Wednesday, November 5, 2008

30 Career Lessons from Barack Obama's Campaign

As a registered independent voter, I read news from multiple sources. I read an article a few months ago at the Weekly Standard and thought I would save my comments until after the election.

The article was titled - Would You Hire Barack Obama? The Resume of a Chronic Underachiever, by Dean Barnett.

Barnett, a former headhunter for law firms, was reviewing Barack Obama's career and resume. His ultimate conclusion was: "The net effect is this: His accomplishments haven't been commensurate with his talents."

I wondered what Barnett would say now? Having worked in the career management field for a while, I know that there are recruiters with stories of hires who performed well beyond expectations or those hires that were overlooked and underestimated.

Since hindsight is better than 20/20, I thought I would list some of the career lessons I think one could learn from Barack Obama's campaign for the job of United States President.

1. Set personal goals
2. Stay away from those who say “You Can’t”
3. Plan and prepare for the long haul
4. To land a meaningful job, prepare for a really tough interview
5. Keep improving through the job search and beyond
6. Develop a personal board of advisors for support
7. Surround yourself with a diverse group of people with diverse thoughts
8. Develop a backbone. Even successful careers can have disappointments
9. Think around, outside and under the box. The way forward may not necessarily be clear or straight ahead
10. Don't expect your career paths to be logical to everyone looking on
11. Don’t burn your bridges behind you. You may need a reference or two eventually
12. Be mindful of what your associations can say about who you are
13. You don’t need to have all the experience in the job description to apply
14. Job descriptions get rewritten all the time
15. Be open to the fact that you might be underestimated
16. Some people will like you for the job and some will not
17. Some will laugh behind your back when they find out you are applying for a certain job
18. The real work begins after you land the job
19. Know your competition and do not underestimate them
20. Think transferable skills. eg. What skills did I develop as a community organizer or PTA President that could be valuable when changing careers.
21. You may have to say things during an interview to impress your future boss
22. You have to build consensus to move ideas forward
23. Keep track of your accomplishments; no one else is obligated to do that for you
24. You may find people want to hang around you, just because you are successful – not because they care
25. Education and training mean something
26. Hard work and discipline pays off eventually
27. It is not a shame to strategically plan your career
28. Many people are not working in their college majors
29. The more people who support you and your ideas, the more successful you will be
30. You are always preparing for your next career opportunity, regardless of what you are doing.

Did I miss anything? I am sure I did!


Jackie Cameron said...

Great list, Marcia! My own personal number 1 is your number 2 - don't associate with anyone who is keen to rain on your parade. Feedback should always be welcome but criticism ( even if it is badged as "constructive") should not.

Eugene said...

This is quite a list. I like #8. You have to be able to "take a licking and keep on ticking".

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

25. Education and training mean something.

Not where I work!!! I recieved my MBA and got relocated to a lower position. This while others with lesser education (clique members) get promoted! In 9 years I have had 7 supervisors. Instead of an open-door policy we have a "revolving-door" policy. Management's attitude is "If you don't like it - there's the door. You are easily replaced - there is a line of people wanting your job."