What do you want to be when you grow up? Such a narrow question for a such a naive mind. What DID you want to be when you were a kid? It’s amazing the disparity or alignment of answers to reality there are. I’ve met and read about people who have known what they wanted to be for as long as they could remember. I’m sure you’ve met plenty of people in the same boat. Always wanted to be an architect, a doctor, or a vet…and became that and that’s that. For most people, though, it’s a journey. You get asked that question when you’re young so you can explore the things that interest you, and develop as a person based on your strengths and interests. But this question is usually asked in a vacuum. The realities of this world aren’t a factor, it’s very idealistic to ask someone (usually a child) this and solicit a response that may or may not be pursued professionally as an adult. Especially in college, the students pursuing a degree in whatever profession, are almost totally unaware of the realities of that profession in the real world. It’s an isolated, idealistic exercise. A better way to frame this question is to take a look back. It’s impossible to tell the future, but it’s productive to look back and reevaluate. What advice would you give your younger self now? You’ve come a long way in your career….or not. You may just be discovering your calling. Either way, we often tell ourselves “if only I knew then, what I know now”. What would that be? Here’s a letter I wrote to my younger self.
You’re going to be asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” A lot. Here’s some bits of knowledge that I wish someone told me when I was pondering this question.
You are strong and strong-willed. Don’t question this. Don’t ever sacrifice your passions for the norm. This will define who you are and what you do for the rest of your life. You will never be a half-ass kind of person, trust your gut and attack it. Full-on. Do what you do best: be creative. It’s a skill that will be valuable beyond your imagination. It’s what separates the interesting from the status quo, the successful from the forgettable.
It’s going to be a lifelong pursuit to figure out what you really want to do in life in respect to your career. So don’t be discouraged when you are stepping out into the unknown. As long as you’re challenging yourself and making yourself stronger and better. Mistakes make you you. Complacency is the root of all evil. I’m still figuring it out. But one thing’s for sure: There are plenty of people out there that value learning and want to teach people what they have learned from. Reach out to people and connect. That’s one mistake you will make in your college and early post-college years. Thinking “I’m strong enough to do what I want, by myself. As long as I give it my all.” It’s commendable but you’ll get where you want much faster and it’s more rewarding when you are part of a network, connected to the people that have their feet planted in the industry. Social networking is very important, use the tools you have and do what ya gotta do. There’s no wrong way, but there usually is a better way.
Your 32-year-old Self.
What would you say to your younger self? It’s an interesting way to take a look at yourself from a removed perspective. Even if you’re looking at yourself only a year ago, or 5 years ago, there are likely some things you’d tell your younger self to pay more attention to, or perhaps spend less time dwelling on. It’s a fun and constructive way to be improve yourself today. The past is the past but when it comes to the future you should set yourself up for better opportunities and perhaps your dream job. You are likely already on the path of your dream career. But when it comes to your dream job, recruiters won’t be able to find you if you aren’t readily searchable. Here are some steps you can take using social media to ensure you can be found even if you aren’t actively seeking a new job opportunity.
- Update your brand online: Most employers and recruiters review your social media presence online as a prerequisite before considering someone for a position. This the only “you” there is online. So keep that in mind, and go through all your personal and professional social networks for consistency. Make sure this is the you you want any potential employer or recruiter to see. A bit more on personal branding here: Bring Your Own Brand
- Keep an on-going list of professional accomplishments. And update them regularly. Then sit down once a year and update your resume and Linked-in Profiles with this list. It’s easier to keep this an on-going habit. Most people don’t update these until they are actively seeking new employment. At this point, you don’t/can’t remember everything and a scrambling mind-set will not produce the best results.
- Stay connected AND visible on Linked-in. Being the top social media platform for your professional network, Linked-in provides a platform with some great tools that will enable you to network professionally and stay connected. Join Groups and comment in discussions that are interesting to you and pertinent to your industry. Follow companies you are interested in on Linked-in. This allows you to get the latest updates from the company linked-in page on your home feed. You can like and reshare posts and make comments on these updates as well.
- Provide all your social media links all in one place. This is a no-brainer but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t do this. Make it easy for people who are interested in you, to look you up online. Your resume and linked-in profile should have a section that points to all your networking urls- be-it your Online resume, twitter url, Facebook link, e-mail, etc. In today’s world, phone number and e-mail are not enough. The Biggest, Little Mistake Sales People Make With Their Resume: Don’t make this mistake on your resume.
Stay ahead of the curve and use these social media tips to get yourself closer to your dream job. Or at least in a position where you won’t miss a great opportunity. *Here are some additional references that will help you improve your professional presence online: