How to Have a Great Career

Take Ownership

  • Your career is yours and yours alone. You have the power to create it and live it as an expression of your unique talents and energy.
  • Forget what other people think of your choices. Even though people often mean well, you will be the one putting in the hours so be selfish enough to do something you enjoy and have fun with it!
  • Being yourself in your work gives power, creativity, and freedom. You are off track if you feel insecure or like a pretender at work.

Look Inside Yourself, You Know the Answers

  • Take note when you find yourself fully engaged in a work activity. If it feels as if you are in the zone, or plugged in and energized, or connected to something larger than yourself: Pay special attention.
  • Then describe it further…what are you liking about what you are doing? Is it this? Is it that? Keep asking yourself and you’ll know when you hit the answer that feels right.
  • Start general then get more specific in your description of what you like about what you are doing. For example, is it the communication or connection? Is it the performing or beautifying? Is it the helping or healing? Is it the organizing or administrating? Then add more detail by asking why.

Respect the Career Development Process

  • The beauty of a great career is in the way it unfolds.
  • Enjoy the present moment. Each small step adds up until you are absolutely ready for more.
  • Appreciate then forget when you felt lost or frustrated in your career. Through those times, you learned more about what you DO want.

Understand the Power of People

  • People can be powerful and brilliant in sharing their connections with others. Cherish and maintain your connections to tap into the power.
  • People can be dark, egotistical, and negative, but this is nothing compared to an individual in harmony with self. Recognize the negative as the weaker power and stay beyond it.
  • See and applaud the strengths of others as you do for yourself. Be a builder-upper who is generous with knowledge, info, and positive energy.

Be an Opportunity Bulldog

  • Take your individual strengths and mesh them with your public identity, and no one can take your place.
  • Research and understand the opportunities that exist because of the challenges in your field of expertise.
  • Present a passion for being or finding the solution and be unafraid of asking for the opportunity.

When Unhappy at Work

There’s a difficult time between where you are now and where you want to be that requires extra focus when you are unhappy at work or when you plan to change jobs or careers. If you are unhappy at work you have a few options.

  • Quit right now with no notice, telling them to take the job and shove it as you walk out the door. Feel a few moments of joy and freedom until you take yourself to your next opportunity and, most likely, recreate the same unhappiness you had before.
  • Stay with a bad attitude. Tell the story every day of how you hate your job, the people you work with, and how you are underpaid, under-appreciated, and have no options. The more you practice this outlook the easier it becomes.
  • Stay and tell a different story. Talk about what you appreciate about your job or career. Practice looking at the bright side and you will see more bright side. Heck, your co-workers and boss might even start treating you differently.
  • Stay and tell a different story while defining what you want in your next career move. Be on the lookout for the next opportunity all the while appreciating your current position and building more skills and contacts.

One thing that helps is to focus more on what you want next rather than what you don’t like about where you are currently because that makes the current day-to-day very difficult and keeps a negative vibe going. So during times of change, it’s important to focus on the excitement for what is coming but with an ability to be appreciative of where you are now and how far you’ve come. Instead of leaving your current position in anger or hastily, think in terms of going to the next step in your career out of excitement and interest and let that guide your actions.

Informational Interviewing: A Career Research Technique

Choosing a career direction is a complex process involving many steps including exploring your interests, skills, values, and personality type, plus lots of time to learn and to strategize a career development plan. After the beginning steps of self-assessment, you choose a few of the career fields that seem to have the most promise and do more intense research.

Researching career fields begins with taking a look at the Occupational Outlook Handbook and the O*Net to learn more about specific career fields. Then, if a specific career field is still being considered, it is time to go out into the field to learn more. In fact, one of the most important aspects of choosing a career path is to get out in the real world and study real people. People who are doing the kind of job that you might want to do someday. One way to do this is through informational interviewing.

Typically, the informational interview process looks like this:

  • find people in the career of interest to talk to
  • schedule a time to meet with them for 30 minutes or so
  • ask questions about their career, and then
  • send a thank you note.

There are several ways to find people for an informational interview. The best method is to use your network of contacts to find people in the line of work that you want to learn more about. Begin asking family members, friends, and other people who they know working in the career. For example, you might approach your aunt and ask her, “Who do you know who works as a civil engineer?” Once a member of your network knows someone to refer you to, ask for that person’s name and phone number. You will be surprised how many people your contacts know and how easy it is to find people to talk to about all kinds of careers.

Next, call the new contact. Give your name and how you know about them. Tell them that you are interested in learning more about their career field and that you were hoping they could help. Ask if you can schedule a time to speak with them for 30 minutes because you would like to ask them how they got into the field and about their recommendations for people who are considering entering the profession.

Following are some questions typically asked in an informational interview. Remember you most likely will not be able to ask them all since you want to keep the interview to only 30 minutes. Be sure to take a pen and paper for quick notes and recommendations and to assist you with writing a thank you note the following day. Be sure to note the correct spelling of their name and their address by asking them the information and writing it down in your notes or checking their business card.

SAMPLE INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

  • How did you develop your career path?
  • How did you get into this job?
  • What are your duties as a ____?
  • How long have you been in this position?
  • What do you like best about this career?
  • What do you like least about this career?
  • What would you do differently if you were starting over in this field?
  • What are the educational requirements of this field?
  • What is the typical salary range for this career field?
  • Can you recommend some professional associations for this career field?
  • What do you read to stay up-to-date in the field?
  • What further education do you participate in?
  • What are the advancement opportunities in this field?
  • What do you see as the future of this career field?
  • What is your career goal for the future?
  • What is happening in this industry?
  • What kinds of companies make up this industry?
  • Where has growth taken place in this field recently?
  • Who are your customers or clients?
  • How do you promote your products and/or services?
  • Who are some of your competitors?
  • What has helped to make companies successful in this industry?
  • What recommendations do you have for a person interested in this field?
  • Do you know others I should speak to about this career field?