Keys to Success

By Ted Bagley

Question- What can I expect as I enter the world of work just out of college or out of the military?

Answer- This is a question that invades the mind of many a new college graduate and military personnel as they consider their futures and job opportunity. These resources will be joining other entrants into the work world as they cross the threshold into corporate America. These groups are made up of multi generations, veterans, immigrants and those returning to the workforce after long periods of being away because of personal time demands. There are many surveys that support the fact that over 65% of entrants never make it through their first year of employment. Many “flame out” after the first couple of years primarily because they either miss-read the environment, encountered non-flexible leadership or wasn’t a good fit for the company’s culture. Because there is tremendous competition for the limited number of positions in certain industries, new entrants tend to accept jobs well below their competency level and soon become bored because of the lack of immediate advancement or lack of career challenge.

One of the resource groups, the new generation called GenY or Millennials, is not as dedicated to one company as their parents were creating more of a workforce of “shifting sands”. These technical gurus are impatient, competent, aggressive and want success now without the sweat equity that goes with it. They want environments having the right feel, culture, opportunities and work-life balance. They value their time, their travel, their independence yet don’t mind living at home. They don’t want massive responsibilities and do not have their parents measuring stick of having the big house on the hill, two cars in the driveway and a dog or cat. They like their space and if some of these extrinsic things fit into their space, they will give them consideration.

Entering also into the growing pool of available talent are those returning from the military with expectations that jobs will be waiting for them after such a life changing ordeal. Their expectations are dashed because the world they left no longer has the same characteristics. The country has moved quickly from one of plentiful manufacturing jobs to one of service where the skill requirements are vastly different. Because of the cost of doing business, many companies pack up and move overseas where the labor pool is less costly. Our young men and women are being thrown into a world of dissolution and disappointment because they no longer can qualify in the new world order. Their options are to get the training through costly course work or accepting jobs paying well below the level needed to support themselves or their families.

I would like to see that trend changed for the many excellent minds that are produced by our colleges and universities, as well as our military units across the nation. There are certain success factors that are not guaranteed to result in a successful career but can assist in making a success a distinct possibility. The factors that I refer to are what I call Ted’s top ten:

  • A good start doesn’t always guarantee a positive finish but it is a big help. Learn early in the process, those networks within an organization, which are success keys.
  • Make time management a key priority. First impressions are lasting. Leaders form opinions of you early in the process that, if incorrect, can be career limiting.
  • Identify a coach or mentor in the early stages of your employment. It must be someone who has your best interest at heart and not just someone who was part of the mentoring formal process. Good mentors happen naturally through networking. Use the company’s educational resources to continue to develop your competencies. Keep your knowledge reservoir full.
  • Learn a foreign language if you did do so as part of your college or military curriculum/experience. Many companies are global in nature which will enhance your chances of growth. Two suggested languages that are in demand (Spanish and Mandarin).
  • Be mobile and receptive to moving geographically wherever the employer needs your skills. A lack of mobility automatically limits opportunity.
  • Develop and maintain your project management skills. Having the ability to move a project from its inception to closure is invaluable in today’s competitive climate.
  • Work well as part of a team. Team work can very well help you to determine whether you are geared to the leadership track or that of an individual contributor. Those from the military should be well prepared to work in teams.
  • If the opportunity presents itself, accept an international (Expat) assignment which will give you the breadth and depth of experience in other cultures. Expat assignments are usually given to those individuals who have proven themselves as “High potential” or “Key to Retain” based on prior performance.
  • Maintain a great “Attitude” which promotes “Aptitude” which, most often leads, to career “Altitude”.

Though these ten attributes will not automatically move you to the head of the class, they will get you in the game. Interview with companies that you have researched and feel comfortable with their vision and mission. Culture fit is a major gauge in whether your career with a company will start with a bang and continue as an explosive ride or fizzle from the lack energy and excitement. You spend a majority of your time in the work place so why not be in a place that you enjoy for all of the right reason that only you can define.

From “The Success Factor”