Career Trivia: 12 Career Facts You Wish You Knew When You Were 20
1. Your degree will only take you so far
Your degree and the learning it represents matters a lot, especially in differentiating you from other contenders for that first job and defining how quickly you can start contributing meaningfully on the role. However, how you play and interact with other people matters too. Your interpersonal skills, team skills, leadership skills and competitiveness will serve you just as much in life as the lessons you learned in the classroom. Character matters too; considerably. Ethics, integrity, fairness and tolerance are all essential for professional success. 28.8% of employers in the Middle East look for ‘hunger, drive and ambition’ as the most important factors when making a hiring decision, above technical skills, career track record and education, as per Bayt.com’s Hiring Practices in the MENA Poll February 2012.
2. It’s never too early to start a career
Even if you can’t get a proper paid internship while in college you can try to dabble with projects you can source yourself. Identifying such opportunities to learn and grow can be as challenging as the actual work you do! Whether it’s a lemonade stand in front of your villa on a sunny day, a cool corporate vending machine concept, or a franchise of new age vans that sell ice-cream and icy drinks that you turn into a reality, there is a lot to be learned from both success and failure.
3. It’s never too late to change careers
For better or for worse, gone are the days of lifelong security with an employer. In today’s workplace people change careers often and often that involves completely reinventing themselves. Some people change careers because of changes in their life circumstances, others due to changes in their circumstances in the workplace, some change to purse a dream they have always had or have suddenly developed; yet others due to an opportunity that presents itself and that is too tempting to refuse. Paradigm career shifts are becoming more and more commonplace and professionals are learning every day to adapt and adjust to new work realities and new interests to carve a niche in brand new domains often very different from their previous career path. 34% of MENA professionals are considering an industry shift as per Bayt.com’s Top Industries Survey December 2011.
4. Learning is a lifelong endeavor
If you thought you read your last book the week before graduation, think again! Lifelong learning is essential to retaining your competitive edge and staying relevant in the workplace. Seek to read constantly not only to stay up to date but also to acquire new skills, deepen your expertise and broaden your interest zone. 30.5% of polled professionals claim that willingness to learn is the most important quality required to succeed in one’s career as per Bayt.com’s Career Advancement in the MENA poll July 2011. Moreover, 28.6% of polled respondents say not updating existing skills is the biggest mistake regional professionals can make in their career.
5. Seek to be known as an expert in your field
If it’s worth doing, its worth doing well. Accept nothing less than a commitment to becoming an expert in your chosen role and give generously of your expertise so that you are recognized as such.
6. Be passionate about what you are doing
If you want your employers, peers and clients to be passionate about you, you need to feel and emanate passion for what you do! Don’t lie low and plod casually through your daily tasks; lukewarm nonchalance is very transparent and is not a career strategy that readily translates to professional excellence. Passion pays in your career and the more passionate you are about what you do the more others will be too.
7. Leave your insecurities and defensiveness at home
Nothing is more frustrating to a manager than a team member who does not accept constructive feedback professionally. When you are given advice in the workplace from managers and peers you respect and admire take it for what it is and leave the personal out of it. Excessive stubbornness and pride are recipes for career disaster.
8. Perfect your points of contact with other people
A colleague or subordinate today may be a boss or client tomorrow. Keep your contact points positive, sincere and constructive at all times and never burn your bridges. You never know who you will need a lead, reference, vote or helping hand from in the future. Be helpful just for the sake of being helpful too; good energy and a sincere, pleasant disposition will only benefit you in the long run.
9. Stand on the shoulders of giants
Don’t be afraid to hire people better, smarter, cooler, older or younger than you. The best managers are not intimidated by top talent and know that it’s in everyone’s best interests including their own, to hire the bet people it is possible to find for their team. A majority (74.6%) of regional professionals say they don’t mind hiring a candidate who is more qualified, skilled and capable than them as per Bayt.com’s Hiring Practices in the MENA Poll February 2012. Moreover, 59.6% of polled professionals wouldn’t mind hiring a candidate who is older and more experienced than them (Hiring Practices in the MENA February 2012).
10. Good enough isn’t good enough
If you want to stay competitive you need to aim for nothing less than the very best you can do. Seek perfection and even if you don’t achieve it; few do; at least you can aim to excel. You may not think of yourself as the most ambitious person in the world but that doesn’t mean you need to aim or settle for mediocrity.
11. Your attitude is your altitude
Remember it’s not just about the destination; it’s also about the quality of the journey; nothing will serve you more in optimizing both than a great attitude! Seek to stay positive and to spread good vibes and energy and always look at roadblocks as opportunities for growth and learning.
12. Reach for the stars
If you think you can do it you can! Just concentrate on the how’s, focus, persevere, and aim for nothing less than all you ever wanted to be!
(Photo bym00by on Flickr)