Six Career Tips

Lately, a few friends of mine are making some moves in their careers, they asked me for my advice, so I decided to give them my observations. I’ll probably refer people to this post, I often use this blog to save me time. One caveat, my experience is within corporate, so if you’re of the entrepreneurial spirit, I don’t have as much insight.

Six Career Tips To Help You Grow


Learn something new every day
When I was a lowly intern right out of college doing grunt work IT application clean up and light UI design, I asked harassed, my dear colleagues to teach me something every single day. They thought I was bright-eyed, cute, and naive and I ended up learning a little about each of the web developers, system integrators, project managers, web managers, web architects, computer support teams. Although this was clearly outside of the scope of an intern, bit by bit, I soaked in each little morsel about web in the enterprise and it fueled me to learn more. Leo Cheng, Jason Martorano, Oliver Cheng, Dave Giffen, John Perera, Kunal Malik, Jeff Cavano, Aileen Cheng, Robert Cartelli were so good to me, thanks guys.

Often, the fastest way Up is Out
Often, the fastest way up, for those who enjoy working in companies, is out. In most cases, incremental raises are often single digit changes (keeping you above the inflation waterline), and the occasional promotion will be low double digits. For those that I’ve met and move to new job positions, outside of their company they can often expect a 20%-40% increase in salary as they join a new company. It’s interesting to see that firms may value outside talent as more important than inside experience talent, in some cases, a fresh skillset or experience may be what’s needed.

Reverse engineer the job you want
Another useful tip is to reverse engineer the position that you desire to be in. Earlier in my career, I aspired to be a web manager, so I took job descriptions of web strategists and looked at all the skills and experiences needed. I printed out the job description (circled the salary) and taped it to my bathroom mirror, I saw it every morning and night, a double dose of self-reflection. Over time, you start to piece together the projects, programs, and apply new skills to learn how to do this. With time and perseverance, your resume will catch up to where you want to go.

Education matters, but not as much as you thought
For very specialized jobs, where in school training is essential (law, medicine, sometimes programming) this bullet doesn’t apply to you. More and more executives I meet have degrees in something they didn’t study in school for. For most jobs, they hire you because of what you can do for them, not what school you went to. There’s a reason why education falls to the bottom of the resume, and the ‘value statement’ is at the top, quickly followed by real world experience. Don’t get me wrong, education is very important, a bachelor degree is really expected in today’s workplace, but I often lean on the broad, theoretical knowledge I gained as a primer (or glossary) for me to dive in deeper in the business world.

You are a company of one
The other observation I share with my friend (and now you) is that you are a company of one. Even though your paycheck is being delivered through your employer, you are solely responsible for your direction, what you learn, how you perform, and how much you’re paid. I firmly believe that you are paid what you’re worth, so when I hear people complaining “they are underpaid”, in my mind, I translate that as you’ve “undersold yourself”, get skilled, spend time on weekends or early mornings to learn more, and apply new projects, programs and skills –or leave. Therefore, you are your own CEO, CMO, CFO, COO, CTO, you’re in control of your destiny. As you can tell, I don’t believe in fate, you are driving your ship of one.

Develop your plan, and put it in writing
If you’re with me so far, develop your own plan, both short term and long term plans, and set goals on how to reach them. Often, these goals don’t have titles or companies in them, but they describe the environment, or the end outcomes of which you want to reach. Over time these goals will change, and that’s ok, but at least you’re looking forward. I learned this from my buddy’s dad when I was growing up, he had several businesses, and one of his dreams was to have a Ferrari –he achieved it.


Wishing you all the best! (really) I want to see you succeed. I get emails about once a month, where someone has said they’ve achieved more, party due to this blog, (but the majority due to their ambition of course) If you’ve other tips, please share in the comments.

Update: Connie Benson reminded me to post up my mantra of “pay yourself first” and “Manage your time as you do money“.

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    That’s right jeff

    Never indicate online that you ‘not looking for jobs’.

    Why? as soon as you flip that to ‘looking for jobs’ your employer knows what’s up.

    Always keep your options open.

  • Swathi Pedapalli

    Hi Jeremiah,

    I liked your career tips.

    I also observed the power of positive thinking, honesty and confidence.
    It makes you think inventive in your life and also you feel happy.

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Swathi

    I try :)

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  • http://blog.scope.is/marketing_safari Hjörtur Smárason

    Just realized I misspelled your name, Jeremiah. I’m very sorry about that. I guess I got confused by always seeing the wy in jowyang (on twitter) and therefore ending your name with my.

    You can even it out by trying to pronounce my name ;)

  • Larry

    Great post. I found it on lifehack.org. It’s really something I needed right now. The funny thing is, I now have to figure what I need to change over from tech support to project management. Hahah, And also why I want to be a project manager.

  • http://curiouslypersistent.wordpress.com Simon

    Great post Jeremiah. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.clarakuo.com Clara

    I like the comment on how to manage salary questions. “Never give out salary info, instead redirect and focus on what job SHOULD pay, because of the value you’re bringing.” And plans are good only if you review and update once in a while. Otherwise they will just become forgotten.

  • Tom

    Great insights.

    In the interview, when they get around to asking you if you have any questions, ask this:

    “What does success in this position look like?”

    It shows that you’re already thinking about aligning your performance to corporate goals…

  • Ash

    Borrowing a term used widely in India: adjust.
    Learn to review your career objectives regularly to see how realistic your original ideas, time frame, expectations are.

    Always move up. Up can mean a lower-paying job in some cases but always advance your skill set.

    Develop a niche! Whether its in your company, your field or your personal life find a way to differentiate yourself. It lays the foundation for becoming indispensable, which is a great card to have if you want the ability to craft your own job description.

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  • http://www.hollisterstaff.com Louisa

    Thanks for your advice. I’m always interested in hearing other’s advice on careers being that I work at a Boston based staffing company, Hollister Staffing (www.hollisterstaff.com). This advice is something that I can apply not only to my job, but also myself!

    Thanks!
    Louisa

  • http://www.abiggervoice.com Carol Ross

    Thanks for the great tips, Jeremiah, and as always, your community chimes in with lots of other good stuff. I really resonate with your theme that each of us is responsible for our career, not the employer. And we each make our own luck.

    A couple of other tips:

    1. Look for the white space in an organization–a need that is not filled by any part of the organization, but which is keeping the organization from reaching its goals. An example: In 2000, you may remember it as a time of “talent wars” when engineers were following your “up and out” advice. At the time, I worked for Lucent Bell Labs and could see friends with 20 years of experience walk out the door. It was a brain drain. After finding a receptive manager who would go to bat for the headcount, I created my own job as “retention leader,” to figure out how to keep engineers at the company. HR was only interested in hiring to fill the gap, not keeping them. Hiring managers were too busy trying to staff projects, not figuring out how to keep employees. Developing complex products requires continuity of engineering staff. Perfect white space.

    2. Invest in yourself through training. Interested in a topic but your manager won’t pay for it? Pay for it yourself. In the end, it’s about improving your skill set for YOUR career. I spent 20 years in large companies and found an attitude of “my manager won’t let me do this so I can’t pursue it.” People become cheap and expect the company to pay for everything. Now, after being a solopreneur for the last five years, I’m very cognizant of continuing to upgrade my skills, budgeting what I need to attract the work that I want to do.

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  • http://www.shiksha.com Vivek

    Great post…

    A must read for everyone….

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  • http://blog.mattborghi.com Matt Borghi (@mattborghi)

    Jeremiah,

    I just wanted to take a minute and tell you that this is a great post. Very insightful and inspiring. I look forward to your new posts and consider your site a valuable resource.

    Keep up the great work!

    Matt

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  • http://apokalypsesoftware.com/ Huperniketes

    N-E-V-E-R give out your salary history.

  • AjeetK

    “Develop your plan, and put it in writing” I think that this is great advice. When you commit to yourself, you can commit to others

  • AjeetK

    “Develop your plan, and put it in writing” I think that this is great advice. When you commit to yourself, you can commit to others

  • http://www.mysticmadness.com/ Amit

    great post, short and to the point. particularly related to education, i see people setting boundaries for themselves thinking that they not eligible enough. but it is all in mind……..you can go as far as you are determined to go……..

  • http://www.supplier4.com cheap ghd

    Over time these goals will change, and that’s ok, but at least you’re looking forward. I learned this from my buddy’s dad when I was growing up, he had several businesses, and one of his dreams was to have a Ferrari –he achieved it.

  • http://www.saltwatercleanse.net/salt-water-colon-cleanse-several-great-tips/ Several Great Tips

    I'll back again for sure, thanks for great article :D

  • Priteshjacvheri712

    Nice Blog

  • Career

    I would like to have my favourites to the list.

    Examine your pastimes and hobbies
    Look beyond your current job
    Look into new education/training opportunities
    Consider your likes and dislikes, needs and wants

    And you have to keep in mind that you create you perfect career not others.

  • http://www.ukjobsguide.co.uk/Job-Centre/ Job centre

    Thanks for the post. Vision is so important in many regards, but I think it is just plain important for people’s life. Who are you, what do you do for work, what is my goals? All can be accomplished better by vision. I’m sure you’re worth more than 20%!!!

  • http://www.careeroutlook.in/part-time-jobs-in-bangalore/ Kevin Clay

    These are the some great tips and its so true that if you want to get ahead in your career then it is very important that you learn something new everyday.

    I also want add for those people who are just starting off with their career that they should not watch the clock, because in order to achieve something substantial in your career you need to work round the clock. :)

  • http://www.saltwatercleanse.net Salt Water Cleanse

    I’m not finished read this yet, but it’s so fabulous ‘n I’ll back again when I was finished my job :D

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  • Kennex

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