Personal Ingenuity + 3 Tips for Job Hoppers

TOP 3 POST INSIGHTS:

  1. Your early career is just one big brainstorm.

  2. The gig economy is looking for your 'expertise.'

  3. Find a hobby outside of work. 

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To some, 'The art of job hopping' sounds like a recipe for career suicide. To others (yours truly), it's a professional journey of personal ingenuity. 

WHAT IS PERSONAL INGENUITY?

I first heard about Personal Ingenuity on a podcast with Dr Srini Pillay, M.D Harvard psychiatrist. He answered the question ‘How can I justify my job hopping career?’. Obviously, there’s a fine line between lack of commitment and self-awareness to leave a job. But he described (well I interpreted) Personal Ingenuity as the journey of reinvention. Each job we learn a little more about what we like, what we’re good at, what’s soul-crushing and what inspires us.

Even the titans of our society like Oprah, Elon Musk and Ariana Huffington didn't have linear career paths. They all dabbled into different jobs, industries or passion projects. Each time learning a bit more about themselves; ultimately leading to where they are today.

So why is Personal Ingenuity important? I think now more than ever, it's important for us to be adaptable. We live in a gig economy where no job is safe. Employers want expertise and in order to find your expertise, you may need to try different jobs or activities to discover it. I'm not advocating serial job-hopping, but like dating, the first person you date is rarely 'the one.'

 

CONFESSIONS OF A JOB HOPPER

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Hugo Boss suits sales assistant (ie.  Dishing out compliments to wives and kids), Sky News intern (aka. coffee runner and lunch fetcher), PR intern, brand marketing strategist, freelance social media strategist and now part time digital nomad/ part time finance news presenter. That's my career path in a nutshell. 

Over the last 9 years, there’s been a f*ck load of shit jobs and condescending comments thrown at me. But there’s also been some really reallllyyy great moments, like my first real presentation to an executive board, promotions, access to unofficial senior mentors, one too many afternoon drinking benders and (successful) hungover pitches.

In the last two years, probably one of the biggest things I've learned is that I'm better at pitching than actually doing the work. That's not to say I'm a sh*t worker. I just light up more when I'm speaking with people or bouncing ideas. However, I also don't want to be a full time sales woman because I actually like having something tangible to do. So today, I find myself half presenter/ half social strategist. To be honest, I'll probably have a totally different career in 5 years but for now... 'I love working.' Three words I thought I'd never say!

 

3 TIPS FOR JOB HOPPERS

If you are in rut or thinking about a career jump, here's my 3 tips:

1. Don't be a Job Prostitute

Many people change jobs for a pay rise, without truly considering what the everyday work life looks like. Sure, it’s great for about 3 months, you're earning more dosh and all. But shortly after, the reality of a job always unravels. I once went to a niche consultancy to earn more cash, then realised it was so incredibly boring. I missed seeing the action of big projects come to life and the everyday conversations with different people in the office.

So before you take a pay rise, think about the what the job will look like in 4 months? What skills have you upgraded? What does the everyday mundane look like? Will this job benefit me professionally and personally? Think of jobs as a personal investment. What's going to benefit you in the long term? You can always earn more money, but experience and opportunities are a dime a dozen. So don't be afraid to try something new and quit if your gut tells you something's wrong. Don't just do it for the money, don't be a job prostitute.

2. Prepare for the Lifestyle of the Job

In cliché terms think: Wanker bankers, PR bitches, advertising alcoholics. Haha. To caveat, these are just stereotypes! Not everyone is a cliché from their industry. Just remember, when you join a workplace, you’re also going to be exposed to the lifestyle. There are always pros and cons. Pros might be growing your network, attending events, flexible hours having a prestigious firm on your resume etc. Cons might be 15 hour days, dog eat dog colleagues, slave labour wage and no weekends. 

Additionally, consider the culture and stress levels in the office. As a young professional, culture is so important! It will determine how much you actually enjoy the job and how long you're likely to stick around (eg. if my old colleagues and I never had alcohol induced brain storm sessions, I def wouldn't have stuck around as long as I did!). The bosses and senior managers also give you an insight into what it takes to 'make it' at that company.  If it looks like they haven't slept in 3 days, if they're consecutively knocking back 15 hour days... know that could be you. I remember seeing an old boss of mine, she was successful by every corporate definition. However she was constantly stressed and her personal life was suffering. I realised I never wanted to compensate having a family/ relationship for a job. Don't get me wrong, life isn't fu*king full of rainbows all the time and nothing comes without hard work. But you also don't want to your obituary to just say: 'she was a great accountant.' 

3. Find a Hobby Outside of Work

Think about it, we spend 70% of our week at work. You’ll go crazy if there is nothing else to live for outside 9-5! So find a hobby. It can be anything from art classes, local footy teams, cycling clubs, or for me, it was joining Toastmasters. Not only are skills transferable from your passion to the workplace (ie. team sports & collaboration at work), but you’ll also get some sense of fulfilment. Having these hobbies or passions, might even course correct your professional life. Steve Jobs famously took a calligraphy course and it later changed the way personal computers integrated typography (Mac was the first computer with fonts).

“If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.”

Here's a that snippet from his Stanford Commencement speech:

When I joined Toastmasters in 2015, I did it because I loved storytelling and knew that I could present better at pitches. At the time, I had no idea I would dabble into presenting or speaking as a career. Since joining, I completed presenting course, did a TEDx talk and am now a presenter for online finance news. Funny how random things work out!

More and more I keep hearing wiser successful people say that they could never have imagined their career path would lead them to where they are today.  I think one of the best things about not knowing what you want in life, is going out and just doing sh*t. Exploring the world of opportunity. Think of your early career as one big brainstorm! Throw anything at the wall and see what sticks. Try whatever jobs and activities you think you might like, because sooner or later you're going to find clarity... and that my friends, is something worth working for. 

Do you have any career or job hopping advice/ questions? Leave a comment or shoot me an email! xx

Liz PalComment