Ten Career Essentials
Ten career essentials every grad needs to know that they probably didn’t hear in school. A refresher for the rest of us that need a little more joy on the job. Do you know the ten essentials?
Buckle Your Seat Belts!
Things are about to get interesting for roughly 1.8M college graduates across our nation that spent on average $80,000 – their own money, their parents money, or borrowed money to begin the next very exciting chapter of their lives.
Tapping into 25 plus years as a Director for large companies, here’s my short list of hindsight wisdom I learned the hard way. Ten things I believe will make a big difference in a college grads future success and a refresher course for the rest of us!
Ready, Set, Go!
#1 Get out and Stay out of Debt!
I have seen so many co-workers stay in jobs they hate, not speak up in meetings when they see something wrong, try to fly under the radar because they are afraid of losing their job. Living the better half of life stuck in fear. That’s what debt does. It makes us a slave to it. A DME (dummie) – debt motivated employee. This is a horrible way to go through life.
If our new grads could fast forward a few years to when the excitement of the new job wears off they’ll wish they learned this lesson early on in their career. Getting out of debt isn’t easy so start now. Have a plan. Drive that clunker to work even though you could get a new car loan for next to nothing. If it makes you feel better, slap a bumper sticker on it that says, “Don’t laugh its paid for.” Avoid eating out. Find a few extra roommates. Live the “unglamorous” post grad life so that you can get free from debt.
The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.
Proverbs. 22:7 (ESV)
#2 Say Thank You and Mean It!
When you get that formal offer letter and accept the job, you will most likely say “Thank you.” Thank you for what? Thanks for believing in me. Thanks for the opportunity. Thank you for choosing me out of the hundreds of applicants you received. Be careful to never let go of that spirit of gratitude. You’ll be tempted over time to drift into the deadly trap of entitlement.
Never forget that you can be replaced.
By the time you reach your one-year anniversary there will be a long line of eager new grads interested in taking your spot. Entitlement is a work cancer that saps your enthusiasm and gratitude. Once you slip into they owe me something mentality you will find yourself headed to a career stall. As long as you choose to stay in your job, remember to say thank you. It’s a gift from God.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thess 5:18 (ESV)
#3 Work Like a Consultant
I’ve learned a lot of great lessons as a self-employed consultant. You always have to demonstrate value. You’re paid to bring fresh ideas and perspectives. You have to be competent, likeable, and continuously market yourself. Imagine what would happen if every employee approached their job as if they were self-employed consultants. Work as though your job is your own business. View and treat your employer and co-workers as clients. Continuously earn their business! It would go a long way for your career and your witness.
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.
Colossians 4:5 (ESV)
#4 Don’t Be a Mary!
In business, the last one to leave the office doesn’t always finish first. Mary not only closed the office, she opened it. She worked a ridiculous amount of hours. She sold her soul to the company. In the end, Mary was demoted while others working their “fair” share moved ahead. Why? Mary didn’t have healthy work boundaries and she was taken advantage of. Wise push back promotes respect. You’ll need a healthy dose of discernment to know when to burn the candle at both ends and when to respectfully say no.
Moses? Father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.” Exodus 18:17-18 (ESV)
#5 Facebook Is Not for Co-Workers!
Linkedin is for business. Facebook is for friends and family. What happens on Facebook does not stay on Facebook! Nuff said.
One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless. Proverbs 14:16 (ESV)
#6 Light and Likeable
If I’m about to have open-heart surgery, I want a surgeon that is competent. A good bedside manner is a nice to have, not an imperative. In business, it’s almost the exact opposite. I have seen time and time again, corporate America choose to retain and promote likeability over competence. Having both is a homerun.
Remember this, no one wants to work with a jerk.
So ease up a bit in meetings. Laugh a little more. Listen. Seek to understand. Be that bright light in the room that everyone gravitates toward.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Romans 12:18 (ESV)
#7 Tithe First. Save Second.
It’s difficult to think about either one of those things when your entry-level salary barely covers your student-loan payments. Now is the time to budget with those two priorities in mind. What you do now will set a precedent for the rest of your life.
Everything we have comes from God. He will provide. So tithe!
You’re going to want to retire sooner than you think. So save!
Putting away something is always better than putting away nothing. And the best part, you’re putting away tax deferred money. Long story short, because its tax deferred you’ll hardly notice the impact in your paycheck. Meanwhile, you’ll reap the magical benefits of compound interest.
According to Michele DeGeorge, Financial Advisor with Ameriprise, “If a 20 year old begins to save $5,000 per year in a tax deferred account through age 70, earns a rate of return of 8% compounded annually he or she will have over $3M. Compare that to someone who waits another 10 years to begin saving, all else is the same, but the ending balance for this individual would be less than half of the savings accumulated by the 20 year old.” As Benjamin Franklin so aptly said, “Lost time is never found again.”
Moral of the story? Start saving now. You’ll be glad you did!
The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty. Proverbs 21:5 (ESV)
#8 Work Is What You Do – Not Who You Are!
Work is important but it’s not the most important thing. If you find yourself thinking about work more than you do God, your family, or your ministry, there may be an idol in the making. Work to live — don’t live to work.
Consider King Solomon’s conclusion?
What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity. Ecc. 2:22-23 (ESV)
#9 Be Bold in Your Faith!
Unless you work at a church, your faith will most likely put you in the minority of the working world. Can you talk about your faith at work? Should you talk about your faith at work? Before you answer those questions, consider this? The most important thing you can and should do at work is to act like Jesus. You should ooze His love, His compassion, and His integrity. When you do that, you’re going to get a lot of questions. When they ask, you answer.
That was my approach over the years. I may have at times been the butt of a few jokes. Co-workers routinely apologized when dropping the “f-bomb” in meetings. I wasn’t included in everything. But, my faith never hindered my advancement up the ladder. And I always enjoyed the fruit of my ministry labor every time someone walked in my office, shut the door, and said. “I know you’re a Christian. I have a problem. Would you pray for me?”
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15 (ESV)
#10 Remember Who You Work For
I know it sounds cliché, but I’m going to say it anyway, “Life isn’t always fair.” And neither is work for that matter. You might get saddled with a bad boss. Doors will open and close, sometimes for no apparent reason. You will be passed over for a promotion that you deserved. You may someday be wrongfully terminated. You may give it all you’ve got and fly up the work ladder or fall right off of it.
Whatever happens, keep your eyes on God. He is ultimately who we work for. We have to trust that He sees the whole picture. We trust in His sovereignty. We trust in His good plan for our lives.
Our job is to show up and put our very best foot forward, and trust Him with the outcome.
And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24 (NKJV)
And with that… Happy graduation! Now go change the world!!!