How to Build a Career Worth Having

More than 100 job seekers flocked to CommonBond's office in New York City Tuesday night for a panel discussion on "How to Build a Career Worth Having."

The panel featured experts on finding work with meaning and purpose. They were Inspiring Capital CEO and Founder Nell Derick Debevoise , ReWork COO and Co-Founder Abe Taleb, Incandescent Venture Associate Jocelyn Malan and CommonBond Vice President of Marketing Phil DeGisi. The panel was moderated by ReWork CEO and Co-Founder Evan Walden.

Attendees were interested in learning about ways to identify careers that are meaningful and determine how to transition to the role. DeGisi summed up the challenge many job seekers face: "You may not know you want something that is meaningful and makes an impact until you are in a role that doesn't."

Beyond that, four key themes were raised by the panelists, all of which they agreed were worth sharing with anyone looking to make a career transition:

1. Debevoise, who helps professionals find meaningful careers, said she sees four traits in great job applicants looking to work for social enterprises:

  • They are builders. That means they have a history of executing their initiatives and ideas.
  • They have an informed commitment to social impact. It's an understanding of what social change means. "It's not easy. It's not fast. It's not glamorous. It's painful. It's a struggle. It's hard," she said.
  • They have superb professional capabilities and standards. They do outstanding work and don't need to be micromanaged.
  • They must pass the "airport test." Would you be OK spending 12 hours with them if you were stuck at the airport?

Debevoise also recommended that job seekers "productize" themselves. It's advice she received from Charlie O'Donnell, a partner at Brooklyn Bridge Ventures. For example, instead of just pitching yourself as a "senior sales director," which can sound expensive and vague to an employer, tell them you're good at "working with a junior sales team, building systems and a sales department," Debevoise said.

2. Remember that an excellent career is a journey, not a destination. "Job seeking is not binary. Always be looking," said ReWork's Taleb. Even little things, like keeping your LinkedIn page updated, can help you land a better job, he said.

3. But networking is still king of the job hunt. DeGisi pointed out that many of the recent hires to CommonBond were referred by other team members. "We want referrals. It's fastest, it's cheapest and it's the most vetted way to hire," he said. "This is how a connected economy works." (We're hiring!)

4. Job seekers should be methodical when choosing an employer, recommended Malan, who works on investing, design, development and health care projects at Incandescent. "Form your own opinions and write it down," she said.

Malan has used a spreadsheet to keep tabs on prospective employers: In the first column, she makes a list of the companies she follows. In the second column, she records the recent moves those companies have made in the past six months. In the third column, she tracks industry news. And finally, in the fourth column, she forms her three main takeaways for each company.

"Know your industry and people will respect the amount of time and effort you put in," Malan said.

The "How to Build a Career Worth Having" panel is part of the many events sponsored by CommonBond. We are more than a lender. We are a community that connects you to experiences, resources and relationships that help you get to where you want to go.