Career Advice for the Class of 2011

Yesterday’s Huffington Post had an article written by Arianna Huffington entitled “Dear Class of 2011: Good Luck…You’re Really Going to Need It.” 

In the article Ms. Huffington cited the fact that 2011 graduates will have high student loan debt and face a tough job market – not a great combination.  Reason enough for pessimism.

On the other hand, I have helped a lot of young graduates over the past few years.  And I’ve found that the ones who really put their mind to it – my niece Brett McIlwain, and a young woman named Ellie Santisi come to mind – find jobs in their field, find them within a few months of graduation and go on to create their life and career success.

Findinf a job in this tough economy is not easy, but it can be done.  The important thing is excelling in your job after you land it – creating the life and career success you want and deserve.

I have developed a little model that has seven keys to life and career success that we all – not just new graduates – need to put into play in order to create our career success.

Take a look…

Clarify the purpose and direction for your life and career.

  1. Develop your personal definition of life and career success.
  2. Create a vivid mental image of your life and career success.
  3. Clarify your personal values.

 Commit to your life and career success.

  1. Take personal responsibility for your life and career success.
  2. Set high goals.  Do whatever it takes to achieve them.
  3. Stuff happens.  Choose to respond positively.

 Build unshakeable self-confidence.

  1. Choose optimism.
  2. Face your fears and act.
  3. Surround yourself with positive people.
  4. Find a mentor to help you create your life and career success.
  5. Mentor others.

 Become an outstanding performer.

  1. Master your technical discipline.
  2. Become a lifelong learner.
  3. Manage your time, life and stress well.
  4. Live a healthy lifestyle.

 Create positive personal impact.

  1. Build and nurture your personal brand.
  2. Be impeccable in your presentation of self.
  3. Actively manage your on line presence.
  4. Know and follow the basic rules of business etiquette.

 Become a dynamic communicator.

  1. Develop your conversation skills.
  2. Develop your writing skills.
  3. Develop your presentation skills.

 Build strong, lasting, mutually beneficial relationships.

  1. Get to know yourself.
  2. Pay it forward.
  3. Resolve conflict constructively.
  4. Become a team player.

As you can see, these keys to career success aren’t rocket science.  They’re common sense.  Persistence in their application is the thing that will differentiate the successful from the non-successful.

I tell my career success coach clients that they need to be pretty good at all seven of these keys – and really excellent in two or three of them. 

Here’s what I suggest you do.  Go through each of the items, ask yourself “am I good at this?” or “do I need to work on this?” 

For now, forget about the ones you think you’re good at – I hope they’re in the majority.  Take a look at the ones you need to work on.  Prioritize them.  Decide which one is most critical to your career success – then go about developing your skill level in it.

Let’s say you decide that you really suck at resolving conflict constructively – that your little disagreements tend to drag on and on.  If this is the case, spend some time reading about conflict resolution, watch people you know who are good at resolving conflict, ask a friend or your boss for help and advice.  Do whatever you need to do to turn a liability into a careeer success asset.

Once you’ve mastered your most pressing shortcoming, work on the next one.  After you get the point where you feel that you are pretty good at all 26 of the items on the list above, pick one and work at making it a real strength.

The trick is to be patient and keep working.  First, deal with your weaknesses.  After you have eliminated all of your weaknesses work on turning your competencies into real career success strengths.

The career success coach point here is simple common sense.  If you want to create your career success, you have to honestly evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.  Work on eliminating weaknesses first.  Then focus on turning your competencies into real career success strengths.  This can be hard work.  It can be tedious work.  But trust me, it is important work that will pay off in the long run.  This work will lead to a lifetime of career success.

That’s my career advice on taking a hard look at your strengths and weaknesses – and doing something about them.  What do you think?  Please take a minute to leave a comment, sharing your thoughts with us.  As always, thanks for reading my daily thoughts on life and career success.  Have a good weekend.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, you can download a free copy of my latest career success book Success Tweets Explained.  It’s a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to to claim your free copy.

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  1. Thanks for That! really good development plan!

    I am good at most of it, some of my skills are probably outstanding, but i luck skills in building and maintaining strong relationships, in effect my Bart-Brand suffers.
    Its difficult to cope with this problem because my intellect is too strong for an avarege person of my age while all lecturers, professors and guys over 50 admire my ‘gift’! Its great but has negative effect on my life and career as well, because people look at me as i were thinking im better or sth. Some employers make it clear they dont look for an individualist, they want a machine.

    After this read I commit myself to PERSISTENCE & RELATIONSHIP builbing!

  2. Good for you Bart:
    It is never a bad thing to be too smart.
    Keep working on buildinb those relationships.
    All the best,

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