Career advice: Mistakes that you must never make

suit and tie

I meet a lot of students who are in the final stages of completing their education and waiting to step into the arena to show what they have learned. Many among them are always worried about their career even when they get placed. Whether they will get a decent job or not, what is a decent job or how well they be able to fit in this corporate life.

A simple straight forward answer to all those passing students is, don’t be afraid or worried. If you have come this far, you’d sail through this very well.

Remember, when these hotshots started their career, they were also having the same feeling. So, they understand very well about your current situation and how to train you to fit into the system. What you need to care about is to carry the right attitude.

When I was passing my MBA, I was also going through the same feeling and was worried about securing a job for myself. From the very beginning, I had an interest in marketing and specifically advertising. Coming up with a creative idea, something that general public can relate with always used to excite me.

I knew it from the very beginning that I have to do MBA and specialize in marketing. I did the same. And then came the season of placements. All the mediocre colleges during this time create a hoax about job market situation being very bad. So, that all the students out of fear, quickly sit for any company and finish off the target of the college at the earliest.

This helps a college in various ways:

  1. To maintain corporate relationships with these companies by showing good number of candidates available to take up the offered profile
  2. To showcase great placement numbers by forcing students to pick up job irrespective of their interest, expertise and choice
  3. Also, you are not allowed to sit for further companies if you have been selected previously by some other company. So, as the remaining students can get a better chance of getting placed

I also became a victim of this scheme and had to settle for something that was completely out of my interest area.

I got a job for real estate selling.

I somehow convinced myself by looking at the industry and demand in the market and motivated myself to do my best for this. I got an industry average package of 30,000/- P.M. for this work with a multi million company.

I thought I will try to convince the management by showing them my expertise in marketing. I created a presentation discussing how we can build better sales lead by doing various marketing activities. With my presentation, I was ready for my first day at work. I wore proper formals and with a smile on my face, fully motivated to show up.

We were sitting in the board room waiting for our manager.

With a vibrant personality and smile on his face, he walks in. Introducing himself as the SVP. He gave a nice motivational pitch to buck up the new employees. However, I raised a question and talked about my scheme of things.

But my query got ignored with a simple question of “this is fine, but how are you planning to do the sales?”

In that moment, I realized it is not like this. Sales and marketing might be spoken together, but they are miles apart in the organizational structure.

I gave up on my marketing dream and started thinking about that question seriously. I tried my level best in my job and after two months I realized that I am not made up for this job. I was doing 100 calls a day to figure out the potential lead. Nothing got converted. Our manager started forcing us to sell the plots among family members.

Actually, that was one of their targets of hiring us. They inquired about our family background to figure whether we will be having contacts to sell their plots or not. But I did not want to sell this in my family.

I started looking out for new opportunities. After four months of working there, I secured a job in my dream industry that is advertising.

As soon as I heard this news, I waited for my last month’s salary to be credited. I went home and dropped a message to my boss, “that I am leaving my job from tomorrow and will not be coming.” After that message, my boss called me several times but I did not pick up his call and never saw the face of that office again.

Key learning:

  1. Never give up on your dream
  2. It is OK to have something in hand, so that side by side you can look for a better company/job
  3. Don’t expect sympathy in corporate life. Your performance is everything
  4. Relationships are everything in professional life, never spoil them at any cost
  5. Always leave a company with respect, by duly fulfilling all the formalities

My boss was of kind nature, he asked one of my friend who was still working there to send a resignation letter from my computer. Otherwise, the company could blacklist me as absconded, which is very bad for your career.

Let me tell you the story of how I found my dream job.

I got the call from the managing director of the company. He introduced himself to me and asked me to come for the interview. I felt very proud that I am getting a call directly from the MD of the company. I felt very positive and confident about myself.

I reached their office on Saturday, it was a small office situated in a very posh location. There was only one guy in the corner cubicle who was working on something. 3-4 more guys were sitting with me waiting to be interviewed.

We all were called one by one for a general round of discussion. The MD of the company was taking our interviews. There was group discussion that also took place and two out of the 4 guys got selected.

Then begins the negotiation round.

I was being offered 25000/- PM which was nearly 17% less that what I was already getting in my previous company. But I was already stressed and in tension of being fired from my existing company. Another factor was that I am getting a job in my dream industry. Thus, I took up the offer.

I used to believe that freshers are never hired in marketing & advertising industries.

Key learning:

  1. There is nothing to be excited about an MD calling you for an interview. In fact, it shows that the company does not have HR team to take care of recruitment. Thus, it is a very small company to be considered.
  2. Do a complete research before joining such small companies. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the company’s turnover and client list.
  3. Never ever go down on the salary that you are working on. In fact, you need to ask for a raise.
  4. Don’t be afraid of getting fired from a company. There are ample opportunities waiting for you. You just need to wait for the right time.
  5. Sometimes, it takes a bit longer to find the right suit for you. But the wait will be worth it. A wrong step might hamper your career.
  6. There are all sorts of vacancies in all sorts of departments and companies depending upon the availability. Don’t worry if you are fresher.

After joining this new company, spoiling my relationship with the past colleagues, I realized that this advertising firm is not doing well and is in a serious debt. All of its clients are leaving and employees too.

I was used to of seeing 100s of employees around me and suddenly there are only 5-6 around me. I adjusted in the culture considering that this is my dream job. I convinced myself to take this as an opportunity by thinking that all the senior positions are vacant. So, if this company gets back into shape, I will be in a better position to rise up quickly.

Key learning:

  1. Never jump to conclusions without complete knowledge of the issue at hand
  2. Lack of hard work is not always the only factor of failure, there are many other reasons of a failing company
  3. Always have a word with the existing employees about the company and check its reviews on websites like Glassdoor.
  4. Do a research about the company on google as well

In the end, I would want to say, this all is a result of lack of self-confidence. Thus, it is very important to believe in yourself. Don’t lose your heart just because the time in not on your side now. This does not mean that you are not worth anything.

Make sure to look sharp everyday and in every interview. Wear a nice perfume if you can afford one. Here is a little help in choosing the right perfume for yourself.

Keep yourself motivated, it is easier said than done. But this is the only way to go. Keep trying your level best. Do not sit in the corner mourning about you are not getting any opportunities. You need to create opportunity for yourself. So, just like in sales, you have to send resumes to 100 people to get a call from 10. Out of which you might stand to get selected in 1. Or all 10, who knows. But the key is to keep trying your level best until you get what you want.

And don’t lose your heart during this process.