Today’s post is a part two and a continuation of a multi-part blog series on career planning.
Last week I identified the number one mistake people make when choosing an area of study and provided tips to help you with your decision making.
Today, I will be sharing some ways you can utilize your knowledge and skills acquired through higher education regardless of the area of study.
ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?
Once you’ve chosen an area of study, completed your studies whether it’s a 6 weeks course, a two-year program or a 3 or 4-year degree the next obvious and/or practical step would be to find a job. But what if you experience difficulties in landing the job of your dreams?
I know persons who were unemployed for up to one year after completing studies, had applied to several entities and did not receive a favourable response. This waiting period can become extremely frustrating and, I know how it feels when you are unemployed and trying to find work in an over saturated market.
You might contemplate giving up or taking a temporary job until you get what you desire. But, sometimes the process takes much longer than anticipated. How do you decide at what point to stop searching? Or what if you find a job but the remuneration package is not attractive.
You have to hustle hard. – Think of alternatives.
This brings me back to my point – the #1 mistake people make is not knowing how they intend to utilize this degree.
Yup – it’s that simple. We are under the microscope of society and the idea of just “having higher education” is impressive and pushes us one step ahead on the social ladder. However, the journey can be challenging and some of us do it for status –not that we really want to get that degree. Think about how you will use it to maximize your full potential?
If you recall, I did a short survey to capture opinions from several graduates for last week’s post. Here is what one Ph.D. Candidate had to say: “most careers are not perfectly planned but adequate preparation allows your access and create opportunities. Having a goal in mind at each stage makes creating the plan to achieve the goal easier, and increases your likelihood of success. A broad goal of any 1st degree is to acquire transferrable skills and participate in professional development opportunities that increase your competency and competitiveness to access opportunities for your intended next steps.” – Wainella Isaacs.
Wainella emphasizes that you have to make yourself marketable and always acquire transferrable skills. Formal education does not always prepare you for the world of work. When you get-out-there you have to learn on your own.
I wish someone had told me that school is a rite of passage and getting a job is the goal. The disparity is so apparent, and the reality of the workplace is nothing compared to what the book said. Each economy is different and they forgot to send me this memo. But I worked around it. I am still swimming and aiming for the top.
If you want to make use of your skills and not feel like your sleepless nights were in vain, it’s time to brainstorm.
If you are fed-up of mundane duties or working in an entirely different field, then these next few tips are for you.
And whether you land the job of your dreams or not, try these three main ways to make yourself more marketable.
- ENHANCE YOUR TRANSFERRABLE AND KNOWLEDGEABLE SKILLS THEN START CONSULTING
Remember Wainella’ advice about transferrable skills? What skills did you learn that can be applied to any job? Identify at least 5 core skills that you have and how you can make money from it.
Here are a few areas:
- If your background is in social sciences such as Business, Economics, Finance and/Accounting, do not stop there. These are highly demanded expertise in all organizations. You should pursue related courses, learn new programs (QuickBooks and other accounting software’s) and/or do a certification either in Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) or ACCA. I’d also recommend that you can reach out to businesses to see if they need outsourced services. Offer recommendations and provide realistic solutions to help improve their operational effectiveness. This can range from developing databases using Excel to keep records, track clients and ensure that they are aware of how the business is performing.
- Sales and Marketing are one of the core functions of every business. Once you have an innovative idea your next step is to identify your strategy to get it out there. How do you intend to penetrate the market, who are your target audience, how will you win them, what price will you offer and how will you keep them interested? Every business needs to engage in sales and marketing to raise brand awareness. You do not need a specialized marketing degree, however; you can leverage your business degree and do your own research to create a marketing plan for a business.
- Technical Expertise: As an engineer, you can offer advice to persons looking to build a home. Help them make wise decisions from choosing contractors, purchasing of materials and use of land in certain areas.
- If you are good at English, start writing for websites, online magazines or even start your own blog.
Whatever your background, look at ways you can impact others with it.
I did a two-day workshop on pricing, record keeping and cost of production for a small manufacturing firm who needed help in introducing their coconut oil to the market. Today they are one of the top local manufacturers of coconut oil in Dominica.
My next point in very important…
Do not and I repeat do not ever stop learning. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new. You have to be curious about the world in which you live in. Look things up. Google everything.
- SCHOOL YOURSELF AND IMPROVE YOUR PERSONAL TRAITS
Learning is a daily process. Do you have a positive attitude towards learning? I was reading a book by Austin Kleon he said something that really struck me, “school is one thing. Education is another. The two don’t always overlap. Whether you’re in school or not, it’s always your job to get yourself an education.”
Keep your transferrable skills relevant and maintain a positive mind-set. It is amazing how one skill on your resume can help you land the job of your dreams. Some skills are teachable and others are not. For example, you might have the technical background but not the soft-skills – that is managing people and/or getting along with them which poses a challenge for many. Improving on your soft-skills (depends on your personal traits) will make you so much more agreeable and resourceful because you can not only do the job but also motivate your colleagues or staff.
School yourself otherwise you will be left behind.
We live in a world where technology is growing rapidly and jobs which once required manual labour can now be done by a computer. Mostly everything can be done online.
Do not rely on book taught knowledge only. Teach yourself – listen to podcasts, enroll in online courses, watch YouTube videos on an entirely new area to learn something new. And during this process, apply what you have learned to retain it.
If you are constantly learning new things – you will be better prepared for many new opportunities that arise, whether it’s a speaking engagement on a particular topic or a new job.
Anecdotally, if you specialize in one area, at some phase in your life you will need some additional technical skills to move forward. Successful people are knowledgeable in multiple subject areas and have transferable skills and people skills. Some advantageous skills to improve on includes; leadership, interpersonal skills, decision-making, negotiation, time management, project management, marketing (including digital marketing), accounting, information technological skills, public speaking, communication skills and logistics management.
The thing is, when you school yourself, you will be an asset wherever you work, whatever you engage in and make an impact on whoever you interact with. What you learn cannot be taken away from you.
Stay tuned for next weeks’ article. I’ll be talking – workplace – getting the job and ethics in the workplace.