7 age old career advice you should ignore today

Having a mid-life crisis, it can look sexy. Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

I’m 32, recently unemployed, and starting over.

I’m in a yoga retreat in Thailand with my savings and an open mind because sitting at home on the couch was not really a great option.

It’s glorious.

It’s also scary AF.

I have all the time in the world to think, to reflect, and look at where I am today. Advice is a funny thing. It’s only as useful as you know how to wield it. Looking back, there are a few choice pieces of advice I probably should have thought through differently.

what do you want to be when you grow up?

1. People sieve out “job-hoppers” when they recruit, so stick to one job for a “decent” amount of time.

I thought I got smart with this one. The longest job I’d stayed in was one I made sure offered different challenges year on year so I was not stagnant in a role while committed.

What I came to realise was, same shit different day. Sure I tackled different challenges which were hugely beneficial to my overall growth, but the minute I was good at a piece of work I was pigeonholed. I was in an industry that was notoriously traditional and slow to change. The environment didn’t change, so I didn’t learn anything additional. I learned to adapt.

Varied environments (startups vs traditional, large MNCs vs boutique) and jumping into adjacent industries exposes you to much more experience than staying put in one job. There is a only one right time to hop out: when you can do your work with your eyes closed.

2. People hire for experience.

Experience does matter, but I’ve come to learn it does not matter as much as mindset. You will get experience in time no matter what and you can’t roll the clock forwards. A fixed mindset however is hard to change.

Employers are also wising up to hiring for growth potential and not just the CV with the best skill-based experience.

3. “People leave bosses not companies”.

A great boss or leader goes without saying is one of the key factors many people find satisfaction in their jobs. But gone are the days when you are hog-tied to a particular position or role in a company if you find yourself under a tyrannical boss or a boss who overlooks their role in helping you achieve success and to grow.

In my early jobs, my options were — quit and walk out. *mic drop* But that’s not the way to confront problems. In my later years I learned to voice and resolve conflict amongst team and superiors directly. Give people a chance, and be the person that brings it. This puts the responsibility on every employee to build the culture and organisation they enter.

4. Join a well-known, large company or MNC.

This one is a mixed bag, because there’s a ton of professional benefits being in an established organisation. If Nike or Google wants to hire you, you say yes right? Sometimes it’s about where you are in your career. Large organisations can be set in their ways, struggle to pivot or respond to market forces, or aren’t agile enough to experiment. You get that chance in smaller companies where you can really experiment and build your portfolio.

5. Build a CV.

Build your persona and your portfolio, not just a CV. Be someone others recognise and want in their companies, not the other way around. A CV becomes a due diligence for recruitment.

6. Build a career.

A career is a bit of a dirty word. It imbues in people a sense of inadequacy when they don’t have it, or if they just have a “job”. A career also sometimes becomes a noose, fixing you to a job, role or trajectory on an upwards ladder.

Think about what challenges you want to have overcome when you’re 40, 50 or 60. These are likely what you’ll find define your successes instead of a blanket “great career”.

7. Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities.

Yes, but also, you can make opportunities happen for yourself. A self-starter mentality was not in the “Asian tiger mom’s guide to raising kids”. Regardless of whether you’re an entrepreneur, cultivating this one attitude signals self-motivation, independence, grit and judgement more than anything else.