Here are a few things anyone can start today to help them land a job in the near future:
1. Become a reader
I don’t really care what you read but go pick up a book. Start reading. Just don’t be the type of person who says they don’t read. All that comment will achieve is make people think your an idiot. Find a book that interests you. Is there something you want to learn? Is there a problem you want to solve? Go find the book or person that has already solved your problem.
A few years ago, I was watched an interview of Will Smith, the actor from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Independence Day, and many other films, where he said there is a book that answers every one of your problems or questions. That’s 100% true.
A library card can be the best investment of your life.
2. Start writing
When you get out of school, as a non-journalism major, you’ll most likely not write anything longer than a multiple paragraph email. That was my issue. I got my first job before I graduated college. I felt my writing skills deteriorating. I mentioned this to my wife and the next gift I received was a journal. I don’t think I picked it up for a year. Over time, I began writing in it regularly.
After my father died, I finally gave up worrying about posting under my own name and I bought coreykeller.com. Though I didn’t start writing everyday until after I participated in Pittsburgh Startup Weeekend. I don’t know what is was about the event but something clicked after that weekend. Since that weekend in November 2014, I’ve been writing a blog post nearly every day. This blog isn’t about money. It’s also not really about one specific topic. It’s about improving my writing, continuing to come back everyday to publish my work, and working through my thoughts. It’s been another one of the best decisions of my life.
3. Join Toastmasters
Whether you like it or not, people judge you by the words that come out of your mouth. If you don’t want to sound unintelligent than you should work on improving this skill. I find it funny that people know they need to practice almost anything in order to get good at it but they somehow think they are naturally gifted public speakers. Then you hear them speak and it’s jumbled, monotone mess with an ah or so placed in between every sentence.
I’m not saying you have to join Toastmasters. You just need to find someplace to practice your public speaking. It could be a meetup you create, it could be at work, or it could be your family and friends. It just needs to be in front of an audience that will give you honest constructive feedback that’s not filled with comments like, “You’re so great,” and, “I couldn’t think of anything you could possibly improve upon.” Those type of comments seem nice at first but they are not helpful in the long term. You, and I, are not perfect. There is always something to improve.
4. Learn some code
I bet I spend nearly 70% of my time in front of some type of screen. It could be higher. One day I’ll track it. A combination of career opportunity and interest in how stuff works got me interested in learning to code.
A funny thing happened a year into my career. A lot of the finance jobs I was looking at were interested in someone who could write Visual Basic for Applications which was the programming language used to run Microsoft Office Applications, specifically Microsoft Excel macros.
You don’t need to become a developer. I’m never going to become a software engineer at Google but learning to code gives you a type of superpower that you can use in your chosen profession. Plus, you can build some cool things.
5. Get some exercise
A few years ago, I was completely out of shape. Then my father passed away from a heart attack. I had always thought of my self as an athlete but after a few years of working in an office I was badly out of shape. Do yourself, your family, and friends a favor and go join a gym or find a workout group, like one of the many free running groups around any major city. It’s the best way to feel better about yourself, relieve stress, and make new friends. You don’t have to go crazy and you might hate it at first, but given some time you might turn into one of those crazy people, like me, who you see running at ungodly times of day in the rain, snow, or heat.
After you’ve chosen the sport or activity you want to try, you should do one of two things: find a workout group or partner or signup for an event like a marathon. The best option is signup for a race and find a running group to train for that event.
Getting a little exercise each day can be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make for you career and personal life. Plus, you never know who you might meet. It could be a connection to your future job.
6. Find a project
Look at the above five items. Figure out a project you could achieve for each one. I talked about this in, “Get some exercise.” Signup for a race, build a website, write a blog, give some speeches. Projects will motivate you to push forward with the above five tasks.
For me, simply saying I want to exercise, write, speak, code, or read each day isn’t going to help me achieve those things. I need more motivation. That’s were projects come in handy. They create an end game. They drive you to finish that race, build that website, complete that book, write a certain amount of words, or create a speech.
7. Create some goals
Projects and goals are similar. Your goal could be to create a website and it could be a project too. I try to make them different them. For me, projects are something I use to break down my goals. My Learning to Code goal is to earn the Free Code Camp Front End Development certificate. Projects inside that goal are to build certain FCC projects like a Tribute Page, a portfolio, and a Random Quote Generator.
Goals will allow you to wake up every morning and realize exactly what you need to accomplish. If you where going on vacation you would leave your home without any directions? Then why would you do that with your life.
Try doing something every day towards each one of the above items. I bet after a year your life will be dramatically different than when you started.