The #1 trait employers really want

career advice for college majors

Be positive, even when you are not.

It was the middle of August and I was working my first real hard job.

They had taken us up in trucks through a deep valley and into the back mountains of Revelstoke, British Columbia. We were brushing, which means you get a small blade and slowly climb over bramble and rocks and fallen trees, cutting away overgrown grass from newly planted trees.

This was our first day brushing, my friend and I. We were terrible at it. And had a lot to prove to the foreman.

Three things that define brushing:

  • The mountains are burning hot and you sweat and climb.
  • It’s fieldwork. Steady and paid by quantity of work.
  • It’s hard, boring, and tiring work.

By the end of the first day, my friend and I climbed off the cutblock and walked along the mountain road. We were tired and walked slow.

The truck appeared around the corner. My friend gave me this piece of advice which has helped me all my career. He said, “run and look positive.”

At the end of a long day, you expect a worker to be sluggish and complaining about their blistered feet. You don’t expect them to run down the mountains and jump into the truck happy and energetic.

So we jogged towards the truck. I didn’t feel like running. I wanted to complain about how hard the day was, how hot the day was, how much brushing sucked.

This impressed the foreman. At the end of the contract, he shook our hands and told us we could come back anytime for a job.

This taught me four career lessons:

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Join me for a live webinar on finding a career with your humanities degree – Feb 28th

Join me and the Versatile PhD Group in Boston as I deliver a live webinar on February 28th, 2015.

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The webinar is called, “A Roadmap to Using Your PhD in a Career Outside of Academia.” The date is Saturday Feb 28, 2015. 12:30 PM Eastern Time.

  • I’ll share a roadmap for marketing your PhD outside academia
  • Learn the 4 types of companies that need PhDs
  • Very practical steps you can take

How to Register 

If you have questions about joining, please contact @VPhDBoston or contact their group. I’m only presenting and not handling the registration.

See you there!

Another reader of my book gets a job – thanks for emailing me these stories

This weekend, I received this email. Thank-you for sending me your stories. It’s good to know smart humanities majors are finding their place in the world.

I’m a frequent reader of your blog since I discovered it as a panicking philosophy junior. I bought your e-book, signed up for your 14-day career course, religiously followed everything you’ve said and ended up at one of the largest ad agencies in the world in their NYC office. I’m now doing social analytics for their 2 biggest accounts, two Fortune 1000 brands. I can honestly say that your blog has been the biggest source of inspiration for me during the past 2 years. Thank you so much for having kept writing.

 

New on your career journey? Start with these resources.

Ask these 5 questions to help you pick a career direction

This is a guest post by Michael Davis, a career counsellor at ResumeSamples.net. I particularly like the first tip. It’s often overlooked and a huge factor in your career path. 

how to pick a career

Deciding on a career path is a major life decision. It will affect what you choose to study in college, it will determine your educational goals, and it will likely affect your lifetime income potential. It can also have an impact on your overall life satisfaction.

The most common advice is to do something you love, but there are a few questions you can ask that will help you decide whether that thing you love is better as a career or a hobby. Asking the following questions about a potential job will get you on the path to making a smart decision about which career to pick.

1. Are there opportunities for growth?

This relates to both the company—such as career paths and the ability to move up—and the industry. The person who starts their career in a dying or slowing industry such as newspapers will have much less opportunity than someone who starts their career in a high growth or stable industry.

Some jobs offer lots of opportunities for growth. Certain ones will even pay for the training involved in climbing the corporate ladder. Others don’t offer any room for growth. Knowing whether you can expect promotions during the course of your career can sometimes be a deciding factor when looking at various career options. Jobs that offer no opportunities for increased pay or job promotions can make awesome careers. They can also be frustrating since they don’t come with built-in raises or progressing levels of responsibility.

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So how do you create a resume with no experience?

This is a guest post by Aditya Babbar, the founder of Resumonk. His company makes it easy to build really good-looking online resumes. 

create a resume no experience

For those who have just graduated college, there are few things more stressful than trying to find gainful employment when you have little to put on your resume.

As you browse potential job listings, you find yourself competing with more seasoned professionals who have several years of applicable experience.

How are you supposed to compete when the vast majority of your past few years has been spent analyzing Chaucer?

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Can Social Media Really Get You a Job?

 

Yes, of course it can. Last summer, I got a job offer on LinkedIn which led to my new current job. In the past six months, two other employers have contacted me (one for a permanent job; the other for freelance work).

Twitter is excellent for demonstrating skills and knowledge. LinkedIn is amazing for finding job postings. Many employers use social media religiously to evaluate candidates before and after the interview process. 

Sold? Here are a few solid steps you need to take. These tips come from Samantha Stauf. You can follow her on Twitter here

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How to Charge Clients $200 Per Hour (With a Friggin English Degree)

Stop going for the easy buck and start

 

“The client is really happy with you,” said my friend. “But they say you don’t charge enough. You need to charge more, James.”

This was a first.

I was doing a bit of freelance work (I’m a marketer) and things had been going well. The client was getting results and everyone was happy.

I was also happy with my rate, which worked out to be about $60 per hour. I felt this was a fair trade for my Saturday time.

I also had a full-time job. And so, I didn’t want to work longer hours.

The next time I met with the client, they doubled my retainer. And the next freelance gig I take, I’m charging $200 per hour, which is not far from what I make now.

I also learned a valuable lesson, one that few humanities majors really know, which I’ll share in a second.

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The Best Online Resume Tool I’ve Found

I had 15 minutes to create my resume

Last summer, I was busy enjoying my life and sitting in my office. I checked my LinkedIn and saw an email that led me to where I am right now.

The email was from a recruiter and he wanted me to apply for a position at his company. The company is a cool, global brand. They have one of those Google-like offices and tons of perks.

It was a great new opportunity for me. A dream job, really.

The problem was this. I hadn’t been searching for a job. I loved my company and the work was great. So, this meant that I had to put a resume together right away.

God, I hate Microsoft Word. It’s such a piece of crap. I hate formatting resumes with Word. And from being on the other side of the hiring table, I knew that your resume really needs to be visual and sharp.

That day, I did some searching and found Resumonk.

I love this resume tool.

You can build a resume really fast and I used it that day.

  • It makes your resume look visual and the templates stand out
  • It takes 15 minutes instead of 2 hours in Word
  • Your resume looks WAY better than other candidates

So how did the story end?

I created my resume in about 15 minutes. I got the job. I moved to a different city. And I never spent a minute in Microsoft Word.

Go here to try Resumonk

Extra resources for creating a resume

I also wrote this post on how to write cover letters that actually book interviews.

My eBook offers complete guidance on creating resumes and selling degree to employers.

This resource page has 20+ career and resume resources.

Here are 5 more jobs for English majors you likely didn’t know existed.

Why Your Stupid Goals Never Get You What You REALLY Want

And here comes a young man filled with stupid promise . . .

career blog awesome

Many years ago, I was young. I walked into a financial planning office without an appointment. I wanted to invest 20% of my income. That was my goal. At 16, living at home with a part-time job, it was feasible.

“You keep this up,” said the woman at the desk. “And you are going to become a very rich man.”

The woman was so happy for me. She watched me walk out the door into the bright street. I could feel her hope.

I did become rich. I had 3K in investments by 18, which I spent in one drunken college summer, with the vague plans of returning to my goal of 20% after I started making 100K with my university degree.

That was a dumb goal.

Since then, I’ve become better at setting goals and actually reaching them.

The key to getting what you want is really accepting tradeoffs.

You see, last year I was trying to write a novel and write music and practice singing and write new songs and also write non-fiction.

I had zero outcomes.

A bunch of half finished ideas. A shitty singing voice. A Google Drive full of new non-fiction book ideas.

Bleh.

I wasn’t being creatively satisfied as my writing was crap. I also had all these good songs unrecorded that are very important to me, things I want to say, and they were just sitting there unrealized. That makes you unhappy.

So, I finally took a step in my goal planning and have tweaked my process for this year.

Now, I have 4 categories. And I can only pick one yearly outcome for each.

In this post, I’m going to share my personal system and some advice that I’ve picked up from reading a lot on the subject.

Because in 365 days from now, I’m going to achieve everything I list in this post.

I’ve done it before.

And I’m going to do it again, goddamn it.

The question is—you gonna come with me?

The three things you need to remember

  • You’ll achieve more, if you stop trying to do everything.
  • You have to make tradeoffs.
  • Focus on tangible outcomes, not desire.

All will become clear. Let’s set some goals!

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How to get the benefits you deserve in your job offer

Samantha Stauf contacted me on Twitter and wanted to share her experience finding a job with her English degree and making sure that you get the employee benefits you deserve. Here is her advice. 

When I graduated a couple years ago, I got a job at a pawn shop. I’m sure I could’ve done better if I actually tried to market myself, but I couldn’t be convinced that my English degree could garner anything better.

During my interview, my interviewer’s eyes lit up as she read my CV. “You’ve got an English degree! That means you can use words well, right?” A part of me died as I nodded and forced a smile. “You bet!” I said. So I spent the next 6 months telling people their priceless family heirlooms were actually phony costume jewelry and not worth anything and I watched the light in their eyes fade. But the employee benefits were outta sight! … Literally. I did not see any.

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