As your career success coach, I’m always looking for helping career advice. Here’s a guest post from my friends at accountingedu.org. It makes some great common sense points about life and career success.
Career Success: How Education Can Help Accelerate Your Career
If you’re a job or promotion seeker scrapping it out for your piece of the pie, it might not come natural at first to keep your mind trained on what you have to give. Keep in mind, though, that it’s the things that you have to offer that are really key to your success.
Pundits have told us that the unemployment rate shot to 8.2% in May, and that the economy and job market is again showing signs of stagnation. However, this statistic is a bit misleading in its one-size-fits-all assessment of the American employment situation. The good news is that there are actually two job markets out there: one for those that have something unique to offer to employers and prospective employers, and one for those who don’t.
In an eye-opening piece titled “Unemployment Data Highlights Growing Educational Divide,” MSNBC columnist, Allison Linn, revealed a statistic that is rarely discussed. While it is certainly true that the unemployment rate for the entire country stands at 8.2% for the second consecutive month, the employment rate for college graduates has fallen to 3.9%. In fact, some degree-holding job candidates have described fielding multiple job offers in recent months, a situation unheard of since before the onset of the Great Recession in 2008.
It would appear that knowledge is still king if you’re looking for leg up in today’s struggling economy. Going out and earning an undergraduate degree, or extending specialization through a graduate program will most certainly set you apart from the crowd, but there are more immediate and accessible ways to acquire valuable knowledge and showcase your past successes. Remember, knowledge is the product of both education and experience.
Everybody understands the value of a firm handshake and a confident demeanor. All too often, though, people make the mistake of wearing a sort of practiced confidence with little to back it up. An experienced interviewer can spot this a mile off. But consider the value of building confidence on a foundation of real knowledge specific to your industry. And consider making a new appraisal of the value of what you’ve learned from your past experiences.
Being familiar with the business philosophies of leaders within your industry, and at ease discussing topical issues, will leave an impression on employers that no amount of demonstrative confidence ever could. The good news is that some of the most valuable information is now easily accessible, either completely free online or for a modest price at a local bookstore.
Successful people are eager to share their wisdom, and their wealth of knowledge is often available to us even without access to university libraries and lecture halls. The proliferation of professional publications, including textbooks, technical manuals, and theoretical dissertations that have become widely available in recent years is proof of this phenomenon. You would be greatly remiss not to dive in and soak up knowledge of the history, development, and current state of your professional field.
For more digestible, daily kernels of wisdom, look to professional blogs, online journals, and industry news websites. The Bureau of Labor Statistics www.bls.gov provides information compiled by the US Department of Labor from surveys conducted with professional representatives from hundreds of different job types, organized under dozens of different occupational classifications. Industry-specific websites, like www.accountingedu.org, offer information on current developments related to methods, policy, and law in a given field.
As the cliché goes, experience is the best teacher. And, as any human resource manager will be quick to tell you, experience is also the best way to determine your viability as a job candidate. You can earn degree after degree, but if you cannot demonstrate the ability to practically apply your knowledge to a productive workday, then those achievements hold little water.
If you’ve spent years in one position, you may not realize how your existing portfolio of successes might translate both conceptually and practically to a new employer. New terminology has saturated the American workplace in the last few decades, carving out new roles from a set of traditional skills. For example, if you have ever worked in middle management, you have no doubt been involved in organizing employees around a goal that you independently conceptualized, implemented, and monitored. This series of tasks is, in fact, “project management.” What you might have viewed as just part of the job is actually one of the most sought after experience qualifications employers are looking for. This is not just a matter of recasting your resume in contemporary language. This is about realizing the value of the knowledge you’ve gained from your experiences.
In the end, you must take ownership of your education if you want to be successful. This could conceivably mean carefully selecting the right degree program, but it will most certainly mean understanding the value of your experience and positioning yourself as a perpetual student within your field. Knowledge really is power when it comes to accelerating your career.
This is some great common sense career success advice from my friends at accountingedu.org. My thanks to them for providing this guest post.
My thanks to you for taking the time to read my daily musings on life and career success.