Career advice from the LinkedIn founder

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Every day, I feel the butterflies in my stomach as I get closer to graduation and starting my life. Like many of my fellow grads, I’m anxious because, in some respects, I don’t feel ready for the real world. I’ve learned a lot in school; but I don’t feel supplied with all the skills needed to operate in the workforce, nor do I know what kind of career I want.

LinkedIn chairman Reid Hoffman co-authored The Start-up of You with writer and entrepreneur Ben Casnocha. In the book, Hoffman says that it took him 15 years to figure out his life purpose. He provides important career advice to new grads that aren’t sure where they want to be in the future in the form of a presentation — sort of a series of slides.

Hoffman has spoken with many new graduates and most have a notable commonality—they don’t feel ready for the workforce. According to Hoffman, the education system doesn’t provide a practical model for training students to prosper in the ever-changing workforce. Consequently, many young people feel unprepared for professional life.

It’s common for many young folks to be unsure about their future and career plans. As students and new grads, we often ask ourselves what we should do with our lives, how to find a career that brings all our interests together and best utilize our youth. According to Hoffman, instead of thinking about ourselves, we ought to consider our environment and how to contribute to it.

In this economy, jobs are scarce and in high demand; therefore, young professionals need a competitive edge to secure and retain positions. According to Hoffman, a competitive edge comprises three things: assets, aspirations and market realities. Assets are everything you have going for you, aspirations are dreams of where you’d like to be in the future and market realities are what people will actually pay you. Hoffman states that the best career has you pursuing aspirations while utilizing your assets and exploring the market.

It’s also very important to build and sustain lasting relationships with people. Since individuals control opportunities, it’s necessary to associate yourself with those who inspire you and help you to create the image of your future self.

Our generation is entering a brave new world where nothing is certain and everything changes at an incredible rate. Today, the biggest risk anyone can take is not taking a risk at all; however, Hoffman says it’s important to take intelligent risks. For example, turning down a handsome pay in exchange for big learning opportunities is an intelligent risk. Conversely, a risk associated with the ruin of your career is not a risk you should be willing to take.

In review, develop your competitive advantage, build your network and take intelligent risks.

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