I recently conducted an interview via email with a reporter for a large, national business publication.
(Strange, considering I started my own career as a journalist with a college degree – Print Journalism – that no longer exists. Remember printed newspapers? Me neither.)
The journalist asked three great questions, ones that transcend generations and apply to anyone young or old entering today’s workplace:
- What’s the single most important piece of advice you would give to a 40-year-old professional about his or her career, given the present-day economic situation?
- What should parents tell their teenagers?
- If a young person has no idea what he or she might want to do for a career, and the means to pursue anything, which fields would you encourage that person to embrace, and which ones would you tell him or her to avoid?
I did not pull any punches with my answers:
1. Everyone is a free agent now. Everyone is also a brand – whether you like it or not. A platform like LinkedIn is the perfect place to build and showcase your ‘personal brand’ so to speak.
I cannot state this with enough passion: You must have a professional presence on LinkedIn.
With nearly 400 million members in 200 countries, and with 2 new members joining every single second, it is the world’s #1 place to find a job, get discovered or become more successful in your current position in terms of generating more sales leads, clients and revenue.
In my own experience, I was unexpectedly fired at the height of the 2008 economic depression. I had a wife and three young sons to support. And within a week, I had two job offers – both of which came via LinkedIn, and it was all because I’d invested time building out an impressive LinkedIn profile.
I actually ended up getting a new job that paid me $ 15,000 more per yearthan the job I’d just been fired from – and this was at the height of the 2008 depression!
2. First, I would tell my teenager, “The Internet and Social Media are forever.” Meaning anything you share, post or think is funny is going to be searchable and discoverable for the rest of your life. And that might have a huge impact on your ability to land a certain type of job or position later on in life.
(I would also cringe at the thought of social media being around when I was practicing my teenage shenanigans with friends!)
Second, and this is going to sound controversial, but I am completely serious – I would tell my teenager NOT to go to college unless he is going to need the type of schooling necessary to become a doctor, engineer or lawyer. I’ve written before why I think college is a sham, and I stand behind that even more in today’s world. I’d encourage my teenager to take an apprentice approach – test out different careers or callings by interning or apprenticing a real professional in the real world. Discover what it is you love to do, and then decide if you’re going to need formal schooling to further that dream.
3. I wrote an entire book about turning your passion into a profession. We live in the best time in human history to do what you love and turn that performance into a paycheck. Rather than chasing a certain type of field or paycheck, I would say this: You must do what you love – even if it’s not a sexy or popular industry right now. You will never maintain long-term happiness – and, more importantly, you won’t be successful – doing a job you’re not passionate about. Instead, figure out what it is you feel like you were born to do, and then decide if you can either do that for someone else inside a company, or else create your own business around it. Either way, you have no excuse – given the ease of access to technology and inexpensiveness of it all, you can open a up storefront today and start making money if you have a good product, service or plan in place.
How would YOU answer these 3 questions? Let me know your reaction and thoughts in the comments!Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community