Six Career Tips

Lately, a few friends of mine are making some moves in their careers, they asked me for my advice, so I decided to give them my observations. I’ll probably refer people to this post, I often use this blog to save me time. One caveat, my experience is within corporate, so if you’re of the entrepreneurial spirit, I don’t have as much insight.

Six Career Tips To Help You Grow

Learn something new every day
When I was a lowly intern right out of college doing grunt work IT application clean up and light UI design, I asked harassed, my dear colleagues to teach me something every single day. They thought I was bright-eyed, cute, and naive and I ended up learning a little about each of the web developers, system integrators, project managers, web managers, web architects, computer support teams. Although this was clearly outside of the scope of an intern, bit by bit, I soaked in each little morsel about web in the enterprise and it fueled me to learn more. Leo Cheng, Jason Martorano, Oliver Cheng, Dave Giffen, John Perera, Kunal Malik, Jeff Cavano, Aileen Cheng, Robert Cartelli were so good to me, thanks guys.

Often, the fastest way Up is Out
Often, the fastest way up, for those who enjoy working in companies, is out. In most cases, incremental raises are often single digit changes (keeping you above the inflation waterline), and the occasional promotion will be low double digits. For those that I’ve met and move to new job positions, outside of their company they can often expect a 20%-40% increase in salary as they join a new company. It’s interesting to see that firms may value outside talent as more important than inside experience talent, in some cases, a fresh skillset or experience may be what’s needed.

Reverse engineer the job you want
Another useful tip is to reverse engineer the position that you desire to be in. Earlier in my career, I aspired to be a web manager, so I took job descriptions of web strategists and looked at all the skills and experiences needed. I printed out the job description (circled the salary) and taped it to my bathroom mirror, I saw it every morning and night, a double dose of self-reflection. Over time, you start to piece together the projects, programs, and apply new skills to learn how to do this. With time and perseverance, your resume will catch up to where you want to go.

Education matters, but not as much as you thought
For very specialized jobs, where in school training is essential (law, medicine, sometimes programming) this bullet doesn’t apply to you. More and more executives I meet have degrees in something they didn’t study in school for. For most jobs, they hire you because of what you can do for them, not what school you went to. There’s a reason why education falls to the bottom of the resume, and the ‘value statement’ is at the top, quickly followed by real world experience. Don’t get me wrong, education is very important, a bachelor degree is really expected in today’s workplace, but I often lean on the broad, theoretical knowledge I gained as a primer (or glossary) for me to dive in deeper in the business world.

You are a company of one
The other observation I share with my friend (and now you) is that you are a company of one. Even though your paycheck is being delivered through your employer, you are solely responsible for your direction, what you learn, how you perform, and how much you’re paid. I firmly believe that you are paid what you’re worth, so when I hear people complaining “they are underpaid”, in my mind, I translate that as you’ve “undersold yourself”, get skilled, spend time on weekends or early mornings to learn more, and apply new projects, programs and skills –or leave. Therefore, you are your own CEO, CMO, CFO, COO, CTO, you’re in control of your destiny. As you can tell, I don’t believe in fate, you are driving your ship of one.

Develop your plan, and put it in writing
If you’re with me so far, develop your own plan, both short term and long term plans, and set goals on how to reach them. Often, these goals don’t have titles or companies in them, but they describe the environment, or the end outcomes of which you want to reach. Over time these goals will change, and that’s ok, but at least you’re looking forward. I learned this from my buddy’s dad when I was growing up, he had several businesses, and one of his dreams was to have a Ferrari –he achieved it.

Wishing you all the best! (really) I want to see you succeed. I get emails about once a month, where someone has said they’ve achieved more, party due to this blog, (but the majority due to their ambition of course) If you’ve other tips, please share in the comments.

Update: Connie Benson reminded me to post up my mantra of “pay yourself first” and “Manage your time as you do money“.