How to Win in Business

Google exec shares 2 visual tricks for figuring out what to do with your life

Peter Roper became an executive at Google in part by consistently using two visual tricks to map out his career.

The first was to create a list of companies where he'd love to work in the future. The second was to jot down skills he wanted to develop.

Roper, who spoke with CNBC at the Millennial 20/20 conference, held several jobs in advertising, sales and technology — including director of ad revenue strategy for music start-up Songza, which Google later acquired.

While serendipity played a role in Roper's journey to the tech giant's Mountain View headquarters, his previous jobs and unique set of skills helped him stay there.

If you're looking to make your own luck the way Roper did, check out two visual strategies that set him on the fast-track to success:

Mary Stevens/CNBC

1. Make a list of companies you'd love to work for

Get a piece of paper and jot down companies that pique your interest, he suggests.

"If you want to focus your energy and narrow your [job] search," he says, "create a list of companies that you're interested in."

Visualizing what type of companies you're drawn to will help you focus your search. Research other companies similar to the ones on your list for even more options.

After you develop this list, find out who to email.

"Personally reach out to the hiring manager or person in charge of your department there," he says.

It will leave a good impression on the hiring manager, the executive says, because it shows you took extra time to find their contact information.

Mary Stevens/CNBC

2. Write down the skills you'd like to develop

On a separate piece of paper, jot down the answer to a question Roper asks himself: "What skill set can I develop to enhance my career?"

Writing this list of skills will help you figure out what type of job you should apply for.

"You don't have to have your career perfectly mapped out," Roper says, "but thinking of it in terms of chunks of expertise and specialty that you'd like to obtain along the way is a great way to make sure that your moves are building on each other."

Roper's strategy echoes what former Google career coach Jenny Blake suggests.

According to Blake, "A career is not a ladder anymore," but a set of skills you acquire that help you advance.

Check out how to create a "mind map" for your career and other areas of your life.