It seems to be all the rage amongst millennials that we’re all so obsessed with being “individual” and “unique” that no one’s really stopped to think about how we’re all the same. I think we’re all guilty of being unable to differentiate ourselves from the competition, and it’s all because we’re not thinking outside the box.
Still handing out a 2 page CV with your GCSE’s on it? Why not spend some time on a one page graphic? Write it on a cake? Find out the company you want to work for and wait outside to talk to the boss! It’ll make you stand out from the thousands of other applicants doing the same thing every day and shows an actual effort. Stop saying you’re original – be original.
Never try to be something you’re not. I started my professional career in sales. It took me 2 years to realise I am not a salesman. Sometimes I wistfully look back at the career path and wish it’d gone a different way, but it’s just not in me to sell.
I’m now in operations and management, organisation and structure fits me so much better. I can still talk to clients, attend meetings and hold conversations – but that’s just me. Be true to yourself. Don’t apply for jobs you know aren’t you, just because of money or prestige. You’ll get caught out very quickly and have a terrible time. Work out what you’re good at and own it. If I was a developer, a check-out clerk or a banker, I’d work my damnedest to make sure I was the best at it.
Be careful with this one, because there are a lot of companies out there that won’t like this. The point is, why do you do something the way you do? Why do you have a routine? Because it’s easy! But what if you stopped and thought about what you’re doing. Everything. You’d be exhausted, but chances are, there are better ways of doing things. Get it right and your company will love you. Get it wrong, and if you’re in the right place, no one would mind – because you’re innovating.
Look at the processes. Challenge the status quo. Try new things. Suggest new ideas. Talk to people, understand the supply chains, the logistics, the way things are done. How could they be done better? Faster? Cheaper? If you’re not in a position to be making these changes yourself, tell someone who is. Get it right and they’ll owe you one!
What’s the point in working a job you don’t enjoy? Sure, everyone needs to work to live, but money isn’t everything. I appreciate that not everyone are workaholics like us, but work that extra 10 minutes every evening. And don’t expect anything for it! Attitude is more important than ability and if you can demonstrate you’re an asset to your business, you’re going to be rewarded. Something needs fixing, fix it. You’re halfway through a job at 5pm – finish it!
If you’re not being challenged at work, it might be time to look for something else, or ask for more responsibility. And let’s be honest – what’s wrong with asking? The worst answer you’ll ever get is no. And then it’s your job to find out why, and address it! Spot opportunities that no one else has seen. Take risks that no one else will take. I’m lucky enough to work for a company that welcomes and embraces innovation and free thought, and if that’s your bag – you should be looking for that too. A company that doesn’t cap your progression on age or experience. Jump into everything you do headfirst and see what happens.
Whilst I’ve always done something similar in my own mind, I heard the perfect analogy of planning a few days ago. For everything in life, you should have a plan A and a plan B. Plan B is what you tell everyone, the plan that gets everyone fired up and excited. And Plan A is what’s keeping you awake at night – what you simply have to do to get by.
End the Pity Party and Work Hard
Our generation has it hard. With the economy being global and everybody fighting for the best opportunities, it’s harder than ever to get a job, let alone progress and a job you enjoy. But if you’ve got the smarts and the graft you’ll get there. All you need to do is make the effort. Stop moaning about how you can’t find a job with a master’s degree. Having worked in recruitment I’m all too familiar with the entitled graduate, somehow confused about how they can’t walk into a £40,000pa marketing role straight off the back of uni. Set your expectations low, over deliver and reap the rewards – because there’s always going to be someone else better, cheaper and more dedicated than you that’s more deserving.