Friendly Career Advice from me to you
Friendly Career Advice from me to you

The internet is abound with career advice. I have decided to jump on that gravy train with my own bit of friendly career advice. I can promise that my advice will guarantee you the great job and career you have been looking for!

Swirl paw

Meowpolis, Purristan – Saturday 6 June 2015

Before I get underway, I first wish to say, you are welcome. Nowhere else are you going to find such a complete bit of insight, absolutely guaranteed to land you that great career you have always fancied. The best part is that just about anyone can employ my insight for almost any career path!

In fact, it is so absolute in its effectiveness that we may consider it a law, much like those Laws of Physics. Do you need a college degree? No not really. A technical certification? Of course not! Perhaps a high acumen? Not at all! A bumbling ignorant high school dropout can land a premiere career at a prestigious firm by following my advice. The only real prerequisite is affability and, perhaps, youth, but neither is always required.

The first thing I should address is caveats. Bear in mind that even within these caveats, my advice still works. Nevertheless, for how I frame it – almost anyone, almost any career – it is worth noting what these exceptions are. Prior to practising law, one must first be a lawyer. If you are a lawyer, this bit of advice will help advance your career. However, those who are not lawyers will not, using my advice alone, successfully land a great career where being a lawyer is required. A career in medicine is another example. You may use your knowledge of local regulations to help you identify other similar caveats. Any career regulated by government is one where there is a sincere need for a particular degree, affiliation, certification, and so on.

I will now begin the enlightening process

Many humans enjoy feeling superior to others. This may help explain the success of reality television. Those born to a fine family, who go to a fine school, earn a particular degree, intern with a notable firm related to that degree, and go on to have respectable careers may have a hard time admitting my advice is actually true. There really is not much need for all the things they have done.

British Elites
British Elites

The majority of careers, with exceptions noted, do not actually require a particular college degree to perform well in the role. Sure recruiters and employers will say it is required, but in reality, it is not. You do not even need an A-Level qualification or a high school diploma. You may think you have to have a background in programming to begin a great career at a famed tech company as a programmer. You do not. Perhaps you want to be a project manager at a renowned Fortune 500. You can land that job, even if you were a feral child. Maybe you want to be the person at a corporate office who makes the most money coming up with redundant and needless checklists for all their retail store employees to maintain. No worries, you can have that job!

There certainly are many who land these careers because of their education or skills. They worked hard, and chance was on their side. For some, all they needed was to go to a premiere school. By virtue of attending a university like your quaint Harvard, they very likely did not even need to apply for the job, with recruitment occurring right out of the student body! You may follow that path. And certainly, those who attend premiere schools face competition and challenge - primarily from others who attended premiere schools. But they are competing for the elite jobs; they could always settle for a lowly career a typical human would consider a dream job. Regardless, you may skip all the rigmarole and follow my advice.

You might notice how I am leading you, as similar articles do. The difference is that I promise, at the end of this, I will actually tell you the advice, rather than trying to get you to buy my book (note: I have written no books concerning career advice). Another difference is that I will not have you click a next button twenty times. Stay with me. Part of this insight includes understanding the groundwork.

The traditional method of finding a job

Many notable business people have lamented there is some talent shortage out there. Europe and North America are not producing enough people with the right skills, they say. A good reason why it may seem there is a talent shortage is how humans try to find jobs.

Usual Suspects
Some Usual Suspects

Some dullard, very likely already enormously privileged, thinks he has a great idea, and he convinces some people to finance his great idea, and that great idea becomes a web based job board. He becomes rich, forever labelled a brilliant entrepreneur. The great idea is genius because it matches keywords! An employer posts a job, at a fee, and others apply for that job. The posting recruiter then filters out everyone based on entirely arbitrary requirements and keywords. Does the applicant have a bachelor's degree (in anything, serving as evidence of its arbitrariness)? No? Dead to me! So says the software anyway, for the recruiter will never see your resume. Those who know how to game the system, or hire professionals who will help them game the system, ensuring keywords are in those resumes, will overwhelm the recruiter. Those who get to the phone call stage, or are brought in for an interview, may turn out not to be ideal. Hooray, there is a talent shortage! Today things have gotten even more keyword based, with no sign of abatement. All these job boards, which you surely know and love, continue raising money off their amazing algorithms, and all failing to actually help most people find jobs.

Stop making noted business people claim there is a talent shortage

Remember, there is little or no need for actual skills or talent to begin most careers. Therefore, their critique is moot. You do not have be good at something to get the great job. Once you get the great job, you can learn to get good at it. This may sound odd, but if you think about it, it is obvious. This is very likely how your whole career has already gone.

With that in mind, stop using job boards. They are a complete waste of time. Even worse are those that both charge employers to post ads, and charge you to apply for those jobs! Typically, this model sells itself under the banner of exclusivity. Notice that these exclusive boards are generally open to anyone willing to fork over the money (money they obviously hate having). It is still a job board. Others may allow you, at a price, to spam people. This is repugnant behaviour. Stop doing that. Jobs successfully filled via internet job boards occurs only about 5 per cent of the time. The odds of you using one of these job boards to land not just a great job, but any job, is little more than the statistical margin of error.

How do the elite get those great jobs?

Excluding the aforementioned caveats, the elite hold the best careers, though again no skill or talent is actually required to begin most great careers. I should note I am not talking about the rich. In fact, you, the reader, may already be the very elite to whom I am referring. A human with a great job; one that is at least middle class. Unfortunately, that is now elite, by the standards of the majority.

Middle Class
Middle Class Labour

By middle class, I mean someone whose income is enough to live in at least a moderately safe and clean environment, and could purchase a new car in a reasonable time-frame if they were to want one. This is someone who can take vacations, at least once, each year (this is far easier for some Europeans, who, unlike Americans, may get vacations as part of law). This human can save for retirement without having to make hard choices, while helping to raise a family. This human does not have to stress about bills for basic expenses. Sure, none likes a bill, but I mean really stressing about them. With the kinds of economic data we see, those who can actually live the classic middle class life are not as common as polls suggest. Most humans in the Western world, somehow, seem to think they are middle class. It is a remarkable phenomenon and demonstrably untrue, unless you have a rather expansive definition of "lower middle class".

Regarding a great career, I mean simply one that provides for the above, while also being enjoyable, rewarding work. This is abstract, but I am sure you can figure that part out for yourself. If you do something because you feel like you have no choice in the matter, it likely does not meet the criteria of enjoyable and rewarding. Go from there. Ideally, you should already have some careers in mind.

The questions then become, how and why did some people land these great careers and most do not? How then can you, the typical human, land a great career and join those elite? These are not vexing questions.

For many, it is victory in the Parental Lottery. Oh well. Love thy mother and father, regardless. If your mother is a successful business owner, then no matter how hard you try at failing, you likely will still live at least in the middle class. Whether it ever really existed as more than a historical novelty, all know the virtues of meritorious society. This is the famed idea of a natural aristocracy, rather than the inherited one. Tragic as it may be, until you change it, the meritocracy is myth. Who your parents are is a key point, and one that will come up again.

Then, for others, acceptance into a premiere school is the deciding factor. This is an affiliation. It may result from who their parents are, either directly or indirectly. Perhaps they had access to quality tutors, or had economic liberty in their home, not having to work throughout secondary or high school, and thus engaging in many extracurricular activities or programmes. Perhaps it was genetics, having tremendous acumen. It certainly could have been from sincere hard work. They might have had fine counselors in school who informed them of opportunities others may have never considered, simply out of ignorance or humility. The critical thing about the premiere university is the affiliation.

Another path is blind luck. Perhaps a person got in on the ground floor of an emerging startup, and that company became a revered household name. This too is an affiliation, and essentially operates as a substitute for the premiere school. If you attend Harvard, you can get a job at Google for little reason beyond simply having attended Harvard. If you got the job at Google before anyone had ever heard of it, then it works the same on your resume as Harvard would, allowing you to work at just about any premiere company simply for having worked at Google.

Regardless of how they got there, the one thing these all share sums up my career advice. Therefore, without further stalling, I shall present it to you. Drum roll please.

Chairman Meow's Law of Liaison

Chairman Meow's Law of Liaison states that, all things being equal, the only thing that matters is whom you know.

This bit of insight might depress you. It likely is something you already know. Chairman Meow's Law of Liaison, after all, does follow in the path of Stigler's Law of Eponymy. Whether it is depressing or already known, the painful truth of it is that it is the deciding factor in nearly all cases.

Why is so-and-so successful? Because so-and-so knew the right people. These people may have been their parents. Perhaps it was a childhood friend. Maybe a classmate from college or former coworker. It really does not matter whom specifically. What matters is the knowing.

You are your friends

As I mentioned earlier, job boards fill some five per cent of jobs. What fills a larger per cent of jobs is referrals. I will go out on a limb and wildly guess you acquired the job you presently have because a friend of yours helped grease the wheels, assuming they did not personally hire you themselves. Even if you have a great career, landing your current job cold and on your own, ask yourself if your career began that way, without the connection, affiliation, or similar.

What often happens is that people interact with those who are most often around them. If you work at a retail store, then most of the people you know likely work in retail. Before you realise it, you have a career in retail, and it is not a middle class life. It is likely neither rewarding nor necessarily enjoyable. Sure, out of necessity, you may find ways to enjoy it. You might find the people you work with the one thing you appreciate most about it. Regardless, you find yourself having to do it because it is what you do, and the people you know can only refer you to other retail jobs. This career-referral and peers is a similar thing regarding all careers, from the working class to the elite.

One of the reasons a premiere school ensures at least a successful middle class life, aside from the near universal preference amongst employers to have elite employees, is because your classmates are the sons and daughters of the titans of industry, finance, government, and so forth. If you want a great career, the person sitting next to you in class is heir to successful company, and they will happily refer you, if not outright hire you. If you have an idea for a new app, the father of the goofy kid in your group assignment is a major venture capitalist. What I am driving at, no matter how much they may argue to the contrary, is that the value in premiere schools is not the quality of the education.

If you have the greatest app idea in the world, but live in a trailer in rural Alabama, you may as well get used to working at a Waffle House.

If your best friend is Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, you very likely have a job at Facebook. At least you had one, until you cashed out and became the person everyone wants to know. You can easily use that affiliation to get a top gig at almost any other premiere tech company, or frankly just about anywhere else. You could use that affiliation to get a meeting with venture financiers, even if your idea for an app lacks merit. Whereas, if you have the greatest app idea in the world, but live in a trailer in rural Alabama, you may as well get used to working at a Waffle House.

You do not need to have a degree, or certification or talent, or even a skill, if you know the right people. You can get that great job and start a fabulous and successful career. Let us suppose, for a moment, that you are a bartender at a local nightclub. One fellow who keeps talking to you is the person who decides who to hire at Famous Corporation. If you are smart, you will make fast friends with this person, and at some point inquire about a job. The person may wax on about certain skills, but deep down, they know all those hired go through a three-month training programme. If this person moves from acquaintance to friend, you will find yourself in that training programme. Congratulations, you have joined the elite.

Friendship is real, and can be nothing but

I would be remiss if I do not remind you that humans have this curious behaviour where they enjoy feeling superior to others. They do not want to admit that, in most cases, you do not actually need to know anything or be skilled in any way to get these elite jobs. They want you to look at them in awe and envy. They want you to see their success as a reflection of their acumen and fortitude. They love being elite, as would you, and they do not want you in their club. Unfortunately, Caucasians, especially males, dominate this club. Humans huddle together in their cliques, and so making these right connections is easier, by default, for other Caucasian males. Fear not, there is opportunity for everyone! The right connection is out there. The hard part is finding this person and becoming their best friend.

You cannot fake it. No one likes a fake friend. If you meet a well-connected person, but you do not click with them, or just do not like them, move on. Do not force yourself to be friends with someone. Besides, no matter how close you get, if they are devoid of substance, they will not be opening that door for you.

Dave Thomas
Dave Thomas – Founder of Wendy's

How do you find these people? For the most part, it will be chance. The founder of the fast food chain Wendy’s, Dave Thomas, was a high school dropout who was lucky enough to meet Colonel Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The rest is history. You can increase chance by living in places where these people might be, such as London or New York. If you live on a rural farm, you likely will not meet the right people. If you have the opportunity to live in a place where the right connections in the field you are interested in might also be, that alone will not get you there. You are closer, and chance is increased, but that is it. Your costs of living is higher, and your free time will be considerably more limited. And you will still need to find them and identify them.

You could try social media. You might use LinkedIn and pay to spam people. However, this is likely to get you blocked. Over time, you could slowly build familiarity with the right people via Twitter or Instagram. However, if you have never personally met these people, you will never be their best friend.

Twitter Headquarters – San Francisco

If your dream job were, say, a position at Twitter, perhaps it would help to get a job at a Starbucks across the street from the Twitter headquarters. You will eventually get to know your regulars, and many of them will be Twitter employees. As you get to know them, you might find yourself going out on social excursions with them. Heck, they are people, you are people! People do people stuff. If you can make friends, then you have the primary prerequisite. With enough time and regular contact, you can make friends with these people.

Assuming the people you meet are just employees, then no matter how close you get, they will not be able to get you past the skills or affiliations wall demanded by the recruiters they will refer you to (where prior premiere school or premiere employer are decisive). It is critical that you make "besties" with the person or persons who actually make the final decision about who to hire and send through to that training programme! You must get around those annoying recruiters who demand unreasonable things like a relevant background, for even if you might have one; these things are rarely of any consequence if you are not already in the club.

If you meet the right person, the one who makes the final decision, you will join the elite, with a fine job that affords you a real middle class life. The younger you are, the more time you have to work on relationships, and the more likely you will be able to connect with fellow twentysomethings who are developing their careers. Once in, you can then do what everyone else does, regardless of his or her background: learn the job and get good at it. Once you have done that, you will have the premiere firm on your resume with a number of years of experience. Congratulations, you will have to try, and try hard, to fall out of that elite clique.

As you go forward in your life and career, always remember Chairman Meow's Law of Liaison, for it is enlightenment, and will bring you great fortune. By appreciating the possibility that anyone you meet might be able to open a door for you, you might work harder avoiding any chance of coming across as a jerk. The cliques you humans immerse yourselves in can so easily cast aside others, as those elite groups do by their very nature and privileged composition. Remember that your society developed from humans working together and bettering themselves. You can be both self-interested, particularly in your efforts at connecting with the right people, while being selfless, allowing for genuine friendships to develop from those connections and remembering to help others still beneath you on the ladder to join as you work your way up. A quality civilisation cannot succeed if you allow only those already privileged and elite to remain so, from generation to generation, at the exclusion of all others.

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