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TED Talk Review – The Career Advice You Probably Didn’t Get

A former colleague of mine sent me this talk this week. Here is Susan Colantuono speaking at a TED Conference in Boston in 2013. I suggest taking a few minutes to watch it, as the concepts can benefit anyone who ever plans on having a job, keeping a job, or moving up in a company.  I found it extremely interesting and relevant to the work we are doing here at The CP Journal because we spend a lot of time working with and talking to military personnel and veterans, many of whom are entering, or have entered, the corporate world after service.  While this talk focuses primarily on women and their career progressions, here are my three biggest takeaways for anyone looking to land a new job or develop the skills needed to earn promotion.

Financial Acumen – In my experience interviewing military veterans, I have found that vets rarely like to go down the path of demonstrating the value that they will provide to an organization.  In their prior roles these are some of most confident and relied upon people in the world and yet they have significant amounts of doubt about their worth to an organization.  One of the first ways that a candidate can begin to think about the concept of financial acumen is to put value of the role in perspective.  If the interview is for a job that is paying $50,000 per year, then companies are going to want to hire someone that will deliver $50,000 or more worth of value per year, or just about $1,000 per week.  So the first step in working to better understand financial acumen to help position yourself for the job you want is to have an understanding of the cost associated with hiring you and then being able to articulate why your experience and skill set will offer more value than what you cost.

Proven Business Understanding – As an extension of understanding your worth to an organization, companies are also going to want to know that you understand what it means to be part of their business.  Fortunately you can use the Internet to start looking for information about the company you are meeting with and spend time researching the company you are interested in.  You will need to understand how the company makes money (revenue,) how the company spends money (expenses,) who the target customers are (customers,) how customers decide to purchase whatever the company is selling (marketing,) and what reasons they are trying to fill the position you are interested in (need.)  After you understand all of these things you will be able to tailor your experiences and skills to the company, customers, and position in the company that you are trying to become a part of, thus showing the employer that you understand the role, the company, and the business that you are soon to be joining.

Strategic Thinking – Strategic thinking is being able to see the forest through the trees, and the first step to strategic thinking is learning about the macro environment that exists around the company.  What industry does this company operate in?  What is going on in that industry?  Is that industry doing well?  Why or why not?  What are future prospects of the industry? The best ways to learn these answers is through searching the Internet and speaking to people that know the industry well.  They can tell you more about the direction of the industry, and you can then take the knowledge you’ve already gained about the organization and start to formulate the reasons why your experience and skills are perfectly aligned to help this company move forward.

The three biggest takeaways from Susan’s talk are the importance of having financial acumen, proven business understanding, and strategic thinking to continue to elevate your career. I highly recommend that you take fifteen minutes to watch the complete video. In its entirety, the talk gives more detail on ideas to help you get the ball rolling on developing more substance to complement your own skill set to help you get hired or to continue along your career path.

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