I’ve probably conducted over 100 interviews in my career so far. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the very ugly. But I’ve also been on the other side of the fence, applying for new roles and promotions. And let me tell you, I’ve been pretty ugly at interviews too. Especially earlier on when I was just starting out.
The worst interview I ever had, was for an assistant analyst role. It was a group assessment day where they put us through team exercises. I did pretty well in that part. It was the interview that followed where I fluffed up. In short, I was too focused on myself. When it came to the question about what I wanted out of this role, I said higher pay, a company phone, and a company car. Bear in mind this was a junior role, and an opportunity to get my foot in the door of a large international retail company. I must’ve come across like some disillusioned, arrogant and clearly out-of-his-depth graduate.
I blame my lapse in humility on an incident that happened earlier that day. We were being led down the corridors of the offices when I saw my name etched into a gold plaque on a door. Above it said “Director”. Another candidate saw and said, “That must be a sign Andy”. Well, it literally was a sign. But evidently I took it as a sign to inflate the size of my head too. Suffice to say, I didn’t get the job.
Finding and getting the right job and having a solid career is one of the biggest priorities someone typically goes through in life. Along with keeping healthy, and finding a long-lasting relationship. There are of course many other routes in life to take, that place less significance in the job world, and you could also choose to stay single. But for the most part, having a job is important. There are over 25 million people, out of a population of 66 million, working in the UK.
And yet so many people don’t know how to navigate their career in a way that brings fulfilment and joy. This was me, as per the story I shared earlier. I knew I had the skills to do the job well. It’s just that my priorities were all wrong. I was thinking about what the new job could do for me, instead of focusing on what I could for the company. I was self-centred and looking out for my own materialistic needs, and I saw that job as a way of helping me get what I want.
This attitude will always lead to unfulfillment, no matter what job I end up with. Now, with many more years of experience under my belt, and having even provided professional career coaching, I have a vastly improved approach for those looking to succeed in the world of work. The foundation for having a successful career can be boiled down to two things – one you mustn’t do, and one you must:
- Don’t chase the money or the title – I’ve heard people say “I want to earn as much as possible” or “I want to be a managing director”. These are not wrong motives, but they can’t be the primary one. We need money to survive. Money gives us options. Creating wealth isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it opens up doors to many opportunities. Striving for a
respected title is also a door-opener. However, both of these should be the result of achieving bigger goals rather than making it the goal itself. This leads to the second mindset shift…
- Focus on contribution – The more value you add, the more you’re going to be recognised and compensated accordingly. An employer doesn’t hire you so that you can fulfil your needs. They hire you so that you can help serve their mission, whatever that is.
When you join a company because you’re committed to furthering their mission and vision, you’ll demonstrate your commitment to serve. And in return, you’ll increase your chances of hitting your own personal career goals along the way.