I was recently asked for suggestions to offer young people entering the workforce after graduating from university or college, or when making a job change early in their career.

Here’s the most important point of all – don’t try to get the “perfect” job as measured solely by salary, title, and benefits. Go where you will learn and grow via new experiences and exposure to interesting and challenging environments.

A career path no longer moves in a straight line that advances upward. I believe the phrase “learning for a living” has replaced “earning a living”. Flexibility, re-calibration, and acquisition of “soft” skills relating to communication, relationship building, and emotional intelligence must be counterpoints to technical competencies associated with STEM.

The following list is a thought-starter to provide perspective and ideas.

  1. Find a career path that relates to the application of your education – degree, diplomas, certificates, and past work experience.
  2. Secure a position that aligns with your strengths, innate talents, and passion for an outcome, purpose, or cause.
  3. Notice what isn’t working or personally and professionally fulfilling and start creating a “stop doing” list.
  4. Pursue X-training & up-skilling opportunities to become more valuable as an employee, colleague, and resource to your clients. This also creates empathy, understanding and respect for those in other roles, AND, it may reveal previously unknown interests and strengths that open a door to a new career path or expand your role and influence to other areas.
  5. Find a Ying to your Yang. Engage with people that provide differing viewpoints to avoid the echo chamber mindset and to explore and evaluate options you have not previously considered.
  6. Get several coaches, supporters, and mentors. Ideally someone with relevant career, and industry experience and someone who sees the world from a perspective you have not considered.
  7. Utilize personality, strengths & talents, and aptitude assessments that help answer the question of “What should I do for a living?” The more you know about yourself, the greater the chances of working from your core and finding a job that grounds and fulfills you!

Life is full of change and opportunities. Growth is optional. Choose carefully!