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Looking for a New Career? Ask Lots of Questions about Yourself

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By David E. Hubler
Contributor, Online Career Tips

It’s getting close to commencement season. For many young graduates – along with the joy of finally achieving that long-sought degree – there comes the realization, “What do I do now?” That sentiment often applies to job seekers of all ages.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard recently came from Warren Buffett, the financial guru. According to The Muse, a career advice website, someone in the audience at a shareholders’ meeting a few years ago asked Buffett what he would do if he had to start all over. The questioner probably wanted Buffett’s answer to give him the key to financial success.

Buffett’s Advice: Start Asking Questions

Instead, Buffett said his advice would be to start asking questions. “You can really learn a lot just by asking — that sounds like a Yogi Berra quote or something — but it is literally true,” he said.

Other Professionals Also Advise Asking Career-Relevant Questions

Many new graduates believe their diploma is all they need to land that great job. Likewise, the seasoned pro who wants to make a career move upward thinks he or she has all the answers.

Muse CEO Kathryn Minshew says, “Professional development is no longer linear, and trust that with hard work and a dedication to figuring out what you want to do with your life, you, too, will be OK!” A good part of the “figuring out what you want to do with your life” comes from asking questions.

“Spend some time really thinking about your career. Go out and warm up your network, check out new opportunities, and do some salary comparisons. You make smarter career decisions when you have real data,” advises Christie Mims, the founder of the Revolutionary Club, a Forbes Top 100 careers site.

“One of the easiest ways to get started is to talk to people. Why put so much pressure on you, when you can lean on others?” Mims says. “Have coffee, get inspired, learn through human interaction.”

The Best Career Questions Start with The ‘Five Ws and an H’ Formula

Journalists have a long-established formula for asking questions: Who, what, where, when, why and how? The “Five Ws and an H” formula can be adopted for use at any time, whether you’re looking for your first job after college or planning to move on to a new position:

  • Who am I, really?
  • What do I want to do?
  • Where should I look?
  • When should I begin my search?
  • Why do I want to change my life?
  • How can I change my goals?

Jessica Levin is the President at Seven Degrees Communications. She says that if she could talk to her 21-year-old self, she would make sure she asked a lot of questions and networked with people who were smarter and more experienced than she. Levin notes, “I would tell myself that there will be people who will try to hold me back, but even more who are willing to help me succeed.”

Asking questions to determine what you want in a career and self-reflection are two useful tools to help you identify your career goals. Success can begin with a simple question or two.

Get started on a degree program at American Public University.

About the Author

David E. Hubler brings a variety of government, journalism and teaching experience to his position as a Quality Assurance Editor at APUS. David’s professional background includes serving as a senior editor at CIA and the Voice of America. He has also been a managing editor for several business-to-business and business-to-government publishing companies. David has taught high school English in Connecticut and at Northern Virginia Community College. He has a master’s degree for Teachers of English from the University of New Hampshire and a B.A. in English from New York University. In March 2017, Rowman & Littlefield published the paperback edition of David’s latest book, “The Nats and the Grays, How Baseball in the Nation’s Capital Survived WWII and Changed the Game Forever.”

Susan Hoffman is a Managing Editor at Edge, whose articles have appeared in multiple publications. Susan is known for her expertise in blogging, social media, SEO, and content analytics, and she is also a book reviewer for Military History magazine. She has a B.A. cum laude in English from James Madison University and an undergraduate certificate in electronic commerce from American Public University.

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