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Don't do what you love, do what someone will pay you to do: Advice for job-seekers

Aaron Task
Editor in Chief
Daily Ticker

In his new book The Bigs, Wall Street veteran and CRT Capital Group vice chair Ben Carpenter tells job seekers and young professionals how to choose a career, be a leader, manage their money and more.

Carpenter's advice includes a counterpoint to the conventional wisdom to "follow your passion," as embodied by the 2011 best-seller: Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow.

Instead, Carpenter advises young professional to think about what they have to offer potential employers: “Instead of asking yourself what you love to do, ask yourself what someone will be willing to hire you to do,” he writes.

Carpenter recommends younger workers should "focus on what they can do well versus what they want to do. You need to be focused in on how you can help a company succeed. That's why they're going to want to hire you; that's why they're going to want to promote you."

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Carpenter also pushes back against the growing movement in corporate America to encourage workers to "disconnect" from the office. Even on Wall Street, Goldman Sachs is telling junior bankers to take Saturdays off and restricting analysts from going to the office or logging in to company systems from 9 p.m. Fridays to 9 a.m. Sunday. Separately, J.P. Morgan (JPM) and Bank of America (BAC) are respectively giving junior bankers one "protected weekend" a month and telling junior employees to take off four weekend days per month.

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A growing body of academic work says disconnecting can help reduce burnout and lead to a more-productive workforce. But Carpenter's advice seems to run counter to those trends and includes the following:

  • Show up whether you're sick, you get a flat tire, you're hung over or if there a snowstorm
  • Be available at all hours: always respond to emails and phone calls as soon as you can, whether late at night, early in the morning, on vacation, weekends.
  • Don't take any days off from work for the first 6 months in a new job.
  • Schedule all personal appointments after business hours -- if your doctor doesn't offer late hours, get a new doctor.

"To me, the way particularly young people but really everybody should be approaching their job is to think like an entrepreneur," he says. "If you had a company and you were the sole employee, you'd get up everyday and go to to work. When you were at work you'd be thinking about 'what is it I need to do to make this company successful?' You wouldn't be thinking about 'how can I protect my time off?'"

As far as working on Wall Street, Carpenter admits it's not likely to be as glamorous or lucrative for new hires as it was in the prior generation. Still, he would absolutely advise young people drawn to the industry to pursue careers there, noting it's still likely to be more interesting and lucrative than most other industries.

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