In his presentation, Reid focused on three key recommendations he had for graduates in terms of their careers.
What is clear however, is that much of the advice is pretty universal, and relevant to most young professionals seeking to navigate increasingly choppy career waters.
Setting the scene, he described a wider context afflicting all recent graduates including:
- Challenging Labour Markets
- Increased Uncertainty
- Intense Competition for Roles
- Lack of Stable Career Paths
Given these, it is not surprising that many young people are anxious about their career opportunities, which Reid very much positions this as the new norm.
So what were his three key recommendations in terms of career advice?
Develop your Competitive Advantage
He commences with a number of variations of the key question ‘What should I do with my life?’
However, he then goes on to advise that this is actually the wrong question, recommending an approach instead that is focused on candidates seeking a competitive advantage taking account of:
- Your Assets – What are the key things you have going for you?
- Your Aspirations – What are your ambitions ?
- Market Realities – What is the market prepared to pay?
Ever the entrepreneur, he then recommends graduates approach their careers by identifying people’s needs before fulfilling these by solving their problems. As roles are ultimately based on solving people’s needs, by having greater clarity re what people need you can then add value by solving these. Similarly this approach helps ensure graduates are aligning themselves with roles where skills are in demand.
Build your Network
While this recommendation could be dismissed as one grounded in self-interest (given this is what LinkedIn helps you do), it is in fact sound advice. Building a professional network is increasingly important, particularly in a world where trust, and reputation are extremely valuable currencies as an ever increasing number of engagements take place online.
This advice is not a licence to connect with anyone who has ever spoken to you, but rather to recognise that from a hiring perspective a ‘better the devil you know’ attitude often prevails. Having someone in the hiring process who knows you and will vouch for you is a big advantage, and building meaningful relationships helps create a network increasing the odds of you having a personal connection in the company looking to hire. Of course this is really only practical if you have a tightly defined target of companies you would like to work for.
Take Intelligent Risks
In this section he encourages graduates to take calculated risks, remarking that in college the students who make the fewest mistakes are the most successful ones, whereas the most successful professionals are those who have learned to take intelligent risks. He goes on to argue that those taking intelligent risks gain a competitive edge:
“The best opportunities are frequently the ones with the most question marks.”
This is very much ‘the road less traveled’ territory.
In summary, Hoffman is reminding candidates that people ultimately hire people to help them solve resource issues they have so building relationships and helping people solve their problems is a sure fire way to be in demand.
In an extremely competitive environment, playing to your strengths, building relationships (with professionals in your target industries) and embracing risk will serve you well. Advice that is equally applicable to entrepreneurs looking to start a new business.