Feeling lethargic about your career (or lack thereof)? Get inspired with Mrs Moneypenny’s Careers Advice for Ambitious Women, says Katie Byrne
The best thing about this book is that, with the right amount of effort, gumption and confidence, all of Mrs M’s advice is perfectly workable. You can get that dream job, and you can set up your own successful business – but it will take a lot of effort, motivation and dedication.
Mrs Moneypenny herself has had the kind of career that makes the starting-out graduate (such as, say, me) green with envy and admiration. A high-flying figure in banking, she was approached by the Financial Times to write a weekly column. Since then, she has had her own television show, set up her own business and gained a host of brilliant qualifications (MBA, anyone?)
What I liked best about this careers guide is that nothing is sugar-coated. As an ambitious, 21st century gal, I am keen to have a high-flying career. I am equally eager to have a family, perfect my scone-making (currently dire) and learn a third language. However, as Mrs Moneypenny stresses, it is practically impossible to work to achieve excellence in all of these areas at the same time. One at a time, they are perfectly doable. But juggled altogether, it is more than likely that my career will suffer, my scones will continue to burn and my hypothetical children will forget who I am.
I also loved that, unlike other advisory books, this was not about feeling, or emotion. You don’t need to ‘get in touch’ with yourself, or ‘find yourself’: you just need to face some plain, hard facts. If you are not willing to put in a hell of a lot of effort, you are never going to get anywhere. Mrs M writes in the same light-hearted, easy-to-digest tone that she uses in her FT columns, and reading the book is like being shaken awake from a work-related doze.
Whilst the book’s title is strictly aimed at the, ahem, fairer sex, I think the advice within its pages can easily be stretched to young men starting their careers. The majority of the book is the kind of common sense that can apply to anyone.
There are three main pieces of advice that jumped out at me when reading the book:
1) Network. Meet people, make the effort to get to know them and make even more of an effort to keep them on your radar (and you on theirs).
2) Self-PR. How do you want to be presented to the world? Make sure there is nothing on the Internet about you that presents you in a negative light (drunken FB profile pic? Delete.) And if there is something awful that you can’t manage to get rid of, just make sure there are lots of wonderful things as well. What comes up when you Google your name?
3) Qualifications and experience. These not only bounce off your C.V., but they also suggest that you have the required skills and motivation to excel further.
P.S. She also recommends that you learn to read the FT – it looks most impressive when carried under the arm, even if you have no idea what on earth is being said in its pages.
Mrs Moneypenny’s Careers Advice for Ambitious Women by Mrs Moneypenny and Heather McGregor. Available on Amazon for £9.98.