What I would say if they allowed me to speak during Career Day at school.
1. Don’t live a lukewarm life and expect to find a career. Be the very best and seek every honest advantage to separate you from the others.
2. Get all the training you can as young as you can – and even that won’t guarantee you a job. A college degree matters more than ever. But more than that, don’t miss any opportunity to learn a skill, even if you think you will never need it. Get any vocational training available to you.
3. Start good habits early. Clean your room, be nice to your mom and don’t overreact at home. The little things transform to big habits when you become an adult. And not just at work. Volunteer any chance you get and don’t settle for less than your best effort at school.
4. Practice integrity in every corner of your life. Live what you say you believe. Always. Without fail.
5. Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and eat right. More and more workplaces demand more from employees with less compensation. Expect stress to come at you from every corner of your life. Take care of yourself, physically and mentally.
6. Don’t blow the job opportunity of a lifetime because of shoddy application materials. They should be close to perfection as possible. Have another adult read every word for context and typos. Then repeat the process with somebody else. Then do it again. Does your cover letter and resume identify your unique selling points in the most concise way possible?
7. Before a potential employer calls for an interview, practice over and over again your responses. When they call, act like you’ve been expecting to hear from them. Don’t be the young man who said to me after a pause, “ya, I guess I have a few minutes to speak with you.”
8. It IS who you know. Any chance you get in the virtual or real world, network with people. You never know if they could help you find a job or be your future employer.
9. Make sure to check your Internet skeletons at the door. Employers will check your Facebook, and Google your name. Don’t let a questionable post or embarrassing photo mar what would be otherwise impeccable credentials.
10. The perfect career isn’t always about the most money. Life isn’t about getting the best job. It’s about becoming the best human being you can be — whether that means the best dad, neighbor, husband or man who walks the dog. Do all you can to find the right career to help you do that.
Thanks for listening.