7 Career Tips for the Ambitious Job Seeker
7 important career tips for the ambitious job seeker in you that believes you will finally find what's right for you.
Few people get the proper training or information about landing a dream job. The rest struggle their whole lives in search of prosperity, which is essentially making enough money to do what they actually like to do. Since I’ve graduated from college, I have held over twenty different jobs. Some of them for a day and some for years; I’ve done anything from construction work to scientific research for money. I never felt satisfied or attached to a job enough to want to continue. Sometimes I kept on going because I needed the money and had nothing else lined up, and sometimes I just quit because I could. In this process, I have also learned a ton about myself, the job market, employers, and everything I wish someone had told me before I fell into this rabbit hole.
The ultimate disclaimer for this article is the simple fact that when you need money, you have to do what it takes to make money. If you have dependents, debt, or other financial restrains scratch most of what I’ve written. This guide is for those who can afford to be picky to some extent such as, recent college graduates, or people who don’t have dependants. It is for the ambitious job seeker in you that believes you will finally find what is right for you.
1 – Get to know yourself and your job style. The more you know yourself, the closer you get to finding your dream job. Compile a list of environments that you think you will thrive in versus environments that you rather avoid. Do you like fast-paced or slow-paced? Do need enjoy moving around or sitting in one place? Do you need a lot of direction or you are an independent worker? What are your hard and soft limits when it comes to making money? You can find many online resources and personality tests that help you determine who you really are when it comes to jobs. Think carefully about every job you’ve had and what exactly worked for you and what didn’t.
Forget about what society tells you about what jobs are good or bad. Being a dentist, engineer, carpenter is an excellent job for one person and a nightmare for another. Only you will know what is right for you.
2 – Know your worth and don’t compromise. Determine what your value is based on your experience and lifestyle and don’t be afraid to ask for it. You can set an hourly price for yourself, even if the job isn’t on an hourly basis. Otherwise, the thought of being underemployed is going to consume you every second of your day. It’s an unforgiving monster. For instance, if you think working for less than $15/h is underemployment, then don’t take the job (sometimes benefits make up for low salary, but be careful what you sign up for). If a project requires 100 hours of your time, you should be getting paid at least $1500. Your current rate determines the next one. If you are settling for lower than what you are worth, you’re making it harder for yourself to get to that ideal place.
Most importantly, do NOT do free internships or volunteering for someone who is making money off of your work. It is illegal and unethical. If you respect your worth, others will too.
3 – Good Attitude can win over skills. Employers everywhere rate good communication skills as the number one quality they are seeking in an employee. Sure, skills matter, but your personality and attitude can get you further than you think. Just as much as you care about your boss and co-workers’ personality, they care about yours too. Most employers know that they have to train you for the job anyway. As long as you show enthusiasm and willingness to learn the new skills, your employer will be happy as a clam.
Keep a good attitude, be polite, and show that you are self-confident. Don’t confuse self-confidence with being narcissistic. The difference is in humility, in case you are wondering. Your employer has dealt with all sorts of people, from the irresponsible type to the know-it-all over-skilled species. So as long as you act decent and excited they will probably like you. Just be yourself in a professional manner and let the rest happen. Then, if your employer doesn’t like you, would you even want to work for them?
4 – Don’t be afraid to change as many jobs as it takes. You have got to trust your experience. If a job is making you miserable, making you feel worthless, or if you wake up every morning wanting your feet chopped off so you couldn’t go to work, then it is probably not the right match. Don’t settle for misery. Your elders would probably try to convince you that a job is a job and just because of that you’ve got to put up with anything. Or if working for the XYZ company is an opportunity that so many others are after, you should be grateful for it and never consider quitting just because so many others would kill to have your job. NO. Just NO. Changing your job until you find the right one is your birthright (well, it is more like a luxury, but you get what I mean). It keeps you young, gives your spirit strength, and preserves your self-respect. If you can’t afford to quit and look for a new job, work hard to find something else even if it is just a bit of improvement from what you currently have.
5 – Take advantage of every opportunity to advertise yourself. Another key element of landing the dream job is looking for it literally everywhere. Networking doesn’t just mean going to corporate events or a career fair. Networking is going to your friend’s birthday party, meeting up with your family, and everything that involves someone other than you. You never know when that grand idea to start your own business or amazing opportunity to work for your dream organization is going to click. This is where self-expression matters. Let people around you know who you really are. Talk about fields that you are passionate about and what your dream job would be like. Let them know that you are looking for something closer to your passion. I can’t tell you how many times friends, family or even strangers have directed me to a job, an organization or a cue to dig deeper into my passion just from casual conversations. Networking is utilizing the collective experience and knowledge of everybody you know. Take advantage of your connections.
6 – Don’t let your job define you, unless you want it to. If you are un/underemployed, it may be difficult to socialize. All the ambitious job seekers have experienced those awkward moments when someone asks you, “so what do you do?” I personally hate the question. I always have to clarify, “you mean for money? or for fun?” I try to make the distinction that what I do for money doesn’t necessarily define me, unless I want it to. Until you find your dream job, every “what do you do?” is going to create an uncomfortable feeling, especially in a culture that tends to define people with their careers. You can always come up with fun answers that show who you are in more important than what you do for money. Also, try to avoid the question yourself. You can instead say something like “so what do you do for fun?”
7 – Live a lifestyle that allows you to be picky. Some of what was said is only available to those who can afford it (e.g. #2 and #4). However, it doesn’t take much to get to a point that you could be picky about what you do with your life. Being careful with your money and spending it only on what is needed for your physical and mental health may sustain you long enough for your next step. Small sacrifices here and there can provide you with a better opportunity to make up your mind, train yourself, and put yourself back on the job market. By all means leave some room for fun and goofing off, but do you really need that $65 pair of shoe to add to the other ten pairs you already have? Think about where you can make cuts. Maybe your cell phone plan could go from $80/month to $50/month? It is entirely up to you what needs to be cut and what can stay. After all, it is your dream and you decide how long you can wait before getting there.