Early Career Advice Part 2

A budding something... like early career advice

Random Observation/Comment #249: I’m surprised at how much career advice is out there for people, but how few people actually take it seriously. Seriously, this advice is helpful…

After speaking to my personal board of directors (a.k.a. family, friends, and mentors) about career advice, I had gathered more very useful information about career development that I feel should be shared.  Surprisingly, there’s not much overlap, so I’ll just append it to the previous list.

5. Your personal brand management – maintaining a reputation and self-marketing. Think before you speak and keep a “can-do” attitude. Be conscious of all conversations and be sure to actively go out and tell people you do things.  Project your ideas in a mature way and practice the elevator pitch to be able to tell people your goals. If you have a solid and consistent perception by all coworkers, then they will think about you when opportunities arise.  This can be summarized with one quote: “Closed mouths don’t get fed.”

6. Performance. Although self-marketing is important, you have to also be good at what you do.  Remember WINE: Work, Integrity, Network, and Excellence.  All of these should be pretty straightforward.  For life in general, just say what you mean, mean what you say, do what you say, and deliver what you promise.  Keep yourself transparent and don’t fake those multiple personalities tailored to specific people.  This will build trust and also improve your personal brand.  Also, staying consistent will ensure that everyone knows who you are and what to expect from you. If you start off strong – you better stay that way or else any slacking will be a disappointment in comparison.

7. Change management. Change can be very scary, but it should also be seen as an exciting opportunity to see how you act outside of your comfort zone. Change should be embraced.  “Those that stand in front of change get run over.” Also, if you can fill a vacuum in times of change, it will be a huge growth opportunity for you.

8. (Although this is already emphasized enough) Network, Network, Network. Obviously, networking is important. Almost all opportunities that just “land in your lap” are because you know someone and you were able to project your personal brand onto them and make a positive impression. If you do this consistently enough and seek for new opportunities, then it will make your life much easier.  Other methods of finding networking possibilities include, professional networks, NGOs, clubs with similar interests, and going out with your team/vendors for drinks.

9. Mentor filtering and categorization. Once you meet someone of interest at the networking events above, follow up with coffee and enter them into your circle of people to go to for advice. It’s a great idea to categorize your mentors into something realistic, like: life advisor (anything and everything), strategic career (3-5 year plans with career), tactical career (1-2 years career), problem solver (immediate analysis), comfort food (someone that makes you feel good about your situation), and news update (someone to keep in touch with to get the best out of their niche).  Not everyone will be your best friend (they just don’t have the time for that), but maybe they could help you in these specific categories. It is possible that your best friends should fit into all of these categories.

10. The long term plan? How would you answer someone in HR asking you, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”  I answered: “My goals have changed annually, as I think they should, because life should be reassessed on a consistent basis.  However, the thought process I use in making these decisions have always stayed consistent to my principles, and have always improved with additional feedback.”  Now that I think about it, this answer was just avoiding the question but plugging in my overall view of life. I was happy with this answer, though.  It at least makes the company know that I’m not a sheep and I’m always putting the company in check at the same time. I have my level of loyalty, but it’s always important to take into account personal factors.

I hope this advice is useful. At the end of the day, it’s really all about experience.  Keep an open mind and continue to learn about your niche, your peers, your managers, your friends, and yourself.

~See Lemons Expand