L’Oréal says ‘you’re worth it’
Nike says ‘just do it’
And I say ‘what they said’.
It’s easy to go through life, be content in your job, hope for something better to work out one day but think ‘it’ll happen in time’. But it’s not that easy. Good things don’t always come to those who wait. Sometimes you need to back yourself – because if you don’t, other won’t either.
This week I spoke as a part of a panel to a fantastic group of university students about transitioning from university to their career of choice. These students had made the admirable decision to invest in themselves, and put in the hard work (and expense) and attain a graduate or post graduate degree.
Formal university education is often what we think of in relation to getting the career we want, but in a competitive employment market, it is never enough. In my years in HR it has never been the letters at the end of an applicants name that have stood out. It’s when I can clearly see how much they’ve prioritised their own learning and development, beyond what is offered in tertiary study or as a part of their employment.
When giving advice to new graduates and people looking to take the next step in their career, my advice is always similar:
- Study can be your friend. But consider all options.
Many hiring managers highly value the right letters from the right school – and without knocking that, I think it’s important to consider your industry, where it’s headed and what your goals are. Want to be seen as an employment law expert? Then a Masters in HR with law as a major might be for you. If you’re not sure and just think it will be easier to land a job with an MBA? Proceed with caution.
- Don’t undervalue your professional association.
I’m a big advocate of professional associations, upon relocating to Australia from New Zealand five years ago AHRI was a magic bag of opportunity and learning. Likewise, over the past 3 years I’ve been a member of SHRM I’ve been exposed to a HUGE amount of learning and professional development. Don’t forget, it’s not just the professional development you may have access to, or the certification you may achieve (both worthy elements though) – but it’s the people who will share with you and help you grow that I think are the most valuable element of a good professional association.
- Use social!
You’re reading a blog right? There are so many better ones out there than this! I’m an (enthusiastic) amateur, I’ve learned so much from people in my field who share freely and offer advice, support – and sometimes even resources. The beauty of the internet? You don’t even have to attend a conference to be able to learn from it and connect with the attendees thanks to Twitter.
- Get outside your comfort zone.
Scared of public speaking? Think you can’t hack a secondment within the operations of your organisation? Afraid to put yourself out there by writing an article on LinkedIn? Just do it. Getting outside of your comfort zone is the perfect way to learn new things, whether you succeed or ‘fail’ (read: learn an important lesson about how to be more effective next time).
- Chase brilliant people.
The times that I’ve learned the most? When I’ve been partnered with great minds on pieces of work – an experienced nonprofit executive, a dynamic CEO, a GM who ran rings around everyone they worked with. Grab hold of roles and opportunities where you are surrounded by people who know their stuff. Because their smarts do rub off!
- Most importantly – provide opportunities for others.
Good things come to those who put their money where their mouths are. Want to take the next step? Provide assistance to someone who needs theirs. My most successful moments can all be traced back to someone else believing in me, offering my advice or an opportunity (and I’ll forever be grateful).