Career Chemistry: Best Jobs for Enterprising People
Would you rather sell it than analyze it? More interested in the big picture than the details? Such "enterprising" types of people tend to be competitive and aggressive—and they're often behind the success of thriving businesses. As part of our guide to career chemistry,these are our top career picks for go-getters who feel more at home leading a group or project than being a rank-and-file team member:
Manager/executive. The stereotype of the boss is changing: Today's successful manager is generally more of a facilitator than an autocrat. Yes, managers can unilaterally hire, fire, and evaluate employees, but much of the job entails running meetings, guiding teams, building consensus, collaboratively setting policy, and troubleshooting. Happy managers enjoy that process, and would rather plan, inspire, and guide than crank out reams of paperwork.
Over the coming decade, the job market is likely to be most robust in computer systems, health services, financial management, and many areas of government. Training managers, who figure out what kind of instruction employees need and who should conduct it, tend to be unusually happy across a wide range of fields.
More info:American Management Association. About.com's management portal. "The World's Shortest Management Course," a section of Cool Careers for Dummies
Financial manager/officer. Money is the lifeblood of every business, and the stewards of that vital resource are treasurers, controllers, senior accountants, and other financial managers. These professionals are no mere bean counters—they're often on the leadership team that decides where the company should spend its money. One frustration: With recent accounting scandals at big companies, financial officers spend an increasing amount of time on government-mandated paperwork, such as that required by the Sarbanes-Oxley regulations. But these careers are often quite rewarding, and since this role is critical and requires high-level quantitative skills that aren't easily acquired, pay is often excellent.
More info: Financial Management Association
Sales manager. A few salespeople need no management—they have a knack for selling virtually anything, with good business ethics to boot. But most salespeople need a bit more shepherding. Enter the sales manager, who hires, trains, cheerleads, and when necessary, whips the sales force into shape. Day-to-day duties include watching the salespeople in action and offering feedback, and maybe even figuring out how to lead a former high-flier back to cruising altitude.
More info: Proactive Sales Management by William Skip Miller; American Management Association. About.com's management portal
Sales representative. Every product needs somebody to sell it, and sales reps in certain specialties, such as medical, electronic, and mechanical equipment, can earn good pay. But not just anybody can sell. A good salesperson makes a warm first impression, listens more than he or she talks, and responds wisely. Rejection comes with the turf, so you have to be resilient. And please be ethical, even though sleaziness is often tolerated by bosses and even customers. Cheaters do sometimes win in the sales game but lose in the game of life.
More info: The Little Red Book of Sales Answers by Jeffrey Gitomer
Venture capitalist. Behind this mystical term lies a simple concept: You look for new businesses to invest in and even guide. These financiers raise money by convincing wealthy individuals, banks, pension funds, and other fat cats that they'll reap a fine return by investing in the companies the venture capital firm selects. Successful VCs can get rich and have a grand time scouting out companies and guiding their growth, but working at an established firm typically requires heady credentials like a molecular biology degree from Harvard and an M.B.A. from Stanford. What if you're a mere mortal? You might try being a self-employed VC, often referred to as an angel investor. If you try that, at least when starting out, it's wise to play with other people's money. How to get it? When you find that "can't-miss" start-up, invite a collection of wealthy investors to a dog and pony show—then make sure the lure is irresistible.
More info: National Venture Capital Association; Done Deals by Udayan Gupta; Leading Deal Makers by Inside the Minds (Editors); The VC Way: Investment Secrets from the Wizards of Venture Capital by Jeffrey Zygmont