Monthly Archives: October 2011

Skills Are Experiences and Nothing Else

Malcolm Gladwell writes in his book Outliers, that anyone can become a professional in any field after 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. In Geoff Colvin’s Talent Is Overrated, deliberate practice is defined as:

“Deliberate practice is activity designed specifically to improve performance, often with a teacher’s help; it can be repeated a lot; feedback on results is continuously available; it’s highly demanding mentally, whether the activity is purely intellectual, such as chess or business-related activities, or heavily physical, such as sports; and it isn’t much fun.”

What have you already done for 10,000 hours? Or 5,000 hours? Or 2,000 hours? Here are ways to build experience:

  • Work. Try jobs you think you’ll enjoy. Always start part-time. Learn about the field in one or two companies (regardless of the salary), then approach a full-time employer with more knowledge and confidence about the industry (and a higher salary).
  • Volunteer: all volunteering work is rewarding. This includes working for free in companies you find interesting; see below.
  • Gap-year experiences (including travel) give you time and independence to find fields of work you never knew existed (in cultures you never knew existed).
  • Do Internships: the job market is much bigger if you don’t ask for a salary. Rather than aiming for specific companies, approach smaller companies in your field of interest. Ask them (via a personalised, hand-written or printed letter delivered to the HR manager, including your résumé) for an internship in one or more relevant sectors. Ask for a “small stipend, to cover [lunch/travel] costs”, or state that you’re willing to work unpaid. Smaller companies tend to allow you to try/observe more aspects of their operations than companies.
  • Attend classes at your local university. Some of them are free.
  • Read. Then write about what you read.
  • Listen to free classes on iTunes U. Most of them are free.
James blogs about education, recruitment and careers in China. Blog posts arrive at 5pm daily (UK time). This blog is censored in China.

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Filed under Self-Improvement, Skill, Tool Box

Cast a Wide Net

Wherever you go, there you are, right?

That being said, can you be in two places at the same time?  Or three?  Or fifty????  Probably not, if you think conventionally.  However, if you just realize that every day you meet people.  Whether at the grocery store, gas station, post office, hospital or wherever.  Every person you meet is an opportunity to make a connection; to learn about them, and to share about yourself.  When you are looking for a job, it is important to get the word out to everyone you meet.  I don’t mean just run up to perfect (and not-so-perfect) strangers and say, “HEY!  I need a job.  Can you help me?”  But, you can briefly mention in it as a part of your conversation with that person.   Likewise, if they are looking for a job, or a new car, or a restaurant, they will ask you!  And you will do your best to help them get their answer.  We all do that for each other.  Or, at least most of us do!  So, know that when you tell someone you are looking for a new job or career, they are taking that information with them.  And sharing.  And those they share it with are sharing.  And sharing.  And so on.

Remember that you are never alone.  It just feels that way sometimes.  But, believe me.  Somewhere, someone is helping you.  You just don’t know it!

Sandy Jolley

Employment Specialist

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Filed under Network, Skill, Tool Box