Chances are, we’re going to have a job at some point in life.
Maybe you currently have a job.
In this tough job market, you’re grateful to have a full-time job. But even so, perhaps you’re unsure of what sort of direction you want to go in your career.
It’s June. Maybe you’re graduating, and will be looking for a job soon (or already are looking).
It’s a tough job market for current and soon-to-be college grads. Some of us also have student loans to pay. And on top of that, how do we figure out what we want to do with our career?
I’ve definitely asked this question.
The Needles in the Haystack
Throughout college, I learned as much as I can on what leads to meaningful work: from my experiences of interning and doing research, to picking people’s brains, to reading. A lot of reading. From my experiences of sifting through plenty of articles, blog posts, opinion-editorials, and TED talks, I’ve learned there is a multitude of information on career advice on the interwebz.
“50 Secrets for Career Success from the Top Entrepreneurs”
“Top 8 Things Successful People Do Every Day”
“The 10 Keys to Achieving Your Goals at Work”
Do these article titles sound familiar? I’m not discrediting the merit of the advice given in these kinds of articles. I’m saying, among the noisiness of career advice, where’s the stuff we should really pay attention to?
Like you may know, I’m a college student who still has yet to have a full-time job or start my own business. I don’t know everything there is to be successful in my career.
But I do know which pieces of advice helped me in my own career endeavors. And as an aspiring I-O psychologist, I want to help others do the cool things they want to do in their career, while being happy and fulfilled in doing so.
So let’s talk about what some of my favorite pieces of career advice are.
When it comes to finding fulfilling work, we’ve heard the saying: follow your passion. Cal lays out the ground-breaking case on how following our passion doesn’t exactly lead to us to that. Moreover, based on the experiences of those who actually love what they do he suggests the actual, practical steps it takes to get to fulfilling work.
If you’re looking for an ideal place to start on career advice, I believe it’s this book.
The Recession-Proof Graduate // Charlie Hoehn
Charlie Hoehn, like many of us, struggled to find a job after college. After spamming his resume to hundreds of companies that he didn’t necessarily want to work for, at 23, he was able to work with world-class entrepreneurs.
Step-by-step, he breaks his strategy of “free work”, which got him from applying to job after job to receiving more job offers that he could handle.
Charlie also made this e-book free for download. Oh glorious day.
Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? // Seth Godin
Seth Godin is considered by some one of the most influential business bloggers and marketers in the world.
With the changing nature of work, Seth talks about the linchpins: Those who put all of themselves into what they do, those who are the problem-solvers when there is no manual, and those who are indispensable to any organization. He talks about how you can become a linchpin.
Out of all his books, Seth almost considers Linchpin the one that had the highest impact. I’m sure many others do, too.
These cool cats affiliated with Oxford University are a non-profit dedicated to helping students and graduates who want to make a difference in their careers. They want to become the best source of career advice for us twenty somethings: They make sure everything they say is backed by evidence from real research. They are literally transforming the search for a meaningful career into a scientific field—they call it “existential risk reduction”.
Their career guide is a great place to, you know, start reducing your existential risks.
If it’s not apparent to you that I am an unashamed fanboy of Cal’s advice, it should be, by now. Cal’s old stuff is all about college student advice—which, I attest to, is the best there is of its kind. Now he writes about how those who succeed in knowledge work succeed.
Specifically career advice, some of my favorite blog posts of his are:
- The Most Important Piece of Career Advice You Probably Never Heard
- Don’t Trust Anyone Under 500: Dale Davidson’s Unconventional Advice for Graduates
- How to Get Into Stanford With B's on Your Transcript: Failed Simulations & the Psychology of Impressiveness
Author, Stanford graduate, and entrepreneur Ramit Sethi gives very honest advice and isn’t afraid to get nitty-gritty and the ultra-specific with his messages. I know, it’s sort of a ridiculous name for a blog (it’s also the name of his NYTimes best-selling book). But Ramit’s definition of rich goes beyond swimming in mad dough.
Some of my favorite blog posts of his are:
- The Principle of Decommoditization: How to stand out to hiring managers
- How this guy can get people to read his emails
- The Worst Career Advice in the World
Here are also a few of my favorite single posts:
Some Quick Sage Advice for Young Employees Early in Their Careers // Mark Suster. This is my favorite post in this sublist. It’s short and extremely practical—read it for yourself.
What 12 Super-Successful People Wish They Knew At 22 // Jacquelyn Smith. This piece is the perfect reassurance for college students.
Career advice // George Mondiot. Great nuggets on the idea of specialization. Initially intended for journalists but the advice applies to any career.
This Woman’s Innovative ‘Resume’ Thoroughly Impressed Airbnb’s CEO. Nina Mufleh knows how to hustle and stand out to her dream company.
The 3 Secrets of Highly Successful Graduates // Reid Hoffman, Founder of LinkedIn. I don’t think there are “secrets” to being successful, but these tips are damn true. It’s a presentation, a nice change from a large body of text.
Good News! Your Life Isn’t Limitless! // Art of Manliness. This was one of the first pieces on career I’ve ever read. It’s still one of my favorites to this day.
The Advice On Advice
Generally speaking, advice is based on someone’s personal experience. While I really believe advice can and should be broadly applied, some advice is just not as applicable to you.
For instance, if you don’t want to be a world-class entrepreneur traveling around the world, and are content with a steady, full-time job, the advice that would work for that entrepreneur may not work for you.
So be picky about the advice you take (and not take) to heart. And remember, the amount of advice that you know will never beat the advice you actually apply.
So at some point, just do something (Like Shia says). And learn from what you did. (And then give awesome career advice, so, y’know, the career advice cycle can continue.)
As my last favorite piece on career advice, I’m going to turn to my dude Bruce:
What’s some of your favorite career advice?
Photo credits go to Zot!report.