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From a young age, we’re faced with the question, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Regardless of the level of certainty in your response, the asker will likely proceed to offer some type of career advice.
Now, I’m a big believer in the importance of mentorship and will always lend my ear to someone speaking about his or her experiences. I would also, however, advise listening with a healthy dose of skepticism.
No two people are the same. Nobody else on this planet can get inside your head and see exactly what you want and value in a career. Some focus on the paycheck, whereas others want work-life balance or fulfillment through the work that they do.
Ultimately, you’re going to have to make some bold moves if you want to land your dream job. Doing so may go against much of the career advice you’ve heard to date, but big risks can lead to big rewards.
Here are five counterintuitive pieces of advice to help you land your dream job:
Join a Small Company
This piece of advice is counterintuitive because big companies are more prestigious and can offer more money. However, joining a smaller company with good growth potential in its early stages can put your career on a fast trajectory to the top.
As Google CEO Eric Schmidt told Sheryl Sandberg after offering her a job back in 2001, which she was unsure whether to accept, “’if you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, get on; don’t ask what seat.” She left the company seven years later having risen to the position of Vice President of Global Online Sales. Google grew from 1,000 employees at the time to about 60,000 today.
Don’t Focus on One Area
Try everything. You may not have discovered your true passion yet, and without gaining on-the-ground experience in a few different fields you may never find your true calling. After all, if you’re going to spend the rest of your life working in this area you should make sure it’s the one you like best – not just the first opportunity to which you were exposed. As your career progresses, there are undeniable benefits to honing a particular skill or gaining expertise in a specific field. Before you decide, make sure you try out as much as you can.
Don’t Seek Comfort
We’ve all heard the clichés about life starting when you step outside your comfort zone, but nothing could be truer when it comes to chasing your dream job. Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, asserts that “[a] person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” Keep that in mind as encouragement if you ever find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, like telling your parents you quit your job to start your own business.
Don’t Have a Plan B
Having a backup plan on the path to your dream job will only increase your chances of giving up before reaching your goal. When Plan A is the only option you have, you’re going to do everything you can to make it work.
I once heard a story of a Hollywood director who had fallen on tough times, and only had a few thousand dollars left to his name. Instead of using the money responsibly, he decided to throw one last party to celebrate in style. He ended up striking a deal at the party with one of the guests he hadn’t seen in a while, and he was back in business. Sometimes you have to take risks to reap rewards, and the biggest risks are when you go all in.
Throughout our entire lives, we’re reminded about the merits of modesty. Although this virtue may have a place on the dating scene, or in general, there’s absolutely no room for modesty in the pursuit of your dreams. Without a little shameless self-promotion you may never connect with those people critical to your career success. I’m not talking selfies. Rather, publish some articles, network like a boss, and don’t be afraid to let the world know of the amazing things you’ve done.