Career Advice at 25 – I Don’t Know What I Want to Be When I Grow Up!

People often say that a rewarding career is more about personal fulfillment than it is about bringing in big bucks. Many of us agree with this statement. The truth is, most people would rather be happy than rich. Meaningful work is one of the keys to personal fulfillment, especially since we spend approximately 33% of our adult life working. Research shows that if you have a career that complements your personal values, you’re much more likely to be happy than if you’re working a meaningless job.

So, what advice do you give to a 25 year old who is unhappy working at his high paying corporate job?

The best thing, of course, is to find a job you love and pays well, which is not an easy thing to do. Part of the problem is that a lot of people don’t know what they want to be when they grow up. If you are asking yourself whether you should quit your corporate job, you probably already made the decision in your heart, but not yet in your mind. Every day, you hate getting up and going into the office. But you are afraid that if you try switching careers now, you won’t be making that much money anymore. Take a look at the few steps below which could ease your transition to a new fulfilling career.

Find out what you really want. This first step is difficult but crucial. Figure out what it is that you really want to do. What would make you happy? It can take a lot of soul-searching to find out what exactly a meaningful job is for you.

Find something that drives you right now. At 25, you have the whole world in your hands. If you are not married and you don’t have any dependants, you are only responsible for yourself. This is the perfect time to figure out what kind of work satisfies your needs. At the end of the day you need to feel good about your work no matter how much or little you were paid for it.

Reduce your lifestyle. Find out what your needs are. Evaluate your lifestyle. A simpler lifestyle means more flexibility in your career search. By lowering your expenses, you will have more options. What type of person are you? How much do you value life experiences such as travel, volunteer work, and acquisition of knowledge as compared to the acquisition of wealth?

Take baby steps. At your age, a career change doesn’t have to mean all or nothing. You don’t have to choose between a well-paid job you don’t like and the complete unknown. You have many other options, for example, learn a new skill that interests you, or start a blog about your interests and experiences, start a small business on the side, take evening online classes which can help you further your career and help you get a promotion. As it is in life, some small steps lead to bigger and better things, others don’t. But as long as you just sit here feeling sorry for yourself, rest assured, nothing will change at all. Change is scary for a lot of people, but change can also bring tremendous rewards.

You are young. Having a mediocre job at 25 is very common. A lot of people act as if their jobs are a lot more fabulous than they really are. It’s one way to show off. Don’t get sucked in by it because, for most of them, it’s not true. Dig a little deeper and you will see that things aren’t always what they seem. Explore your options. For example, let’s say you are currently working for an advertising agency but you’re not happy with your position. Perhaps working for the advertising agency is still the right fit for you, but you need to switch departments within the company in order to be fulfilled. If you’re learning a great deal at your current job, give it a chance; it just might lead somewhere. Don’t drop out just because things get a little tough.

Help others. Find a way to help other people. Volunteer in a shelter or soup kitchen on a weekend. Seeing people who own next to nothing may put your life into perspective. Besides, helping the less fortunate will bring instant gratification and happiness into your life too.

There are no perfect answers to this question. What’s great is that at 25 you can still make mistakes and get away with it without many consequences. However, as you get older, that flexibility becomes smaller. Your obligations become greater with age, making this decision more difficult. If you want to explore, do it now. Ultimately, the decision is yours no matter what other people tell you.

Corporate Careers Pages Come of Age

As Bob Dylan once said, “The times they are a-changin.” Twenty years ago the internet was just crawling out of the primordial ooze spawned by higher education and military visionaries. Before the digital age, job listings were driven by newspaper ads and walk-ins. As we all know, the computer age has dramatically changed the way companies list their open positions. Where web-based listing pages were once a hypothetical future, today companies have access to a variety of technologies to help post job openings and collect applications. Advances in applicant tracking technology have opened up the available methods and implementations for corporate careers pages.

The advantages of running a careers page on your corporate site are obvious. The internet provides virtually unlimited exposure for your open positions. In the first phase of the evolution of web driven job listings, simple HTML pages provided basic descriptions and contact information in the form of phone numbers or email addresses. These rudimentary pages, offered some impressive improvements over the previous newspaper based system. With the new pages, hiring professionals had full control over their listings and the distribution channel was essentially free of charge. Despite the obvious advantages, there were several drawbacks. With the new method a page update required an understanding of HTML, listings were not uniform and the contact channels were far from optimal. The first career pages required recruiters to organize all of a candidate’s information with email and offline folders. This organizational drawback left significant room for error and added unnecessary time to the recruiting process. Despite these drawbacks, the advent of basic HTML careers pages was a godsend for people in the hiring field.

The internet bubble added fuel to the fire of innovation that was spurning the growth of the web. Major job websites emerged to offer dedicated listings for a variety of positions and companies. Companies seeking to extend the exposure of their job listings and pull in more candidates had a new outlet. These new dedicated job sites offered an extension of the corporate careers site. Recruiters were able to duplicate their listing and reach out to people who otherwise may not be exposed to a company’s open job positions.

Applicant tracking software, also known as recruiting software, followed the development of other hiring technologies. The software offered a solution to help more effectively organized the hiring process and move away from previous email and spreadsheet methods. As the variety of online listing channels became ever more important to the hiring process, recruiting software providers developed methods to integrate their candidate database and tracking systems with corporate careers pages and dedicated job listing sites. Eventually these software packages matured into full management systems for corporate careers pages while offering automatic distribution for the large job listing sites. To improve compatibility and access, many applicant tracking software providers moved to fully web-based packages. These web-based systems offered enhance collaboration between hiring personnel while also fixing the previous drawbacks of the first generation of careers sites. With the new software a web developer was no longer needed for new listings, all open listing formats were made uniform and contact channels fed directly into the software’s backend for easy management throughout the recruiting process.

With the maturation of the web, flexibility has become a desired feature for a variety of online software services. Companies want the ability to setup their careers pages and distribute open positions as they see fit. Initially, many applicant tracking providers offered careers page hosting via sub-domains. While not directly hosted through a company’s corporate site, these careers pages provided seamless styling and navigation to mimic the company website. With the push for more flexibility, select recruiting software providers have begun to leverage RSS and ATOM feeds to offer virtually unlimited distribution and manipulations of a company’s open jobs feed. These new feeds allow custom integration with a corporate website and enable all positions to be listed directly through the hosted corporate pages. Once in place, new job feeds can be fully managed via the software’s backend without the need for a web developer. The new feeds enable a company to list their open positions on as many pages or sites as they see fit.

Hiring remains a very high-touch, people centric field. Technology is far from effectively replacing the interview process and automating candidate selection. Careers pages, however, have come a long way from the early newspaper advertising methods that dominated the hiring industry only a few decades ago. With new management software and flexible distribution channels, recruiters have become more effective and hiring manager are able to refocus their efforts on where they add the most value; interviewing candidates to see if they are the right fit for the available position.