It’s time to start “requalifying” for your job each year

Two female engineers working at a whiteboard

I was listening to the Tim Ferriss Show awhile back and on this episode, his guest was Harley Finkelstein, the President of Shopify.

At some point during the interview, the idea of requalifying for your job each and every year came up.

At Shopify, “particularly on the leadership team, [everyone] has to requalify for their job every single year.”

Harley Finkelstein

Mic drop.

I had never heard of this concept before, but it is a brilliant one – especially for a startup.

This idea of requalifying for your job from like a philosophical perspective has just been incredibly valuable because it means that if I grow at the same pace of Shopify, I still may not necessarily be the right person for next year.

Harley Finkelstein – President of Shopify

To me, as a former CEO, this was something I wish that I had thought of.

Talk about a great way to run your business.

You bring in A-players, and then you ensure that you have a mechanism to make sure that they stay A-players, and are leveling up their careers as the company grows.

It. Is. Brilliant!

But this is not just a useful paradigm for startup companies to follow.

Requalifying for your job – a simple philosophy to put your career on steroids.

I mean think about it. Anyone, in any size company can do this.

Because the last thing you want to do in any job is get stagnant. You don’t want to be doing the same job, the same way, year after year.

Even if your title is the same, even if your role is the same, continuously learning and improving is the single best way to guarantee yourself a big raise, promotion or job on the open market.

You create value where others aren’t.

Anyone, in any size company’s goal should be to requalify for your job each year.

Ok, so the next question is how?

How do you requalify for your job each year?

You’ve got to put in the work. Look, anyone can become a millionaire in any career. But you have to put in the work.

You have to show up every day with energy.

You need be reliable and consistent.

You need to do all of the little things that your coworkers aren’t doing.

Lastly, you need to continue to learn each and every day.

This all means that to requalify for your job you must:

  1. Keep up with your industry blogs/news.
  2. Be trying out new software (get on the cutting edge).
  3. Reading applicable books.
  4. Tracking your time.
  5. Ensuring that you are crushing the job that you are currently performing – yet setting yourself up to take over your boss’ job.
  6. Listening to industry related podcasts.
  7. Creating good work habits.
  8. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
  9. Networking with your coworkers.
  10. Be likeable!

And depending upon your job, there may be more stringent requirements to keep up and requalify, or there may be less you need to do.

Requalifying for your job each year will improve your salary, get you a promotion, and more.

But by working to requalify for your job each year, you will be setting yourself up for success.

You’ll be working your way into a promotion, or a raise. Plus you’ll be a better all around employee.

You’ll also have the confidence to go in and ask for the raise you deserve or you’ll go out on the open market and fetch more.

Hint: A-players are already doing this.

Look, the reason why this is so important is because A-players are already doing this.

That is why they are A-players.

Yet even A-players can become stagnant

But I like the philosophy of requalifying for your job even for A-players, because even we can get stagnant.

I know. Because I was one of them. I’ve admitted my failures before. This one is on the list. I became stagnant.

I was reading Game of Thrones and other novels to take my mind off the stress. I was not digging into industry news. I was trying to live a balanced life.

But I tipped the scales too much the other way.

If I had embraced the concept of requalifying for my job each year, I would have pushed myself out of stagnancy.

Eventually I did get myself out of that rut, but if you choose to follow the philosophy of requalifying for your job each year, you will be in much better shape.

You will out earn your peers, and your career will flourish.

So go out there and requalify for your jobs everyone. You got this!

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15 comments

  1. I question this a bit. ‘Doing all the little things your coworkers aren’t’, in my realm falls into ‘other duties as assigned’, and isn’t recognized and then becomes expected. This has contributed to my current state of burn out. This is alongside a new company buying us, so a culture shift, and management not knowing what it truly takes to get the work completed.
    Doing the above with boundaries in place, I can see how it could lead to success.

  2. Wow, I really like this idea a lot. I feel like a lot of companies are more about networking than qualifying for the job. With the way technology is changing, this would be a great way for companies to remain competitive. It was be hard to compete with a company with this policy. It’s a great way to encourage growth.

  3. Interesting idea. I am newish at my company (6months), and I have noticed some people who have been around quite a while who seem to have lost their “spunk.” Which had me thinking they must have had redeeming qualities; otherwise, they wouldn’t have been hired in the first place.

    Maybe they are jaded, or whatever the case. The point is… it’s an excellent way to think about approaching your job/career to avoid complacency.

    1. Yeah everyone works hard the first many months and then settle into a rhythm and life takes over. But for those that want to truly take things to the next level, this mindset will take you very far.

  4. I was an A player and saw my compensation soar as I worked my way up the corporate food chain. I used to memorize the chemical plant schematics so I could draw how all the equipment connected in the billion dollar facility from memory. Nobody else did that kind of thing. But I was the guy they all ended up working for. I loved that being likable is on the list. That’s so huge and many extremely talented people don’t understand that. I’d add some kind of regular exercise program to the list too, I took up marathon running but anything that keeps you fit and trim will also help you requalify for your job every year.

    1. It really is the little things sometimes that make a big difference. Part of my success as a leader was not that I was the best software engineer (I wasn’t), or the best marketer (also not me), but I knew all of the finer details of the business.

      When we had a problem, I could usually help pinpoint the issue fairly quickly and save my employees wasted time and effort. Simply because I paid attention to everything. Even if I didn’t directly manage that division, I still kept tabs on employees, met with them or sat in on a meeting as often as I could, read through all of the year end reviews, etc.

      And yes, hat tip to you for adding the likeability factor for this and the other recent career post. I do believe that is a big reason for my success was likeability combined with competency.

      Fitness is important as well. I’ve always found that a healthy body promotes a healthy mind. I’m not a chiseled dude by any means, but I have always kept myself at a healthy weight and moderately fit.

  5. This is a good time for this message, coming out of the post-pandemic malaise. The work from home shift has sort of allowed for–and even encouraged–some stagnation. Good time to refocus and re-evaluate, for sure.

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