Practical Tips for Launching Your Career (2016 Edition)


Image: Flickr/Flazingo Photos

(The original post can be found on LinkedIn here.)

For those who are graduating or have recently graduated and is now looking to begin a career, I’m sure many of you find the challenges of tapping into the job market.

Or maybe you are already working, but have not yet started a career.

Take it from me. Just over a year ago, I graduated with a philosophy degree. People used to worry about what I’d be able to do with that.  The problem, I found, was the concern itself: what are you going to do with your degree?

Your degree doesn’t matter

When it comes to your career, your degree is no longer relevant (unless you have specialized in a trade such as nursing or engineering).  I know you’ve worked so hard to earn your degree, but when it comes to starting a career, you have to let it go.  Stop thinking in terms of your degree and start focusing on what does matter.

So what does matter?

Employers are looking to hire people who bring specific skills and experiences to their company; on your resume, these are hard skills such as coding and using Microsoft software.  Soft skills, such as teamwork and critical thinking, don’t belong under your “list of skills” (though they are also very important can be shown through your accomplishments and interview responses).

You don’t need to do too much extra schooling to acquire hard skills.  With online resources, it is easy to start building certain skills without having to spend a ton of money. You can also look for internship opportunities to acquire specific skills and experiences.

 Show, don’t tell

You need to give concrete examples on how your skills can benefit employers and help generate revenue for their business.

A great way to showcase your skills and experiences is to create some kind of portfolio that highlights some of the projects where these skills apply. If you can’t find any work experience, create it—make your own project.

Your career begins when you can start defining it

I’ve saved the best for last. This is the first and most important step to take when it comes to starting a career.

When you are beginning your career, you need to have a target and specialize in something. When you’re trying to be “everything”, you’re doing yourself a disservice.  Knowing what your career is will give you a better sense of direction and focus. You can always build additional skills later once you have mastered at least one.

Your career can start today. If you want a career in writing, start calling yourself a writer. If you want to be a data analyst, then call yourself that. If you need some inspiration, have a look at the job boards to see what careers are out there.  Don’t start applying until you have it figured out and already built your profile.

Once you know what your career is, then you can start highlighting experiences that match your role and eliminate those that do not. The trick to creating a strong resume is to better package your skills and experiences to match a certain role.

Need more career advice?

Many of the above points are mentioned in How to Find a Career with Your Humanities Degree in 126 Days.  This ebook (which can be found at has helped me launch my career and has given me some of the the most practical career advices that I’ve ever received. I definitely recommend purchasing a copy for those who have recently graduated and are “lost”.


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