Talk to 10 different people, and you may get 10 different stories of how they found their careers. Some knew when they started college what they were “born” to do and had a set career path. Others took some time to figure it out, or had a specific discipline in mind. 

But at the end of the day, many of us really didn’t know what we wanted to do or be when we “grew up,” did we? Or at least, we didn’t all end up ballerinas and firefighters! 

There’s something to the thought process we had as children, though. We decided who we wanted to be, and in many instances, we engulfed ourselves in ballet or dressed up as a firefighter for years. We created our paths, even if we moved on from those paths later in childhood.

Why can’t we do the same now that we’re adults? Well, I challenge you to think that it’s exactly what we CAN do. In fact, I’ve done it myself. To hopefully inspire you or at least help you start thinking of your career (and its possibilities) in a new way, here are some lessons I’ve learned throughout my career journey. 

Your experience doesn’t necessarily define your career.

File me under the “wouldn’t have fathomed how my career would end up” category! Prior to joining the Matlen Silver team, I was in property management here in Charlotte. 

If you don’t know much about property management, I’ll give you an insider’s perspective. You’re on call 24 hours a day, constantly handling issues between neighbors or enforcing HOAs and COAs. It can be a very negative, draining career. 

I didn’t know what I wanted to do next, but I was open to anything that was more productive and positive. That’s when a friend mentioned the staffing industry. He had been placed by Matlen Silver, and based on his positive experience with Matlen, he thought my skills would translate well into a staffing career. 

I knew NOTHING about IT and NOTHING about staffing — truth be told, I didn’t even know this industry existed! 

But, I trusted my friend and took his advice. This was way back in 2013. Looking back, I’d say that was a pretty good hunch from my friend!

At the time, Matlen had a “future stars” program that encouraged career changers to explore a role in IT staffing. The timing was perfect. While I interviewed at other firms, I could feel the difference here at Matlen. When they offered me a recruiting job, I eagerly accepted.

Start with success.

I had zero plan when I first started as a recruiter. As I mentioned, I knew nothing about IT and nothing about staffing — talk about a clean slate! But, I knew that I was going to be successful, and that I would put in whatever work it took to be successful in my new career.

When you start with a goal of doing your best and being successful, you can work backwards to plan what it will take to get there. Build small habits that, in time, lead to big results. 

The habits I built in my first three months at Matlen are still very much the foundation of my approach today. 

It was after those first few months of really putting my nose to the grindstone and building those habits that my work started to really pay off. I recognized that for the first time, my earnings were directly impacted by the work I put in. It was a revelation! 

Look beyond what’s right in front you.

As I mentioned, I was an average recruiter after those first 3 to 6 months. I came in on time, did a good job, and got okay results. I could have sat back and felt good enough about that to stagnate. 

But, although I had no idea where it would lead and had zero notion of a “path” for my career, I realized that I could do more, and better. So, I reached out to another recruiter who had just moved into sales. I offered to be her go-to recruiter, and promised that I’d be equally as devoted to her success as my own. 

Broaching that partnership took my career to another level. And there’s a lesson here that I realize now is so important: The culture here at Matlen made it possible for me to approach this person and make that offer. She trusted and knew that I would stand by my word. And I knew that if she was open to it, we’d both work hard for the company, and for each other. 

From there, I decided to step up my game at every point. I didn’t want to be “average,” I wanted to be great. So I worked later two days a week to reach talent who were unavailable from 9 to 5. I came in one Saturday a month for the same reason. I was meticulous about organization to maximize my time and efficiency. 

And it paid off. In fact, it also caught the attention of our CEO, who literally followed me around Charlotte, trying to convince me that I was a fit for sales. We sat down and I heard him out over coffee one day, intrigued. 

I wanted more, even if I didn’t have a firm game plan in place. Remember — I started with “success” and kept moving forward. When our CEO notified me that I couldn’t be promoted any higher without moving into sales first, that sealed it for me.

I was now a salesperson. 

Keep the big picture in mind. 

Your big picture may not be fleshed out, and that’s okay. But keep the big picture of your company in mind. I realize that this relies heavily on you being part of an organization that supports and encourages your growth, and is dedicated to helping you create your own career path. 

And I also realize how lucky I am to have that support here at Matlen Silver!

But, once you find the right organization and put these lessons into action, that’s where the magic happens. After meeting with our CEO, I had a more clear notion of the big picture, and how I fit into that picture, at Matlen than ever before.

In my new sales role, I became involved with more branches, gaining exposure and experience across the company. Matlen Silver was growing, and I wanted to be at the heart of it. That’s why after a team meeting where our CEO announced plans to split the company into two distinct regions, I immediately followed up with him to express my desire to lead one of those regions. 

He gave me a list of 10 things to accomplish before he would consider me for the job. My guess? He figured it would take me at least a month to finish them.

I went back a week latter, with all of them completed. 

On his word, he gave me the job!

Be willing to lean on and listen to others.

As I mentioned, my ability to team up with colleagues was essential to my earliest growth. Open leadership that saw potential and encouraged my growth was a huge factor. And mentors big and small throughout my journey (and to this day) continue to help me grow and define my path.

I don’t know where my career path will lead next. But I know that in the right organization and with the right work ethic, I know that I can continue moving forward and upward. 

Is your organization supporting you and helping you forge your own career path? Or are you feeling stuck? We are always looking for eager professionals to join our team. To check out current opportunities here at Matlen, visit our Careers page