Do you have a job, or a career? If you’re asking yourself what the difference is, this post is for you.
Both are sources of income, but that’s where the similarities end. A career is a job, but a job isn’t necessarily a career.
- Has a long-term focus
- May require special skills or experience
- Often includes salaried positions with premium benefits
- Can span multiple jobs across multiple companies
- Has a short-term focus
- Usually doesn’t require special skills or experience
- Is paid an hourly wage (sometimes a salary) with few benefits
- Is an isolated work experience with one employer
No one wants to be stuck in a dead-end job, but life happens. Whether your career got off track or never got started, here are a couple tips for pursuing a more rewarding line of work.
How to start your career from scratch
Research possible careers and industries
The first step for going from job to career is learning about your options. If you’re going to make your next move your best move (which is highly recommended, I’m told), you need to be comfortable with the change that’s about to occur.
The only way to do that is to be mentally prepared.
The internet’s a pretty neat place to look up information – I suggest you start there. However, don’t fall into the trap of looking for a job again. Instead, you want to:
- Find industries that involve work you find interesting or inspiring
- Look for roles that align with your skill set and have opportunities for growth
- Identify companies that you could work many years for in different roles
When that’s done, ask your friends and family about their jobs and tell them the kind of work you’re be interested in. If that’s no good, you’ve got your work cut out for you in the next section.
Build your network with people you trust and admire
When I started college, I thought the networking thing was overrated. I thought I would be hard working, qualified and charming enough to just knock out my interviews and have multiple job offers waiting for me.
Let’s just say that didn’t work out.
I got my first job after a friend from college referred me to one of his friends. I corresponded with my new contact via email several times and the insight he gave me was invaluable. I got the offer from his company and we worked at the same office for the next 4 years.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a strong network of people that you trust and admire. These people will teach you things you won’t learn in school and they’ll put you in touch with other people who can advance your career.
And don’t think your network is limited to people you already know. If you know what industry you want to work in, find people in that industry to network with! All you need to do is:
- Introduce yourself (in person or via email)
- Tell them your interest in the company/industry/role
- Ask if they have 15 minutes to speak over the phone or meet for coffee
It’s really that simple. Some people will say no and some people won’t respond, but the ones that do can change your future forever.
Polish up your resume and LinkedIn
A great interview can get you a job, but a great resume gets you the interview. If you want to start your career from scratch, your resume needs to look as professional as possible.
Luckily for you, I’ve already put together a resume-building guide that’s designed to produce a clean and effective resume.
If you haven’t visited LinkedIn.com yet, it’s time to create that profile. This website is the largest professional networking platform on the planet. LinkedIn is crucial for maintaining your career’s presence, finding jobs and building that network of yours.
Your profile should be a reflection of your resume. You want to tell people about your experiences, accomplishments, and where you want to take your career next. Here’s how to get started:
- Upload a professional head shot for your profile picture
- Fill in the “Summary” section with a couple paragraphs about your experience and career aspirations
- Add your best jobs to the “Experience” section and list 3-4 bullet points (like you would on your resume)
Don’t over think things! People want to see that you’re focused, dedicated, and qualified. Your resume and LinkedIn profiles will help them see that.
Develop your skill set
No matter who you are, there’s always a new skill to learn. Education is great, but tangible skills are what separates the promising employees from the superstars.
The skills you’ll want to develop will largely depend on your desired industry, but some translate to nearly any career:
- Public speaking
- Business writing (reports, emails, etc.)
- Customer service
- Working in a team
A willingness to learn new things is one of the most important traits you can possess. Focus on improving a little bit every day and your potential will be limitless.
Ask for internships
Internships are important. First of all, they give the employer a chance to see how you work and how you’ll fit in with the company. Secondly, they help you determine if you like the company and the line of work. Last but not least, they look good on your resume.
I never got an internship in college and that was a major hurdle when I was trying to get hired for my first job. The reason why is that between two equal candidates, companies like to hire employees who are lower risk. Because of the experience an internship brings, those candidates often get the advantage.
Asking for internships is a lot like networking with people you don’t know. In fact, you approach it the same way, but now you want to:
- Make sure you speak with a decision maker
- Ask if any internships are available
- Let that person know how much you’d appreciate that opportunity
If you can get a paid internship, that’s wonderful. If you can’t, it’s still a great idea! Companies love to hire interns as full-time employees. One great internship experience could be your introduction to a brand new career.
Can you make the commitment to yourself?
Nothing worth having comes easy, so don’t settle for a job you can’t stand when your potential is so much greater. If you can sacrifice short-term enjoyment for long-term fulfillment, you’ll figure out how to start your career from scratch.
So where are you in the process? What career are you shooting for? If you need help along the way, Home at 30 is dedicated to helping you succeed!
All opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of Home at 30 and are in no way affiliated with any other organization or institution. The purpose of this blog is to give general education and information about investing, wealth, careers, and college; It is not intended to be professional advice.
Author: Josh Ramos
Josh has paid off $130k in student loan debt in 4 years. By founding Home at 30, he wants to help end the student debt crisis by helping students and young professionals make decisions that will reward them for a lifetime.