Want to get ahead in your career? Four principles you’ll find in 90% of personal development books.


Last month, there was a very inspiring career thread on Quora. The topic was “I am in my late 20s and feel I have wasted a lot of time. Is it too late?”

Image: 'runners (cc)' http://www.flickr.com/photos/45409431@N00/10014117363

Image: ‘runners (cc)’

James Altucher, a popular blogger and all-around fascinating guy, gave some good advice as usual. After going through a long-list of famous people who reached success later in life, he ended with the advice that it really doesn’t matter. You don’t need success to be happy.

You might never have your “great” thing that you do. I’m not even saying “it’s the journey that one should love”. Because some journeys are very painful. And nobody says you get special marks in death if you wrote a great novel at the age of 50. Or came up with a great chicken, or a way to stuff lots of people into factories.I’ve stumbled and fallen and got up and survived enough that I’m sick of goals and purposes and journeys. I want to cut out the middleman. The journey. The desperation and despair that thinking of a “purpose” entails. Fuck purpose. It’s ok to be happy without one. You don’t need to pay with lots of unhappiness to buy happiness.

I think that is true. That said, I’m not ready to abandon my life goals yet.

When I first left grad school, I thought personal development was bullshit and snake oil. After reading a few of the better authors, though, I realized that most personal development offers very sensible advice. They don’t hide the work that goes into achieving great things.

Yet personal development is like personal finance or personal fitness tips. There are only so many things you can say. The basics are the basics.  People desire to be told a secret but the reality is that most success in life comes from action and a disciplined approach to improvement rather than searching the internet for another top 25 tips for ‘starting your novel’ post.

I’ve read dozens of these books now and hundreds of personal development blog posts.

Here are the four principles that I’ve found are common to most personal development. Follow them and you’ll see results in your career search.


For sale: Master’s degree in English. Never used.

My Dear Friend,

I’m writing this to let you know that I’m selling my Master’s Degree in English Literature. It has never been used and remains in exceptional, out-of-the-box condition.

So what will this piece of paper do for you?

I say this with absolute sincerity, purchase my MA from me and your life will change in unimaginable ways.

Here’s how.

Imagine you — a literary scholar!

One day, you are scrubbing toilets and earning minimum wage. Life is a meaningless hellscape. Then BOOM.

Suddenly, you are attending fancy intellectual parties, drinking wine under the plump stars with your new professor friends, and strolling down a campus pathway, your pockets lined with a lucrative teaching gig at a two-year college.

If this sounds like a fairy tale, then read on.


The Four Categories of Skills – Which Career Direction Will You Take?


Last month, I launched a 14-day course about skill developing and choosing the right career path. Below is a sample of a lesson. If you find value in it, you can join my email list (below and at the bottom of the page) and you’ll be notified when the free course is available again.


How to Pick a Career You Love: 5 Quick Techniques


I recently ran a free email course about picking careers and skill development. I’m about to collect feedback from the first participants and then will make the course available for free on my website. If you want to get the course when it is ready, just sign-up for my email list (on the left).

pick a career

Here’s a few techniques I shared in the course as well as a few other helpful sites for job searchers.

This is just a quick post. I will post more on the topic when I have time.


How to Stand Out in a Group Interview


“The problem with first impressions,” Oscar Wilde said, “is that they are almost always right.”

Like it or not, job interviews are about perception.This guest post below is by Victoria from www.randstad.com.au, an Australian job search and recruitment firm, and offers some techniques for improving your interview skills. I posted this because the advice really resonated with an experience I had last summer.

Last June, I sat on the other side of the hiring table. As I helped select a winning candidate from about 10 people, I realized how small perceptual details mattered in my decision. You try to be objective, but the small details do influence you.

Your resume gets you an interview, but the job interview is about social and personal chemistry.


job interview  2


I can remember one job candidate that barely looked us in the eye. It was uncomfortable interviewing her.

But it wasn’t just the introverts that didn’t make a good first impression. Another extroverted candidate at first presented himself very well. He was confident and barely nervous. But as the interview progressed, he didn’t practice “balancing” (a technique discussed in the article below).

This led the hiring committee to believe he was arrogant and difficult to work with, a perception that his references later confirmed.

If you have an job interview, I can say from personal experience that the techniques below do matter. While perception matters, it can also be adjusted and corrected.

For example, an old professor of mine once said to me, “You have an annoying habit of disappearing deep into thought when you present to the class . . . I know you are trying to be a casual presenter and think of things on the fly, but like it or not public speaking is a performance.” That insight stuck with me and I’ve tried to correct that habit.

Your interview is also a performance and the best way to improve is with live practice.

Here’s the post . . .


“I’m Glad I Quit My PhD”– 4 Permissions I’ve Learned to Give Myself


Jessica recently wrote to me and shared her story of quitting her PhD and finding career happiness outside of academia. This is a guest post by her. I found her story very interesting and realized that I need to allow myself her 4th permission at least a few times per week. 

It’s hard to say exactly when I stopped wanting the PhD. I’d been ambivalent about grad school throughout my master’s program, feeling depleted by academia’s insistence on fueling its members by a relentless sense of inadequacy. I thought that might go away in a PhD program. It didn’t.

By the end of 2012, I was on-track to becoming a scholar of Russian History. I passed my Qualifying Exam last fall and defended my dissertation proposal to my committee shortly after. I had a fellowship lined up for next fall, which would allow me to spend the next year in Russia completing archival research.

And I didn’t want any of it.

Still, I waited for someone to tell me it was ok that I didn’t want to become a professor anymore. My advisor was incredibly supportive, selflessly encouraging me to leave if I wanted. But it was harder than I expected to just walk away from the career I had already invested five years in.

It took me far too long to understand that ultimately I was the only person who could give myself the following four permissions I needed to change my life:


Use these advanced tips to find hidden job postings online



This article has 5+ helpful tools and techniques to help you quickly find job postings online.  

I’ll show how to find hidden posts by companies, scan social media sites for new openings, and how to expand your job search beyond Craigslist or industry job boards. 

I once read that half of job postings are never officially advertised. I’ve also met a lot of people who work at big companies and governmental agencies. Usually, they tend to hire from within their own ranks.

But they are required to advertise the job posting, meaning that for a lot of the advertised positions out there, the employer already has an internal candidate in mind for the role.

I’ve collected a few less known places that you can find postings for jobs. All of the companies I’ve worked at have used these methods to find new employees.

You’ll learn:

  • A tool to help you quickly scan Facebook, Twitter, and company blogs for new job openings.
  • How to find hidden job opportunities using easy Google operators.
  • Advanced tips for spotting new jobs on Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you have your own special trick for finding job postings, I’d love to hear it in the comments.  Special prize for the first comment.  (more…)

How to stop wasting time and focus on building a profitable skill


Over the last few months, I’ve been unhappy with my skill development. I have lots of interests and passions. And while I work around 50 hours a week and have a satisfying career, I always have that nagging feeling of things I’m not accomplishing.

For example, there is a course I really want to take. This course is advanced and I know will help my career. But it requires me to invest a few nights per week, so I put it off. Yet, every month I delay I still think about that course, wonder what I would have learned, and feel like I need to sign-up.

Here is what I believe essential to happiness at work and the things I think I can do to feel more satisfied and fulfilled. (more…)

Another Selloutyoursoul Reader Gets a Job! — This is Why I Write This Blog


These are the emails that keep me writing this blog. Here’s another academic researcher showing the world that we can adapt and thrive in the private world. Good work Matt making it through my 18-week challenge and getting out the other side.

I write to thank and congratulate you for writing a book which has helped me to secure full time employment in a job I think I’m really going to enjoy.

The story you tell on selloutyoursoul.com sounds very familiar to me – having stayed in grad school for around six years (one year to do a Masters, and then almost five for a PhD in the Social Sciences). Although I graduated my PhD last December, I was really struggling to find any meaningful work, and it was looking more and more like I was going to have to take yet another menial job just to make ends meet (except this time with a fancy new title in front of my name)!

Last week I received the news that I have been offered a position as a full-time online copywriter at a successful local company. I never even realised that you could get paid to write that kind of stuff before I read your book How to Find a Career With Your Humanities Degree in 126 Days! As you suggest, the interview panel really weren’t all that interested in my PhD – but they were very interested in the skills that I developed whilst I wrote it.

I just wanted to say thanks – I might never have managed this if I hadn’t read your book. Finding your site was like a revelation to me, and I’ll certainly recommend it to anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation to the one I was in.

 All the best



5 Jobs for English Degrees You Never Knew Existed


It was May. University was out forever and I was looking for an apartment. A mole-like woman in her fifties showed me the room. “And what was your major,” she asked. “I have an English degree,” I said.

“Oh!, so I guess that means you will HAVE to teach!” She said.

She was so happy when she said it. She was so happy to determine my fate. You studied English. Now, you HAVE to teach at high school.

english degree jobs

Wizard school is over. Time to find a job in the real world, Harry.

As she told me later, she also took an English degree and taught at high school. Teaching at high school is an honourable profession. But just because you take an English degree doesn’t mean your only option is teaching.

I managed to escape that woman’s narrow thinking. You can too.

Here are 5 lucrative and growing jobs for people with English degrees that you probably haven’t heard of before.