“Steel is an alloy consisting mostly of iron, with a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.14% by weight (C: 110 – 10Fe), depending on grade,” according to Wikipedia’s definition.

Steel begins its life as iron ore. Once the ore is mined, oxygen is removed, and the ore is combined with a preferred chemical partner such as carbon.

This process is known as smelting.

I’m sharing this information with you because of the car that sat in front of me at the bank window recently.

The car itself wasn’t very old, and already the back end had been caved in by, either, a tailgater who wanted to find out how much of his own car would fit in the backseat of this one, or the inadvertent chance meeting with “tree-that-appears-out of-nowhere-while-I-was-in-reverse-looking-out-of-my-back-window-rearview-mirror-and-both-side-rearview-mirrors-all-at-the-same-time-an-aircraft-ground-traffic-flagman-was-guiding-me-out-of-my-driveway” tree. You know the one.

Anyway, it occurred to me that the steel that had been exposed by the paint and primer that had been chipped away during the accident, was already beginning to rust.

So, here you have a product that is used for everything from bed frames to space shuttle parts because of its strength and ability to be molded into so many different shapes and sizes. A material so vital and so flexible that without it I would have to say we would have few if any of the products that we take for granted on a daily basis. Bridges that take us across great chasms, automobiles that get us from point A to point B in relative comfort and speed, the machinery that protects our nation, the cutlery we use to feed ourselves, and the list goes on and on.

Yet, without a layer of primer, the air itself will destroy this amazing discovery. And of course a paint color of your choice aids in protecting as well as giving the steel-made product an appeal unmatched by, say, painted plastic.

How like our own career paths steel is.

First, our careers must be mined from the schools and institutes of learning we participate in. In those places, our career is but raw ore; it sits below the surface of our desires and aspirations waiting to be unearthed and brought to the surface through our dedication of searching the correct location.

Once it sees the light of day, we begin the process of purifying this treasure. Much in the same way ore must be rid of oxygen, we must rid ourselves of bad habits or thought processes that prevent us from achieving that which we so desperately dug for to begin with.

Now, fast forward a few years, you stand a newly minted whatever. Diploma in hand, you begin your job search. You are as strong as you will ever be, you think. You are a brand new sheet of steel, and the molding process is about to begin. What shape will you take as you go forward?

You enter your career field and this is where you really begin to take on your new shape. You’re expertly molded into what you have worked so hard to become. Once that shape is fully realized, a coat of primer is added protecting you against the harsh elements that can sometimes be found in the workplace.

A few more years and promotions and now the paint has been added making you attractive to not only your present employer, but those at other firms take notice as well.

This is the place where, like a great coat of wax, your resume adds just the right amount of gleam to showcase what you have become.

Your career is still that strong piece of steel, the primer added during your developmental stage is still holding and protecting, and the paint still looks good. But oh, what a wax job would do.

Wax, like a good resume has the ability to showcase, in brilliant vibrancy, that which already exists, but may be somewhat subdued by paint that may have lost some of its original sheen.

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8 Comments on “‘STEEL’ YOUR CAREER”

  1. I like the analogy. Even with a coat of wax, your steel can look dirty if not kept clean. Make sure all aspects of your reputation are monitored, namely your on-line reputation. The resume might look great, but the background information on you must reinforce the same story.
    For more information see:


    Stay strong as iron!

  2. careertrend Says:

    Hi Jeff!

    Our careers are indeed treasures founded on a very raw, organic foundation that can be shaped into a vibrant, gleaming result! The possibilities for career vibrancy are (almost) endless!

    Thank you for the nice connection to your great blog post today re: keeping your career reputation clean to reinforce your career story.


  3. It goes without saying that one wax job will not last a lifetime.

    Great article, Jacqui!

  4. Great analogy. Sometimes just as that steel in an automobile becomes twisted and re-shaped in a sudden crash, a career can be reshaped in times of downsizing, health or family emergencies. The career (like the steel) has the potential to be strong again – to be recycled, if you will. It can move forward with a new coat of paint and a shiny coat of wax but it takes time, patience and a creative eye to see that potential. Sometimes that recycled steel (career) is far more interesting than its originial form!

    • careertrend Says:

      Dorothy, I like your ‘twist’ on the steel analogy, particularly your conclusion that sometimes ‘recycled steel’ (career) has potential to be even more interesting than the original form.

      I hadn’t thought of it quite like that.

      Thank you for stopping by!


  5. Mary Wilson Says:

    I love this post because I worked in the steel industry for 17 years and saw all the processes mentioned in the article. It’s a great analogy–and one I never thought of using despite my industry experience. I’m reminded of the words from an old hymn: “Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.”

  6. careertrend Says:

    Hi Mary,
    How interesting that you share your 17-year steel-industry background! Thank you.

    LOVE the “Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me” quote. How apropos.

    Also, I’m a huge proponent of the VALUE of processes in attaining career / job-search goals. Woven together, small processes = BIG results.


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