Career Advice to My Younger Self

  1. Imaginative experiment 1: Think back to when you were 7 or 8 years old. You’re at a dinner surrounded by parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents. Someone asks you, “What will you be when you grow up?” Answer as if you were that 7-year-old. What’s the reaction of your family around the table? Laughter? Teasing? Disbelief? Scoffing? What’s your reaction to what your 7-year-old self said? Whose reaction is most important to you? Source: The Ultimate Anti-Career Guide
  2. Imaginative experiment 2: You’re at your retirement party. Your colleagues are celebrating your life and career. What are they celebrating you for? Were you a great manager? A visionary? A great teacher? A skilled navigator of the bureaucracy? What footprint did you leave behind in their lives?
  3. Where do you want to work? Use LinkedIn to find contacts there and invite someone out for a coffee meeting. Don’t talk about yourself: ask about their work, what interests them about it, what keeps them there, etc. Make friends, don’t network. Schedule 3 or 4 coffee meetings a month, let people know you’re out there and you’re interested. Source: Ask the Headhunter, and a few other places.
  4. In my 20s-40s, I switched jobs every four years, it seemed. By that time, I’d figured out the job, was bored, and wanted to be tested and challenged elsewhere. Think in terms of job adventures. Don’t hone a set of skills so specialized and local that they make you the perfect employee at your current job. When you start a new job, start looking for the next job. Maybe apply for jobs via LinkedIn to see if the marketplace values your current skillset.
  5. Don’t worry too much about this mythical thing called “a career.” Look after the little things, like doing work you find valuable and worthwhile. The career will look after itself.