There are lessons to be learned from every industry, not all of them are good. In general, every company has something positive to offer. Every business you have ever heard of could have their own chapter in a business school textbook. At some point, every industry has been a shining example of what to do, and a perfect example of what not to do. Some companies are loved, some tolerated, and some are hated with a purple passion. When we zoom out to the level of industries, few are beloved by the masses.
While it is easy to vilify certain industries, it is important to remember that industries are made up of companies, and companies are made up of people. The industry you hate the most has some of the same characteristics you have as an individual pursuing your career. Corporations want to make more money. You want to make more money. Corporations strive to eliminate competition. You are constantly trying to out-compete your peers for attention and promotions. Corporations are always seeking an advantage. You are always seeking a way to gain a career advantage. So rather than vilifying corporations and industries, try learning from them. Here are a few things the auto industry can teach someone looking to give their career a new life:
Revisit Old Ideas
The auto industry has come a long way since the documentary was made that asked the question, who killed the electric car. What many might not realize is that the electric car is not a new idea. Rather, it is a renewed idea. Decades earlier, it was not accepted by the industry. The first time around, it lived a short life and died a bad death.
Tesla came out of nowhere and breathed new life into that idea. More than that, Tesla proved that the market was ready for that idea. It was juiced by rapidly advancing battery tech, longer range, and easy to find electric car charging stations. There are very few excuses for a new car shopper to buy anything else. Electric vehicles have at least earned a second look.
This will be true for a lot of career-boosting ideas you had years ago. They were not necessarily bad ideas. They might have simply been early. Smart people come up with new ideas. Brilliant people can breathe new life into old ideas.
These days automobiles are more computer than mechanical object. When Apple’s CarPlay was released, a $200,000 Ferrari became the world’s most expensive iPhone accessory. The auto industry has embraced technology in a big way. Vehicles are often sold based on their consumer-facing tech stack. It used to be all about the cup holders. Now, it is about the wireless charging stations for smartphones. In some models, the smartphone can be used as the key.
At one point, the auto industry tried to hold the line against the encroachment of consumer technology. But they soon realized they were fighting against the inevitable. They were also fighting against their customers. That is never a winning position. You can boost your career by learning the same lessons. The proper use of technology can boost your personal brand and make you a more attractive candidate for hire by showing how well you keep up with the times.
Justify a Higher Price
When it comes to price, a race to the bottom is bad for everyone. A new car used to run about $7,000. Today, most of the ones you would want are north of $30,000. This increase happened over a relatively short period of time. What the industry had to do was justify the higher price with better vehicles.
If you can show the value of what you are offering, people will pay your asking price. This is the same for individuals applying for jobs. You do yourself a disservice by racing to the bottom and making the lowest offer. This is a mistake. Employers will be happy to pay you more money if they believe you offer more of what they need. Give them a reason to want to pay you more than the last person who applied. This is a lesson that can be applied to any individual or company.
The auto industry has had many challenges. But they have been an excellent case study for revisiting old ideas and making them new again, embracing technology and using it for their advantage, and justifying higher prices by pushing value over a race to the bottom.