5 Career Success Strategies When You Start From Nothing
There are 5 career success strategies you need to follow when you are building your career and life from nothing. Follow them consistently and you will likely see your peers trying to catch you by the tail.
In the recent article, we spoke about the confidence myth. We discussed why confidence is not a vital ingredient for success, despite popular belief. In this article, lets dive deeper into what is a recipe for career success, especially if you are starting with very little.
You cannot control the circumstances of where you started but you can make the most with what you have
First, let me share a personal story. When I was a business analyst I remember how uncomfortable I felt whenever consultants talked about where they studied or where they previously worked. I felt my background was embarrassing.
At the time, I was completing an undergraduate degree from an unranked university. I had to complete that degree part-time because my music diploma was not recognized in the West.
And my job prior to joining the consulting firm was a receptionist and an office manager at a tiny defense company because my piano degree was not recognized in the West and this is the best job I could find after 8 months of full time searching. This was naturally something I tried very hard to avoid talking about with my colleagues.
So my reputation with my colleagues was not built on brand names or paper accomplishments.
And initially, I did not have a very strong reputation. But I just got the job done as well as I could. And after a few months, people would say, “Lets put Kris on to this project. We know if we put Kris onto this, the job will get done”. And that is the way I built my reputation.
And that is what I want you to remember. Career success in large part is determined if people give you opportunities and want to work with you. If you want to succeed don’t be held back by where you start. You cannot control the circumstances of where you started your life but you can take control of making the most with what you have been given.
You just have to focus on being the best you can be in every role. Get the job done really well. And soon you will develop a reputation for that important ability and opportunities will open up to move to the next level. And career success breeds career success.
It took me just 12 months to get promoted because of my reputation. And then I got promoted again in another 5 months.
5 career success strategies
There are 5 career success strategies that I would give to people who have a background similar to mine, or worse.
Career success strategy #1 – Just do it
Number one is – just do it. It’s not an advert for Nike. But you just need to do things.
Don’t say, “I am going to do it only when I feel confident and only when I will have the right accomplishments under my belt” because that time may never come.
There are people who are very successful and lack confidence. It’s not as if being successful makes you 100% confident. And you certainly don’t need to be confident to be successful.
And if you wait for confidence you can end up waiting for most of your life or indefinitely.
If you take action now, before you think you are ready, you will learn more, you will develop your reputation for being reliable and more and more opportunities will come to you.
You will not be perfect, but you will be getting better every day. And that is what counts.
Career success strategy #2 – Be a life-long learner
Career success strategy number 2 is to be a life-long learner. If you go in knowing you don’t have the skills but you are still going to do it, you need to be prepared to learn as you go.
A lot of us want to go to some prestigious MBA program like Harvard, pick up the skills, enter the workforce, and assume the training period of our lives will be over. We assume we have completed our studies and we can now just use what we have learned to achieve career success.
Yet, I can tell you right now, when I went into banking very little of what I learned during my MBA was directly or even indirectly applicable.
So you can’t say I am going to finish my studies and I will go through life and apply those skills. You need a process for constantly learning and upgrading your skill set.
Career success strategy #3 – Focus on results
Career success strategy number 3 is focus on results. Many of you, just like I did, are starting from humble beginnings. If you are, don’t fall for the trap of thinking that you are unworthy.
If you look at my background I would not have had the kind of life I ended up having if I had accepted what other people said should have been my likely path.
Do things and get results. Even if it is a very small role somewhere, where you are sitting in a little shop selling handsets for cell phones or something similar.
You can do an amazing job, no matter what this job may be. Once you do an amazing job more opportunities open up. And eventually, you will get a breakthrough opportunity. You just need to be ready to seize it.
Career success strategy #4 – Don’t compare your profile
Career success strategy number 4 is don’t compare your profile.
Worry less about whether you have a great degree or impressive work experience. Because the reality is that there is always going to be someone with a better profile than yours.
If you worry about your school not being ranked high enough and not have experience working at major companies, you just focus on what you do not have. Remember that if you are good you will be successful regardless of the ranking of your school. Let this give you some comfort.
Career success strategy #5 – Be ready for hard work
Career success strategy number 5 is to be ready for hard work. If you build a career on a foundation of getting things done, you have to work harder and it may take longer.
I remember when I went onto my first study in consulting l couldn’t really talk about my background because I did not have a suitable background.
It was terribly embarrassing. This was one reason I did not socialize as much. I had a reputation to protect.
In the short-term, all the consultants with better backgrounds who went to great universities appeared to do better than me. That was quite depressing.
But as I focused on the work and got things done every time, pretty soon people did not worry about my background. I just received promotion after promotion ahead of people with great degrees.
But this takes hard work because you cannot rely on your resume. You need to constantly demonstrate your competency.
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