Career Advice

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I just wrapped up The Career Summit. It was an online, virtual event where my friends and colleagues gave out real career advice. Specific. Actionable. Direct. Nothing fuzzy. They talked about feelings and dreams — but they also talked about how to take action and do stuff.

I think it’s fascinating how anyone who has ever had a job thinks he is a career advisor. This includes your dopey brother-in-law who hasn’t worked in three years but has an opinion on your search. And I love how the advice you get from one person contradicts another another person.

It looks something like this.

  • You should do a functional resume. It’s a good way to highlight your knowledge, skills, and abilities without showing how old you are.
  • You should do a chronological resume. A chronological resume is easier to read and is preferred by recruiters.
  • You should dye your hair to look younger. That gray makes you look like my Gramma. You’re only 41.
  • You shouldn’t dye your hair. If a company doesn’t want you for who you are, screw them.

It goes on & on.

The best thing I can tell you is to know who you are, know what you have to offer, and realize that there are five unemployed Americans for every job opening. Then you have to factor in the 66% of employed people who would consider a new job if the right opportunity was available. You are competing in a job market that leaves no room for error — and even if you’re perfect, the job might not be  yours. Some under-qualified-punk-ass-kid who went to college with the VP’s son might get the job.

So there is no secret answer to landing a gig no matter what anyone tells you.

  • Network? Sure.
  • Stay current on your skills? Of course.
  • Brush your teeth before an interview? Duh.

But you know all of those things. You’re not stupid despite what the media (and the Fairy Jobmother) thinks of you.

I would like you to stop blaming yourself for your unemployment. You are not the problem. You don’t need to be fixed. We have had record job loss in America. This is the worst period of economic activity since the Great Depression. Companies are hording cash and “doing more with less” even though U.S. corporations are on track for the biggest earnings growth in 22 years and the stock market is headed for its best back-to-back annual gains since 2004.

You’re not broken — it’s Corporate America that is broken.

So take it easy on yourself. You control very little during your job hunt, but you can control your anxiety. And you can stop taking horrible career advice from people who don’t know shit.

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