11 ways to make a career that no one talks about

Elena Levina

Corporate Communications and HR Branding Manager.

Just a year ago, we boldly looked into the future and made ambitious professional plans. But the pandemic redrawn the planned routes. Companies froze hiring and promotion, and entire industries found themselves in deep recession. Is this an obstacle or a new opportunity? A few tips will help you use the current situation to your advantage.

Candidate requirements are subject to negotiation

As a child, I went to the store with my Hindu grandfather. He carefully looked at each item in the basket, and when we approached the cashier, he began to bargain - I was very ashamed at that moment! But what’s surprising is that he often succeeded.

Noah Kagan, founder of AppSumo, uses a technique called the “coffee challenge”: you walk into a coffee shop, place an order and ask for a 10% discount at checkout. In response to the cashier's indignant questions, continue to insist on your position and, most likely, you will receive a discount.

In the movie “Who Am I,” the main character shows how this works with an example:

“There are a lot of things in life that we perceive as something that is not negotiable, although in fact it is.”

I once applied for a business development manager position that required candidates with three to five years of experience, and I had about zero experience because I was still in college at the time. Instead of sending a resume and waiting for a response, I decided to act: I wrote to potential partners of the company and offered options for cooperation, pretending that I was already working for this company. Then he told the recruiter about the work done and the results and received an offer.

When I applied for a position as a product designer at Quora, I did a usability test of their mobile application, wrote down a few design suggestions and sent them to the head of the department. He answered me and called me for an interview. If you want to impress a recruiter with your resume, create it in our designer.

Most requirements for candidates are negotiable, unless they are professions such as theoretical physicist, surgeon, lawyer or judge. You just need to prove that you can be useful. People who are afraid to break the rules usually spend years and lose money trying to achieve goals that require much less effort in reality.


You need to purposefully engage in self-PR. Create a portfolio of your work - be it photographs, articles, advertising slogans that could demonstrate your talents to potential clients in all its glory.

Create a portfolio in both physical and electronic form; both will be useful to you: the first for personal meetings, and the second for attracting clients via the Internet. Create your own website: today every student can do this with the help of convenient user programs.

If you want to make a professional portfolio that expresses your individuality, then it is better to turn to the help of specialists. And, of course, the main component of self-promotion is your unique product. Your first clients can be relatives, friends, neighbors and acquaintances - they will tell their acquaintances about what you are great at doing or what unique services you can provide. Be brave! Feel free to promote yourself.

It doesn't matter what type of career you choose. The main thing is not to stop in your professional development. Horizontal or vertical are just different planes, and planes, as we remember from the school geometry course, are infinite. The modern world is changing rapidly, and we must change with it.

Even if it seems that in your skill you have conquered all conceivable and inconceivable peaks and stepped beyond all horizons - do not stop. Peaks grow, horizons expand, and in order not to one day end up overboard, do not allow yourself to be lazy. Good luck!

Imposter syndrome is a good thing.

The New York Times examined the reasons why certain groups of people are more economically successful than others. It may sound politically incorrect, but Asians are, on average, much more successful than everyone else.

“Indian Americans earn almost twice as much (approximately $90,000 per year, compared to the median household income of $50,000). Iranian, Lebanese and Chinese Americans also earn more." - NY Times.

The main reason is cultural differences. More successful groups of people share three characteristics:

  • superiority complex;
  • feeling insecure or feeling like they are not good enough at what they do;
  • impulse control.

Combined with the belief that you can achieve anything you want, discipline and a constant desire to live better - we get the formula for a successful and impactful career.

"Reality" is an illusion

The reality around us depends entirely on what we are used to. When I was younger, I had friends from poor families whose parents did not have a college education. When they found out that my father was a doctor, they said: “Wow, that’s so cool!”, as if it were something incredible. In their minds, becoming a doctor was unrealistic because they did not understand how to achieve it.

Dr. Foreman from House, who became a doctor despite adversity, said:

“If someone told me that they dreamed of becoming a doctor, I would have thought that this was a completely attainable goal. Because I know what it takes to get into medical school, I know the internal process, and I talk to people who have successfully gone through it.”

There are an infinite number of things that you take for granted, but that seem incredible to others.

Get a diploma? There's a guy somewhere who doesn't even dream of going to college because no one in his family has a degree. Work for a Fortune 500 company? This seems unrealistic for people whose parents work in the lowest paid jobs. Create a multi-million dollar business? An upper-middle-class teenager thinks it's impossible.

Work side by side with the best in the industry, read their books, listen to their interviews, study what they studied - and one day those unrealistic crazy dreams will come true.

Business or career growth

Business as a form of professional growth is the choice of those who are ready to take responsibility for all processes and understand, are ready to take risks and understand that successful development will take a lot of time. When starting your own business, you need to be a professional in your chosen field in order to strengthen your company’s position in the market.

Build a plan for professional growth not only for yourself, but also for the business in general. Think about what goals you want to achieve, how much you plan to earn, how you plan to develop. Find like-minded people, go to professional meetings.

Business is an excellent prospect for professional growth if you are willing to constantly improve. You must be prepared for the fact that no one will tell you what to do, but you also take full responsibility for all actions. Follow new trends, do not lose sight of competitors, contact as many professionals in your field as possible.

Don't be afraid to take risks - you'll have to do this all the time. Any experience, even negative, is your impetus for development. In business, professional growth and risks are interrelated concepts, so the more you act, try something new and unknown, the more information you gain. Of course, the risks must be justified - you need to understand what you can gain or, conversely, lose from performing this or that action.

An important question for many is at what age you can start developing in business. This is purely individual, because some people start their own business while still a student, while others decide to work for themselves after many years of professional activity. Success in business depends not so much on age, but on the speed of your reaction to any market events, the ability to be in trend and readiness for constant development.

Speaking about how professional growth and business are interconnected, we can cite the example of a couple of young entrepreneurs who decided to open their own business in school. They tried themselves in different types of activities, but eventually settled on a holiday agency. While opening the company, they simultaneously received education in the field of management, studied new trends in their professional activities, and made many new acquaintances. As a result, the small company has grown into a fairly serious organization that is trusted by more and more clients.

Don't choose a career based on average salaries and employee demand.

When you're competing to be at the top of your game, "averages" don't matter. I find it funny when people say “writers don’t make money”—I made five figures in a few months from a couple of blog posts and emails, helped hundreds of people find their dream jobs, and built an audience of 6,000+ people.

In any industry, the people who strive to be the best get enough money and success, while the rest fight for what's left. It’s similar in programming - the best developers are hired by Google and Apple, and the rest, satisfied with training in two-week online courses, only dream about it.

Do what you love and try to be the best at what you do. The rest will come.

Why do you need to develop your career?

Everyone dreams of rapid career growth and the coveted leadership position. However, in order for the plan to come true, considerable efforts will have to be made. It is worth determining why you need professional promotion. Some people are hungry for development, others want to get rich, others just want to lead a team. After identifying the main goal, it is worth understanding ,

how to build a career.

  • Someone thinks that he has stayed too long in one place. You need to find out whether you want innovation in this company or want to change your activities as a whole. In both cases, you need to look for trainings, courses, exhibitions and expand your skills.
  • If the goal is to earn money, never focus your consciousness on it. First of all, a high-quality task is completed - and only after that the calculation. Do projects at a high level and you will be noticed - your salary will certainly increase significantly.

Choose your boss, not your company.

People think that if they get a job at Facebook or Goldman Sachs, they will be employed for life. No, the key to a successful career is having a good mentor. A mentor will introduce you to a narrow circle of industry professionals, next to whom you will grow and acquire your own connections.

For example, I worked with NYT bestselling author Ramit Sethi and he introduced me to the first people in his social circle. Thanks to this, I received offers from some of the largest marketing companies in the world.

A mentor will save you from mistakes that will cost you several years of time and effort. One day I was going to apply for a job, but one of my mentors (a prominent figure in Silicon Valley) said that I shouldn't do it. This advice saved me months, even years, of going in the wrong direction.

Surround yourself with the right people - this will open up great opportunities and protect you from serious mistakes.


2020 was a period of explosive growth in the field of online learning: from master classes on baking homemade bread to long-term advanced training programs in a variety of specialties. The main thing is not to get lost in the sea of ​​offers. Otherwise, you risk catching yourself reading about the monetary system of Ancient Rome and at the same time listening to a lecture on game theory, but in fact you were going to seriously engage in landscape design.

Here are some recommendations for choosing courses and study programs.

  • If you are interested in several programs at once, go through them sequentially rather than in parallel.
  • Choose training programs wisely: consult with colleagues, find reviews and information about teachers, study the course content and training format.
  • Evaluate your strengths. If training requires completing tasks, plan time for this (and with plenty of reserve!).
  • Use free and short-term courses as demo versions. Suppose you are thinking about becoming a programmer, although you have never done anything like this before. Before you fill out the application for the annual training, take a short starter course, complete a couple of assignments and make an informed decision.

Don't be afraid to give up money for a good experience

Hedge fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller once said:

“If you are starting a career and are offered the choice of a good mentor or a big salary, always choose a mentor. These are incomparable things. And don’t even think about leaving this mentor until your knowledge takes shape and reaches its peak. There is nothing more valuable in my business or in many other businesses than a good mentor. And many kids are too short-sighted in the pursuit of short-term money instead of preparing themselves for life in the future.”

Literally every elderly person claims that the main mistake of young people is impatience. Young people focus on the short term (working for cool companies to impress family and friends), but do not think about long-term goals.

Don’t be afraid to accept a low-paying position in a good company now so that you don’t have to think about money at all in the future.

What personal qualities will you need?

Career growth requires the development of such personal qualities as:

  • determination;
  • responsibility;
  • hard work.

Accustom yourself to self-discipline, this will allow you to soberly assess your capabilities. Disciplined people command respect and are liked at all levels. Neglect of one's duties, unpunctuality, and failure to keep one's promises even once forms a negative impression of a person and closes the way to many opportunities for career and professional growth.

The ability to show yourself from the most advantageous side is also a form of professional growth. Self-PR is needed to get noticed by the right people, on whom your professional future depends. Once you create a positive impression, strive to maintain it. Success is achieved by the one whose name is well known, the one who has earned the respect and trust of management, clients and colleagues.

Motivate yourself to achieve new goals. Obstacles on your professional path should not stop you - perceive them as new impetuses for development. If you make excuses for not doing or being able to do the work instead of correcting your mistakes, you can forget about rapid career growth.

Know your worth. Even the most professional employee must be able to present himself competently. Do not try to fawn or grovel before your superiors - behave with dignity and confidence.

“You are greeted by your clothes” - this principle also applies in the professional world. Learn to take care of your appearance, dress appropriately for the occasion, and always come in clean and tidy clothes. Things don’t have to be expensive at all - you can pick up things in the mid-price category, the main thing is that they look presentable.

What brought you to level 1 will not help you get to level 2

Technical skills are extremely important early in your career. They test you on your knowledge of Excel or writing code, etc. But over time, communication skills come to the fore - how you can find a common language with people and work in a team.

Most people think that if they reach heights in their craft, it's a done deal. This is partly true - being a master of your craft is very important, but you need a little more than that. You need to understand how to navigate the world of corporate politics, how to approach a toxic business partner, or how to motivate employees. It’s also cool not to wait for a task from a manager, but to do something yourself: invent, implement, analyze.


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Real education begins after college

It's sad that many people think they know everything because they graduated from university. In fact, most of the material from lectures cannot be applied in real life.

Successful people read more than one book a month, listen to podcasts, go to conferences, read research, and discuss The Next Big Thing with other successful people. Therefore, they can “connect the dots” between unrelated subjects and use these insights to discover more possibilities—they see the world from different angles and perspectives.

Don't outsource your company's success

One day, a prominent venture capitalist in the Valley decided to work in a coffee shop for a month. Imagine an incredibly successful CEO behind a cash register, taking orders and delivering coffee. He wanted to learn how a coffee shop works from the inside: understand the logistics, systems, bottlenecks, inefficiencies, customer flow, etc.

Most people don't even want to think about such a low-prestige job. They believe that working for companies like McDonald's or Starbucks is inherently bad, and that only working for big name companies is good for a future career.

But a company is only as good as you make it good. For someone who worked at McDonald's to learn the restaurant business from the inside and then open their own fast food, this job will be the most rewarding experience in the world. On the other hand, a person who wants to get a job once and for all, with a couple of big brands on his resume, will most likely be disappointed.

No job is good or bad by default—it is what you make it.

Working in a well-known company: pros and cons

Edit your resume

Time away is a great opportunity to slow down and self-evaluate. Take this chance to patch up the holes in your resume and portfolio.

To begin, describe your current tasks taking into account the future path you have chosen: omit unnecessary details and focus on key skills and achievements. Imagine yourself in the place of a recruiter: what is left unsaid in your resume or, conversely, redundant? Show your resume to more experienced colleagues and ask for feedback and recommendations.

If your work requires a portfolio, then create or edit it and add fresh work.

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