What is your career? Forget about how you define this to others for now, and just think for a bit about how you define your career to yourself. What does it mean to you to have a career? Is it just your job? Is it something you do to make a living? Is it what you do for money? Is it your work?
Most people would define a career as more than a job. Above and beyond a job, a career is a long-term pattern of work, usually across multiple jobs. A career implies professional development to build skill over a period of time, where one moves from novice to expert within a particular field. And lastly, I would argue that a career must be consciously chosen; even if others exert influence over you, you must still ultimately choose to become a doctor or a lawyer or an accountant. If you didn’t make a conscious choice at some point, I would then say you have a job but not a career.
One of the difficulties I see a lot of people experiencing lately is that they spend the bulk of their days working at a job that isn’t part of a consciously chosen career. Once you graduate from school and enter the work force, you don’t suddenly gain the knowledge of what kind of career to build. Most likely you just focus on getting a job as your first step after school. And you probably have to make this choice in your early 20s. After a decade or two, you’ve established a pattern of work and built up some expertise. But at what point did you stop and say, what is my career going to be?
One of the best pieces of advice for improving at public speaking is to videotape yourself and then watch the video, looking for ways you can improve. This technique is commonly used by the best speakers in the world.
But this idea can work for any kind of performance, not just public speaking.
If you’re a salesperson, tape one of your sales presentations. If you’re a realtor, record yourself showing a piece of property — just bring your own camera and tell people you’re videotaping the property as you show it to them. If you have a desk job, setup a camera in the corner of your office or cubicle, and tape yourself doing your work for 30 minutes or so. Your co-workers may think you’re weird, and they’re right, but that’s OK. Weird is good.
When you watch the video, you’ll probably be surprised by what you see. Take notes.
A great way to have job opportunities to come to you is to use a little-known feature on Google. You can use this feature to have Google notify you about new jobs in your field as they come on the market. Watch the video clip below and it will tell you step-by-step how to set this up for yourself.
Warning: Don’t get confused. Even though the example given here is for a Legal Secretary in the UK, it will work just as well if you are looking to get notified about any type of job opportunity — whether it’s for a Marketing Manager or a Senior HR Vice President job.
Many years ago I listened to an audio program by Brian Tracy where he said that everyone is essentially self-employed and that even if you’re an employee, you should think of yourself as the President of your own personal services corporation. Call it Your Name, Inc.
This mindset makes a lot of sense. Even if you seemingly work for someone else, you still work primarily for yourself. You have your own company with one employee — you — and you’re in the business of selling your employee’s labor for profit.
I’m sometimes accused of writing too much from the entrepreneurial perspective when I cover career development, seemingly ignorant of the fact that most people are employees. I intentionally favor this perspective because I know that you can be nothing but self-employed, regardless of how you generate income. It’s not because I’m trying to push you to start your own business. The more important issue is to help you avoid the mistake of giving away your responsibility for your personal career results.
“Your résumé starts the entire job search process; it is the one and only emissary that will go into the company you’d like to work for. lt stands between you and any job you’d love to have. It is arguably the most important piece of paper you will generate in your lifetime” – What Does Somebody Have to Do to Get A Job Around Here? by Cynthia Shapiro