I have just attended a lovely talk hosted by the Women@Forbes featuring the founders of The Muse and three other great guest speakers one of which was from Forbes’ 30-under-30. Amazingly, most of the people I met with and talked to are entrepreneurs, from personal financial advisor, freelance PR consultant, to founder of a food company that supports local communities (and of course, The Muse’s founders). And, the most beautiful job I have observed is owned by the old warm-looking couple in their 70s next to their little table of books near the doorstep where I made my purchase: “We do not have a bookstore. We just follow where the events are and anticipate the number of books that may be sold. We have been in the business for 30 years and although we do not have precise estimation but with experience, we are better at it.” They are even far beyond Amazon, huh?
And here are the key notes and my take from the talk:
1. Don’t forget to leverage the new tools like Twitter, LinkedIn, etc, for networking. If you follow someone with a natural interest in their work, that will shine through when you make requests for a connection, mentorship, etc. One of the speakers got her mentor, who later was the CTO of CISCO, through Twitter. My take: Yes, go technology, social media, etc., and whatever platforms it takes, the key is to be sincere and articulate what help you need.
2. The speed that tenure has changed is amazing. Companies are struggling to retain employees who increasingly ask for paths to grow. Indeed, when I myself conducted interviews with the employees about the top factors that make them leave at my previous company where 80% of the population was under 30, the common answer was when they feel like they do not learn and grow any more. My take: You own your career so do not wait for a so-called “path to grow” or “career path” as they take ages to come or just look nice on papers (practically). Be on top of the market, internally and externally, even when you are not actively searching for jobs, as this keeps you in proactive positions no matter what.
3. Knowing yourself is very important. My take: Undoubtedly. There are times people just blindly apply for job without truly understanding their strengths, unique experience, etc., and what they are really looking for. So cool jobs belong to those who know very well who they are.
4. The resumes or cover letters that are turned down within seconds are those of copy-and-paste process without any homework. Employers are only keen on people who are thoughtful about the company and the values they bring, not just “this job is good for me”. My take: Before applying for a job, going for an interview,.., ask not what the company can do for you—ask what you can do for the company. That is why they create the position in the first place.
5. Career changers are the 2nd biggest group, after job seekers. For anyone who is looking for what else and what is next, break previous roles and roles of consideration into skills so you can have a practical evaluation of what the right next move is. Moreover, find ways to ease your way into a new job with totally new aspect (different area of expertise / from being an entrepreneur to having a boss, etc.) by asking for options like working part time or as a freelancer. My take: Have a well-structured process to guide you through vision and goal setting, strategies, options, etc. and best is to have a great career coach.
6. For some people, starting their own businesses before working for someone works, but not for others. Working for someone helps you get the skills you need to operate your own companies. My take: Follow your gut. Connect with great people. And once you decide which path to take, give it your best.
7. Not every job has to be a good experience. Keep in mind that when you learn so much, that opens up the world. Keep in mind that you are here to learn and you will stay here this long. My take: Whoever successful in their careers, based on my observation, are those ever conquering the bad and ugly experiences, which pivot them to the next good one(s). So “When Someone Offers You a Seat On a Rocket Ship, You Get On.” (Eric Schmidt).
Enjoy your career!