Run your career like its own business

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Jessica Lovegood is a user experience consultant from Milton Keynes, about to leave for Amsterdam to work for booking.com as a UX designer. She’s worked with publishers, universities, small businesses and more, but the consistent factor is the use of empathy and user experience practices to increase business success and user enjoyment.

Biggest fuck up?

The biggest mistake I made was not treating my own career like a business. I focused on the jobs themselves, promotions, and the type of place I was working, but all those things never added up to anything. I’d go to the next place, have to prove my worth again, kiss-ass and never have anything to show.

Once I really started thinking forward, thinking “What do I really want” not what does everyone else want from me, things started to change. I made sure I did great work as always, but I promoted it this time. I talked about it, recorded it, and shared it. The next time I went somewhere, they’d seen it, the ultimate testimonial is great work. I planned my marketing and focused on what money I would need to achieve certain things.

I started to run my career like its own business, regardless of freelancing/contracting. You can’t underestimate the importance of a great plan, ready for you to action!

Lightbulb moment

I’d always worked in companies, continually frustrated by bureaucracy and speed (and a lack of kindness), and I thought freelancing was the option for me, I had no doubt about this.

For various personal reasons, such as being forced to go freelance with little warning from my then-current job, a double tax bill due to an error and a wife that had a baby-sized cyst removed from her stomach, this didn’t quite work out as I’d have liked for now – I didn’t do things right.

It forced me to look internally and work out better ways to do things. Who was it who said every challenge is an opportunity?

This was the lightbulb moment where I realised that my career is my business. Knowing my niche and how to promote that. This thinking change has propelled me forward more in 6 months than the previous 6 years.

Useful advice

I’ll leave you with three tips:

  1. Decide what you want. Screw what the companies want, screw sucking up, and screw the system. There is a place for you, just make a plan and do it.
  2. Read some stuff. There are some great books and people out there that talk about ways to make yourself more successful such as Tools for Titans and The 5 second rule. Surround yourself with these things for inspiration and tips.
  3. Do only what makes you happy. Don’t take a job with a terrible commute, don’t put up with clients who don’t pay, do adventure, work hard and have fun.

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