2 Key Pieces of Career Advice That Might Surprise You

man speaking in office
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One tool for expanding your network by utilizing technology is to connect with industry professionals via Skype.  While meeting in person is always preferable, Skype trumps a phone call because the visual element adds to the experience.  So if conducting informational interviews is a tactic you are considering (or already engage in), make the move to Skype or another video conferencing system for your meetings that cannot be arranged in person.

I have used Skype and Google Hangouts for guest speakers in class with great success. Recently, our campus' sports business club President arranged to have Stanford's Assistant Director of Football Operations Callie Seidman talk to the the club's members via Skype.  And during her visit, two seemingly contradictory pieces of career advice were shared:

  • " In the job search and interview process, be yourself".
  • "In your career you need to be adaptable".

Long time San Francisco sports radio personality Ralph Barbieri was fond of saying "two things can be equally true" and that seems to be the case with Ms. Seidman's advice.  Let's take a look at these statements and why they are so important in your career and career search.

  • Be Yourself.  During the job search process your head can be swirling as you think about how you want to explain your experiences to the prospective employers.  What anecdotes should I use?  How can I "stretch" my explanations to appear to be a good fit for the position?  What information should I be sure to omit during the conversation to make the best impression?  These are just a few of the things you may be thinking.  But at no point should you be so motivated as to tell the interviewer a fib or embellish a story to make yourself seem like a better fit for the position.  And there are (at least) two reasons why you should avoid that scenario: 1) If you are caught in a lie, your chances of securing the position drop to zero, and 2) You may be trying to "trick" yourself into thinking you are a fit for the job, when in reality you are not.  And admitting to yourself that a position is not the right fit for you can help you make sure you do not take a position that is not right for you - now matter how seemingly attractive it is.  So remember, just be yourself.
  • Be Adaptable.  This advice holds for the interview and once a position is secured.  In the interview process you want to demonstrate that you are willing to take on new challenges, be trained and adapt to changing roles in the business.  So in your interview preparation, think of examples of when you had to be adaptable.  The rise in the use of behavioral interview questions makes being prepared with these stories imperative.  And once you are working somewhere, remember that being adaptable will make you a better employee. Never say the dreaded words "that's not my job".  Always think like a team player and be open to new experiences.  While you may not think people notice your adaptability, they certainly do.

    What is the best piece of interview or career advice you have ever received?

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