Marco Buscaglia, Tribune Content Agency

The Chicago Tribune, March 31, 2019 —

Everyone has an opinion when it comes to careers. There’s so much advice and tips, it’s difficult to know what’s good and what’s not. Well, here are five nuggets of career wisdom that may be of help:

1. Sell the experience:

Steve Nichols, a retired HR director, says job-seekers shouldn’t count on their skills to get hired. Instead, they should sell their potential employers on the experience of working with them.

“When you look at cars, a good salesperson isn’t telling you about the horsepower and the space in the trunk. He’s selling the experience. He says something like ‘do you drive your kids to school? You do? Think about the mornings — all these cup holders, no climbing over seats. You can pre-start it to warm it up.’ You buy into it because you see how that car benefits you,” he says.

“Jobs are the same. ‘Are you looking for someone who can switch gears in an instant? I thrive at that. I don’t get frustrated when we have to make big changes midway through a project. It actually gives me a little jolt.’ Put them in a problem and offer yourself as the solution to that problem.”

2. Change the game:

It may seem impossible to improve your lot at work, especially after you’ve made a huge mistake, but you might be surprised at how quickly you — and your career — can come out of a tailspin. “Once you own up to the issue, small stones can create huge ripples,” says Helene Louis, a career-advising social worker. “People don’t realize something simple can turn into something incredible. People who turn in sloppy work make an effort to get more sleep and then suddenly, their work improves. A waiter studies up on the specials so he can answer questions directly and his tips improve. Small causes, large effects.”

3. Story of your life?

No thanks: When putting together your resume, fight the urge to tell your life story. Sure, you can create a six-page PDF explaining how great you are, but why? The resume is meant to be a condensed-yet-thorough summary of your skills and your potential. Just because you can send a recruiter 10 pages of your life’s history, adorned with cool graphics, nifty fonts and a well-placed selfie, don’t. In many ways, a resume is a resume is a resume, to paraphrase Lin-Manuel Miranda, so don’t overthink it. Establish your brand, tell your story and pique your potential employer’s interest.

4. Mentoring motivations:

If you’re trying to find the reasons why you enjoy working at a certain job, it’s often helpful to work with a newly hired employee. Proteges are always looking for advice and leadership in their new field of work, so you may find that sharing your knowledge and experience is helpful not only to your mentee, but also to you. If you choose this route, keep in mind that being a mentor comes with a certain set of responsibilities. If you plan on bad-mouthing your profession or company to a younger co-worker, you should take a pass. You want to inspire your protégé, not kill their spirit.

5. Power of the people:

When Mary Hatch lost her job two years ago, she stayed positive and active by working at a Starbucks. She suggests taking a part-time job in “a crowded place” while looking for a full-time opportunity, a strategy she says is especially essential for those who lose motivation when they’re alone. “You just have to keep moving. There’s no stagnation, no sitting around. That will kill you. It will take away all your energy and ambition. Go find a place to work where you’ll be surrounded by lots of people. Feed off of that.”