Find People Who Fill In Your Professional Gaps

So the old saying goes that no man is an island. I would note that very technically someone standing in water is an isolated body in water, and thus technically an island, but then I’m just being a jerk.

But the truth is we’re not complete. Human beings are naturally inclined to work with each other (even if we’re not doing so by benevolence), which makes sense. There’s a lot we can’t do on our own.

In fact there’s huge blanks in our lives as there are simply thinks we’re not capable of. I can pretty much guarantee that you don’t write your own software, cook your own food, repair your own car, build your own house, and remove your own appendix. Buckaroo Banzai and TOny Stark, those Omnicompetent heroes of fiction are just that – the Renaissance man is an ideal to aspire to at best.

If you’re any kind of professional or a creative with professional aspiration, you want to find people who fill in your blanks.

Awareness By The Book

I’ve always been a pretty independent guy, but for me my work on writing made me painfully aware of jut how much I can’t do on my own. I’m not a great technical editor (at best I’m average), I can’t do cover art, and I can’t create a multibillion dollar distribution company with a self-publishing branch. Hell, even pre-reading gets hard as after awhile I’m tired of my own damn book.

My own career? I’m a Project and Program Manager. I provide things other people can’t do (organization) but in turn I am vastly ignorant about the many areas I touch and have to rely on people. I am spread thinner than a specialist, and so I have to have others around.

Sure I coached others, filling in their gaps.  But really I also have to fill in my own.

You should be too.

The Gaps You Face

You address an issue by being aware of it. So here’s the places I’ve found myself and others may need someone to fill in our blanks career-wise.

Resumes – Look, everyone should know how to make a good resume. Maybe you can, but if you can’t find someone who can.

Economics – Yeah, I always advise people to be aware of the economy. But sometimes being aware is knowing “I should ask Dave what the hell happened.” If you know your grasp of economics isn’t the best, then find someone who can advise you.

Organization – We should all be organized enough to keep our lives in order, but some of us are not long-term planners. Be it a roommate who keeps the budget or admitting your Project Manager should tell you what to do, sometimes you need organizational skills – on the job or off.

Relations – On the job you might not exactly be Mr. or Mrs. sociable. That’s ok – some jobs require intense focus to get done. So if you’re not the most sociable of people, let your boss/co-workers/etc. know so hey can help out. Some teams even work well with a designated “face” – get the gregarious person to get out there and do the work of being likable.

Social Media – Ugh, I’ve seen some people make some sad social media mistakes (most notably, public pictures of them with a beer bong during a job search). If you’re engaged on social media, it might not hurt to ask one of your savvy friends for tips on how that may affect your career.

Investment – I am a strong believer in managing your own investments. In fact my usual take is “Index and/or retirement fund and that’s it). But if you can find someone you trust to advise you, its worth it if you’re not up for that thing. It may take time to find someone reliable (and I’m prone to only trust “investment professionals” after careful evaluation), but its worth it.

Career Steps – We almost all have to “outsource” getting career ideas from people more senior to us as they have the experience. Learn to ask for help, observe those where you want to be, and learn. Trust me, I never expected to be where I am now – but it worked. I probably could have listened earlier.

It’s OK

So look, it’s OK to admit on the job, on the job search, you can’t do everything. I firmly believe you should do as much as you can, but you won’t be able to do it all.

But also be aware – you can fill in someone else’s gaps. There’s things you’ve got. There’s things you’re good at. Maybe you can even set up a trade.

Hell, good co-workers and good friends fill in each others gaps instinctively. you might know more – and need more – than you realize . . .

– Steve

The Many Sides of ‘Professional’

I often hear over and over again "I'm not a professional" when it comes to their careers.  Usually it's in the form of "I can't do that, I'm not a professional" when I hear it, and usually from a person forgetting that all professionals have to start somewhere.

I also hear people talk about being professional.  It's usually how one acts professional, or dresses professional.  Reams of books are written on how to repress your urges, dress like everyone else, and thus somehow "be professional."

I see "professional" everywhere.  So what is all this "professional" about?

I think when it comes to "professional" people are often talking about different things.

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What Is Professional?

"But I'm not a professional," many people say to me when I discuss their careers.

I hear this a lot.  Aspiring artists, writers, publishers, coders, etc.  They all figure they're not professional now, but at some point in the future they'll be pros.  Until that point they're not professionals – and thus they figure no one will talk to them, they can't join professional groups, etc.  Professional comes with some special future achievement like the right job or the right degree.

I think that's B.S.  Professional is an attitude.

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