Who Is Helping You Build Your Career?

Yesterday I talked about your career foundation, and compared it to my chicken coop. I think it’s a pretty good comparison… check it out here: What Is Your Career Foundation?

There’s another part to this chicken coop experience that I want to bring in.

I’m a fairly smart guy. Between Youtube, some blogs, and even shed plans that I bought online, I figured I could figure out how to build this chicken coop. How hard could it be, really?

To make a long story short, it was pretty hard. There was lots of heavy lifting and uncomfortable positions. You might remember that just a few months earlier I had broken my ankle and was kind of recovering from ankle surgery. My balance wasn’t very good, and my strength had deteriorated quite a bit from laying in bed for a long, long time.

Aside from physical help I needed know-how help, and the right tools. I tapped into my friend network and got some tools from one guy, and other tools from someone else. I didn’t have one know-how expert helping me, rather I had a small handful that would help me figure things out when I got to them. For example, my next door neighbor was super helpful in getting the foundation in and making sure it was square (who knew that would be important? Or harder than you would think?).

Another neighbor helped put the floor in and get the walls up. No big deal, right? Actually, there was a lot of heavy lifting. More importantly, this guy was a building genius and knew how to tackle every challenge we came up against. When it came time for the roof I had a couple of friends help get it up and shingled.

Don’t get me wrong, I did a bunch of work myself, but having those people help was critical to building something that will last.

As I thought about this I wondered who are the right experts to help you in your career.  The obvious people, hopefully, are professors and counselors at school. I didn’t get much guidance or help from those people, with the exception of Dr. Beard, who was awesome in that way. But you might not have gone to school, or you might be decades away from school, and you need mentors, helpers, and experts right now.

Here is my list of people who can be really helpful in your job search and career management:

Parents of other loved ones: I hope you have this in your life. My parents and in-laws have been a great support to me in my career, helping me with advice (solicited and unsolicited). My brother gave me great advice (which I didn’t take, but I repeat it to others regularly). A lot of times parents have been there, done that, even if they have never told us about it. What we are looking for is wisdom, and hopefully they have earned that.

People who have, or have had, the job titles we want: Why not go to someone who has what you want and ask them how they got it? Perhaps not with those words, but you could start a conversation and learn from them… learn what path they took, what education or certifications they needed, what companies and roles were important and which to stay away from, etc. Ask enough people and you’ll likely learn there are various ways to get to the end goal, all of them valid. But some might be easier than others. Most of these people should be able to give you good advice for where you are at now.

People who are “in the trenches” of a job search:  This might include career coaches or people who volunteer at job clubs. They have worked with multiple job seekers, sometimes over many years, and have seen a lot. They’ve seen things that work and things that should, but don’t. These people should be in touch with current job search tactics and strategies, and help you avoid pitfalls.  Note that sometimes their advice will be different than what you might hear from people who have not been in a job search for a long time.

Who else? I’m sure there are other types of people who you should get mentoring from.

Ultimately, my chicken coop was mine. I had to go to bed at night feeling comfortable with what we did, which means that sometimes someone suggested something and I overrode it, to have a different design. Your career is yours… no matter who you listen to and learn from, you are the one who is ultimately responsible for making the right decisions and doing the work.

But going it alone is not something I would recommend.