10 of Best TEDTalks for Career Development

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TEDTalks are probably one of the most underrated, but essential resources to make use of when it comes to your career development. 

Informative, well-delivered and just plain interesting, they can be a great way to gain a new perspective on your professional growth and

There’s a lot of potential videos out there to choose from, covering basically every area, and their content is particularly strong when it comes to careers. We’ve selected a few of our favourites for you to watch. 

Here are 10 of the Best TEDTalks to listen to if you’re looking for career development advice. 

1. The Best Career Path Isn’t Always a Straight Line

Watch The Best Career Path Isn't Always a Straight Line

From a young age, we’re taught that a good career path is one that follows a logical, straight progression. What if that logic was flawed, limited and obsolete, though?

Far from being a straight ladder that has a clear way up and a clear way down, career development consultants Sarah Ellis and Helen Tupper think that the best career path is one that’s ‘squiggly’: one that follows a twisting path that’s more reflective of reality. 

Ellis and Tupper highlight the fact that the idea of the straight career ladder dates from over 100 years ago and that the concept is old-fashioned now. They argue that it’s not really fit for the demands of the 21st century where our careers can take us in many winding directions that have the possibility of teaching us many different things. To Ellis and Tupper, squiggly careers highlight the fact that everybody is a learner and everybody is a teacher. 

Perfect for: People who feel stuck on a rung in the career ladder

2. The Secrets of People Who Love Their Jobs

Watch The Secrets of People Who Love Their Jobs

Shane Lopez is a psychologist so he knows a thing or two about the way that our minds work. To him worthy jobs – those that make us feel happy and fulfilled – are made by people and they’re not found. 

In fact, he argues that jobs which people really love are rare to find in the wild. Lopez argues that these jobs are actually crafted by the people that do them, usually from roles that aren’t that particularly glamorous to begin with. 

To Lopez, loving your job is an antidote to human suffering, so it’s something that we all deserve to experience. In the TEDTalk he shares five strategies that he believes will help you turn a job that you tolerate into one that you will love.

Perfect for: People who are bored of their current role but don’t want to leave their position

3. Why Specializing Early Doesn’t Always Mean Career Success

Watch Why Specializing Early Doesn't Always Mean Career Success

Using the examples of two of the world’s most famous sportspeople, Tiger Woods and Roger Feder, journalist David Epstein explores the phenomenon of career specialisation and whether or not specialising early can increase your chances of success. 

To Epstein, data suggests that the conventional ‘10,000 hours rule’ (the idea that you have to practice something for at least 10,000 focused hours to get good at it) is wrong. Instead, he believes that those who specalise later in life amass more knowledge and skills that can be applied to a wide-range of settings. In short, late bloomers are perfectly suited to the demands of the modern workplace, where you need to remain adaptable and flexible.

Perfect for: People questioning their specialisation

A crowd watching a lecture

4. Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career

Watch Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career

Larry Smith is the anti-hero of the ‘just-follow-your-interests-and-you’ll-find-a-good-career’ crowd. To Smith, interests are not good enough when it comes to picking a career. Larry insists that the main reason why so many people feel like they are not having a great career is because they don’t have an absolute passion for a subject.

Smith’s engaging, hilarious and thought-provoking lecture explores the differences between the merely ‘adequate’ career and the truly ‘great’ career. 

You shouldn’t settle for following your interest. You should be following your passion.

In this on-the-nose talk, he explores the various reasons we come up that stop us from pursuing objectives that could improve our career paths. 

This talk features one of the most hilariously-cutting but utterly true put-downs of a common excuse given for not pursuing your dream job that you’re likely to hear spoken in a public lecture!

Perfect for: People who need the motivation to pursue their passions

5. 2 Questions to Uncover Your Passion–  And Turn It Into a Career

Watch 2 Questions to Uncover Your Passion–  And Turn It Into a Career 

Noeline Kirabo quit her well-paying, comfortable job and embarked on a personal mission to find a role that really spoke to her passions. In this inspirational TEDTalk, she reflects on her own journey in Uganda, helping others find careers they love.

She asks job seekers, or those questioning their current career path, to consider what brings them joy and fulfillment and to try and weave this feeling into our daily lives.

Perfect for: People who are questioning their current career and wanting to find a new one

6. How to Find Work You Love

Watch How to Find Work You Love 

Scott Dinsmore has clocked up a lot of time devoted to his quest to find out why some people love their jobs more than others. He cites studies by Deloitte that have found around 80% of people don’t actually like their jobs as one of the statistics that has consistently fascinated him.  

From his conversations with people who do careers they love – and those that don’t – Dinsmore feel that he has stumbled on a formula to help you find the type of work that you love. First of all you need to learn about yourself and discover your strengths – the unique things that you’re particularly good at. Secondly, you need to work out what motivates your decision-making and decide the values that affect how you choose to prioritise particular things. 

When we put all of these things together we can gain a better understanding of what we consider success to be, helping us find work that we truly love. 

Perfect for: People confused about their career direction

A young crowd watching a speech

7. How to Know If It's Time to Change Careers

How to Know If It's Time to Change Careers

Chieh Huang has had a lot of jobs over the past 15 years. From working as an attorney, video game designer and even toilet paper salesman. For Huang, getting a good career is about finding the intersection between finding what you love to do and what you’re good at doing  – something that he thinks is harder than it sounds. 

To Huang, it’s natural to want to change careers sometimes: but you have to be sure of the strength of your reasons for wanting to do so before you jump ship completely. In this short lecture (perfect for a commute), he explores some of the key indicators and tips for how to manage the process smoothly. 

Perfect for: People who are ready to jump into a completely new career

8.The Habit That Could Improve Your Career

The Habit That Could Improve Your Career

Paul Catchlove has had a diverse range of roles in his varied career: from Catholic priest through to opera singer and management consultant. Despite the difference of the roles that he’s had, there’s been one constant thread that’s linked all of them together for him: his practice of reflection. 

Catchlove sees reflection as an integral part of human growth and a career path, helping you examine your life without judgment, but with a critical view, to help improve it.   

Perfect for: Those in a career they love that they want to improve

9. How to Get Back to Work After a Career Break

How to Get Back to Work After a Career Break

Carol Fishman Cohen spent 11 years out of the workforce and learned a lot from trying to get back into a career. She’s now a professional career reentry expert, helping other people relaunch their careers. 

Fishman Cohen believes that career relaunchers have incredible advantages over other types of candidates for employers: from exceptional experience and time-honed skills through to enthusiasm and motivation. But they have to demonstrate to employers where they can add the most value to an organisation. In this lecture, Fishman Cohen explores how intern-like experience programmes could be a useful entry point into the workplace for relaunchers.

Perfect for: People aiming to get back into a career after a break

10. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Angela Lee Duckworth left a demanding management consulting job when she was 27 years old for an even more demanding job: teaching maths. 

It was this experience that showed her that high IQ doesn’t necessarily predict success and it inspired her to kickstart a career in finding out what makes people succeed at something. 

The key finding that Duckworth discovered is that grit – something she defines as determination comprised of passion, perseverance and stamina – has much more of an influence over whether or not someone achieves success than other factors. 

Perfect for: People feeling burnt out and in need of some inspiration

Build your career, one TEDTalk at a time

TEDTalks are a fantastic resource for improving your knowledge and helping you to develop your career. We hope that this article has given you a few more TEDTalks to check out. Happy viewing!

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