These days, it seems like the most popular career advice — especially for the younger generation — is not to just find a job. Instead, everyone from thought leaders to popular bloggers are advising recent college graduates to ditch the traditional hunt for high-paying dream occupations (such as doctor and lawyer) and instead “do what you love.”
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This maxim has been a cornerstone of career advice for years. Y-Combinator founder Paul Graham has used it, as has entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, and DWYL recently made an appearance in a popular post on Medium.
But is telling 22-year-olds to “do what you love” really the most realistic career advice? Let’s face it — most recent graduates have no clue what they want, let alone what they love. Some studies have shown that the brain isn’t fully developed until at least the age of 25, which would demonstrate that college graduates aren’t even capable of even knowing what they love. Telling them to sit idle and wait for a career they love — while they hang out at home with mom and dad — could actually be the worst career advice ever.
“The idea that you should ‘follow your passion’ is dated advice that’s just not relevant in the current economic climate,” says Dan Schawbel in a recent article in BloombergBusinessweek. “If all you do is follow your passion, there’s a good chance you’ll be homeless by the time you’re 30.”
Instead, he suggests that millennials should have a solid career plan when they graduate. This plan should include:
1. Picking a career that matches your lifestyle. Schawbel advises graduates to look for jobs that are the right fit for what works for them. Instead of throwing your resume at the wall and hoping it sticks somewhere, consider looking for companies with the type of culture that you want to work with. This includes the right type of hours, commute, dress-code and, of course, benefits.
2. Carve out your own niche. “Clearly explain on your resume, and during interviews, what makes you special,” he says. One way to figure out what you’re good at — even if you haven’t had much experience — is to ask friends, family, and former teachers. If you’re a talented writer, make your copywriting and editing skills clear on your resume.
3. Date around the job market. Finally, it’s important to get to know the job market — and especially your industry. These days, employers don’t expect you to stick around a company for your entire career. While you shouldn’t job hop too much, it’s important to gain skills and get to know what works for you — and also, what doesn’t. Spend time with a few different companies early in your career so you can decide what you do what you want to spend the rest of your life doing. Hopefully, by the time you have that figured out, you might actually have landed on something you actually do love.
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