You know it’s coming: That conversation about your career you’ll inevitably have with your friends while you’re out at that bar, that party, or that dinner.
It usually goes something like this:
Your buddy Andy: “I actually just got promoted to Senior VP. I’ll have a staff of about 25 under me.”
Your pal Christine: “Ugh, now that I’m a manager my company is making me travel all the time. The Ritz was nice, but I’m so exhausted.”
Your chum Jennifer: “My new job is killing me! I’m in charge of the whole department, so my hours are nuts. Oh, don’t worry. This round is on me.”
All in unison: “So, how’s your job?”
You want to be happy for your friends—and really you are—but when you silently take stock of your own position, you’re left feeling kinda lousy.
Let’s face it, it can be discouraging to see your friends getting promotions or raises while you, for whatever reason, are not. In all likelihood, you’ll get your well-deserved promotion/raise at some point too. But in the meantime, here’s how you can channel that frustration—and your friends’ successes—into your own career progress.
Instead of moping, view the success of your friends as an opportunity, says Michael Kaminowitz, creator of New York City-based Welli, a mental well-being app. “Ask yourself how they got ahead faster than you,” he says. “Did they work harder? Learn faster? Play the office politics game better?”
Look at your choices and determine what you may have been able to do better. Meet your successful pals for drinks or take them out to for lunch and ask them how they got where they are now.
They will likely jump at the opportunity to help you, and it’s an excuse to catch up. Win-win.
Understandably, you may not want to hang out with your friends as they celebrate their successes, but you’d be missing a huge opportunity by just sulking by yourself.
Just because others are doing well doesn’t mean you can’t. Tap into their networks and use them to build your own.
“Recognize that as your friends get ahead in their careers, this can be very good for you, as they can now be better placed to help you,” says Michael Pollock, a New York City-based executive coach.
If you work in a similar industry—and in many cases, even if you don’t—ask if they know anyone who might be able to help you take your next step. Ask if they’d be able to make an introduction. These potential contacts may not have a job for you right away, but it is always helpful to expand your network. And definitely go to any party your fast-track friend invites you to—you never know who you’ll meet there who can help you.
Look, you already know your successful pals work at places where good work is rewarded—maybe you should work there, too. Moving out is sometimes an easier way to move up, and the statistics show people who leave their jobs stand to make more money over those who stay and hang on for the promotion. Plus, if your friends are rising stars at their jobs, you’ll head through the door with a good reputation right off the bat. Why not ride their coattails to the top?
Search those companies on Monster to find out if there are any jobs available, and then ask your well-placed pal to help put in a good word for you.
Could mixing work and friendship get a little awkward? Maybe, but don’t let it be. If your friends are the professionals you see them as, a transition like this can be pretty natural.
With social media showcasing everyone’s micro-achievements and exacerbating the feeling of “success anxiety,” people feel pressure to keep moving ahead, says Bill Connolly, a career adviser in Los Angeles.
“I’ve found that the way to keep cool as others get ahead is to spend time on self-understanding and growth,” Connolly says. Look at your own career path and see if there are things you could be doing to grow your skills, like classes, training, development, or special projects. And try to remind yourself that everyone’s path is different. Your friends will likely hit their own plateaus at some point—maybe when you’re having your moment.
“At the end of the day, it comes down to being confident in yourself and your direction,” Connolly says.
This article originally appeared on Monster and is reprinted with permission.