I’ve had a heck of a lot of jobs in my time – over 65 to date, in fact – and have been in pretty much every industry under the sun. I’ve been a project manager, a waiter, a teacher, a conference developer, and… Well, let’s just say I’ve done a lot of things.
I’m a more complete person, coach, and entrepreneur because of my different experiences, and I feel like any job taken away from my past would carve off a piece of who I am.
So what have I learned?
Today we’ll look at my experience as an investment advisor. What I learned here has really helped me in introducing myself to new industries, and getting buy-in from skeptical people.
1. Selling is offering what people want
It’s not about telling them what they “should” want. It’s about finding out what they need, and offering a solution.
This same approach is necessary when taking on a new career. It’s not enough to go on and on about all the wonderful things you can do. You have to figure out the needs of employers in your target areas, and sell your talents appropriately.
2. You can’t sell people when they’re not ready
Along those lines, sometimes you have to take your time. Even if it’s a great idea for them, people won’t buy your product just because it makes sense.
They have to trust you first.
So take your time, and break down getting hired into multiple steps. No one will hire you the moment you open your mouth – you have to build that trust gradually.
3. Success comes in lumps
Working exclusively for commission can mean working for free for long periods of time. It can be extremely frustrating to see your efforts going nowhere, nowhere, nowhere… and then BOOM! A big fat pay check makes it all worth it.
Those networking efforts you’re making will pay off. Keep reaching out to prospective employers. I know you sent five job applications last week, but apply to that new one that caught your eye.
Keep at it. What’s the worst that could happen? Too many job offers??
4. Know what success looks like
When those successful “lumps” come in, it’s easy to blow the whole commission cheese on rewards for yourself. You worked for it, didn’t you? You deserve to enjoy it!
Unfortunately, that would ignore the lumpiness of the success – because unless you know exactly when that nice commission check is coming (and you most likely won’t), you need to get ready for the next one. The commission check isn’t the goal: it’s achieving a steady stream of checks.
Similarly, you might get called in to do a few interviews and feel like you’ve “arrived.” Why bother applying for that job posting I saw today – I’ve got two interviews tomorrow!
But interviews are not the goal: a new job is the goal.
Don’t take your foot off the gas until you’ve achieved what’s really important.
5. The term “expert” is a joke
The biggest earner in my small little branch earned $500-600 thousand per year (in 2005 dollars). He also had only a high school education and was a butcher until he decided to make a career change.
So what made him qualified to give investment advice, and guide people for 20-30 years toward a prosperous retirement?
Absolutely nothing. Except that he said he was qualified, and his results backed him up.
The longer you keep saying that you’re not “qualified” enough to make a change – that you’re not enough of an “expert” to merit that job or extra money – the more people you will see pass you by, grabbing what you felt you couldn’t.
Decide what you want to do, then just go and do it.
6. Your career is whatever you want it to be
Which leads us to the last item. You can go big or go home – or anywhere in-between. Eventually, that high performing former butcher did zero promotional activities, worked pretty much standard office hours, and took weeks off at a time. All of his business was generated by referrals.
In other words, he could have made even more money, but he didn’t feel it was worth it – why disrupt the work-life balance he had going?
Some people start off in Career Motion to feel more challenged, others want to make more money than they’re currently making. Some people want to become “Number 1,” while other people want just enough at work, and lots more at home.
Build whatever career you want. Just know what success looks like, and don’t stop until you get it.
What are some lessons you’ve learned in a specific job? Tell us in the comments!