfort Zone

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One key way to take more calculated risks at work is by saying “yes” more often than not. Even if you don’t want to take on a certain task — especially one that no one else wants to do — it’ll likely help you down the line and show you’re a team player. Sabine Hutchison, CEO & co-founder of Seuss Recruitment, Seuss Consulting, and Zocket, agrees. “Say ‘yes’ to special projects that others shy away from,” she tells Bustle. This includes taking on a role that you feel is a “shoe size” too big, she says, and out of your comfort zone. And, doing *anything* out of your comfort zone is a risk, but will be worth it once you prove you’re capable of executing it.


Negotiate Your Salary

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Negotiating your salary is another calculated risk to take in your career, and it’s also a necessary one. “I tell my clients to always negotiate their salary,” Wood says. Even if you accept the first offer you get — which you should not — the more your advance with the company, the more you will have to negotiate. So, it’s a good skill to learn early on, and worth the risk you take. If you get a “no,” you get a “no,” but at least you asked. “If you know you have the achievements and accomplishments to back up the request, oftentimes it will turn out in your favor,” Bakke says.


Don't Accept A Raise Or Promotion If It's Not Right

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As much as you may want a raise or promotion, is it the right type of promotion to get you to where you want to be? If it does not match up with your career goals, don’t readily say yes. “Do not be afraid to say no to a promotion,” Hutchinson says. Instead, you can “take a lateral move if it connects you with key stakeholders within the organization.”


Make Your Job Search A 360 Approach

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According to Mark Anthony Dyson, MAEd/AET, who has an award-winning career advice blog and podcast, you need to have a 360 approach when it comes to seeking advancement or a new job. “I think the mind shift needs to happen where you want to be found, too,” he tells Bustle. “Creating content showing the depth of your subject matter expertise helps you get found.”

For instance, in this day and age, electronically sending out resumes and writing personalized cover letters is not enough to stand out and set yourself apart from the other job seekers. So, in addition to you seeking them out, they should be able to find you and your work. For instance, if you’re a graphic artist, they can find your online portfolio. And, with platforms like LinkedIn being big ways companies recruit new employees, if you’re on it (hint: get on it!), now’s the time to get people to endorse your skills and write you recommendations. Overall, the more you have an online presence and platform that showcases your work and job skills, the more that recruiters can contact you even if you did not contact them first. Your work will speak for itself.


Quit A Job Before Having Another One Lined Up

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“One calculated risk is quitting a job before having another job lined up,” Rachel Kim, SoFi’s Career Strategist & Coach, tells Bustle. Of course, financially, you may think this move is *too* risky, but if a job is taking a toll on your physical and mental health, leaving it may have more benefits than not.

“Fear holds many of us back in taking more risks — in changing the status quo — because what if it’s the ‘wrong’ decision. But, on the flip side, what are you also losing out on when you don’t take those risks?” She recommends calculating the “return on risk” by looking at the pros and cons of taking certain risks, as well as the best-case scenario and worst-case scenario.


Take On Side Projects, aka Side Hustles

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These days, many people seem to have a side hustle, and sometimes they turn into their main hustle, too. For instance, Jobvite surveyed 1,500 job seekers and found that 25 percent of Millennial women ages 18-to-35 have a second source of income outside of their 9-to-5 job. Sixty-seven percent said they took on a side job for financial reasons.

However, side hustles have more benefits than just monetary ones. “Take on side projects to develop your skills and feed your passions,” Wood says. In addition, “when your growth someplace has stagnated, do not linger.” That way, you will have your side hustle to fall back on and perhaps develop into something more.


Switch Industries Vs. Companies When You're No Longer Challenged

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Sometimes, when there is no room for advancement at your current job, or if you no longer feel challenged or passionate about it, it may be time to seek out other opportunities. “Switching industries can definitely be calculated,” Rehmova says. To do this, she says there are a few steps you can follow. “First, outline your current skills, then skills you’d need in the new role and industry. Research some companies in the new industry and see what kind of culture they have. Then, create a really good resume that will showcase not only your best achievements, the right skills, but also personality, attitude, and motivation.”

Rehmova also advises attending events and conferences where companies from the new industry go. “Talk to them, and see what they think of your resume. Then, make changes if needed, and apply with confidence.”

There you have it. Although some of the above calculated career risks may be more challenging than others, it’s important to take some leaps when you're not happy at work or want to move forward. And if you need an extra push to help you, you can always find a career coach or mentor to guide you along the way.