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What’s the best career advice you have ever received?

Career advice is important when developing your own career goals. You may find it overwhelming to receive an abundance of information from your parents, mentor, peers, managers, or leaders. Some advice will be spot on and others may not be relevant.

I’ve questioned professionals to provide information about career advice that they wish they had before embarking on their career. As you read the following, think about how you can incorporate the information into your own career journey.

  1. Remember when you are interviewing, very often you are interviewing with someone who is going to be working with you, above you, or near you. There may be any number of questions, but one of the base human instincts would still apply from the interviewer’s point of view: “Do I want to work with this person?” The interviewer might know that the person they are hiring is going to be working with them. Do they find this person amicable? Is this someone I could eat lunch with? Is this person going to be fun to work with? Are they going to be effective, or will I have to come behind them to fix mistakes? None of these questions will be verbalized, but they are all important because they are probably what is floating through your interviewer’s mind subconsciously. Be someone people feel like will be good to work with, and remember that your interviewer is a person too!
  2. Make the role your own. Although jobs/roles normally come with a list of responsibilities and/or tasks, that does not necessarily mean that is the limit to your opportunities. I was lucky to have many managers who encouraged me to grow and look for those opportunities.
  3. In the old days we used to joke that the last item on a list of responsibilities is “other duties as assigned”. That is your sweet spot, create opportunities that can benefit your team, your department, your organization. Remember that no task is too small or too unimportant for you to undertake – just look to do it the best you can, better than anyone else can.
  4. You need to be able to adapt to new working conditions. Get more computer training or Excel training or whatever it is you need to do outside of work if necessary. Keep an eye out for what is coming on the horizon for the job that you are in. Read trade journals, blogs that relate to your work, etc. and keep a heads up about what is coming down the road. Don’t expect to always be in the position you are in and train for the position you want to be in. Do not get complacent.
  5. I have heard from multiple mentors to never stop networking and meeting people in or around your team! Having strong relationships is so important in one’s career, and it helps with teamwork and collaboration down the line. I try to build my network with smart, driven individuals and then I can tap them on the shoulder as a resource when needed.
  6. A former manager of mine used to say “Stay curious in order to find your opportunities.” The gist of it is that it’s crucial to continuously innovate and bring new ideas to the table. It helps you evolve the role (which keeps you passionate and engaged), and enhance your influence/personal brand in the company. Finding opportunities to make something for the better can also help your own career development, and encourage you to learn new things!
  7. The first Director I was under when I started my career gave me some great advice. She encouraged me to learn something new each month, even if it’s just one new thing. Make it a point to push yourself to continuously learn new things, educate yourself and be flexible in your career. That was great advice that I took to heart! I am quick to volunteer for new projects that expand my skill-set and my learning.
  8. I’ve always felt volunteering for something that interests you or going out of your way to help someone usually pays off in the end. The more activities you are involved in the more inclined leadership is to look elsewhere if that time comes to RIF people. Doing whatever you need to to adapt to situations that aren’t ideal but still get the job done is what matters. When I was in the military as a nurse we would run out of IV Poles. Something pretty simple until you need one. We had a very old hospital built in the 1920’s or 40’s at the time and we had remodeled overhead sprinklers in the rooms. When I needed to I would grab a coat hanger and wrap it around the sprinkler pipe and use that to hang blood or fluids (this was before pumps were the norm pretty much). It wasn’t pretty but it worked.
  9. Take advantage of all the web-ex seminar, chat rooms if allowed to during business hours and complete courses. Depending on department, managers may be able to assist, others do not have connections or there is no room for growth within the immediate department
  10. Thus far, the best career advice has been…… Every meeting, large or small with managers, directors, clients is an interview so dress for success, act professionally because you never know what magical career change could be in your future from the contacts you make. I agree. If you have a video interview, dress for it by wearing a nice shirt/top and suit jacket.
  11. The very best career advice I ever received was from my daddy. “No matter what you are doing, where work is concerned, always approach it with a couple of things: 1) Respect- you were selected to do a job because someone believed in you. Don’t ever let them down. 2) Gratefulness- you get to wake up and do the job you selected. 3) Joy- do your job with all your heart. It will always show if you do, or if you don’t.
  12. One of my favorite boss’s told me that when I was looking at potential career opportunities, I should always consider 3 things. (1) Who I work for (2) Who I work with (3) The work I be doing. If all those fall in line with where I want to see myself going then it’s a good fit. Over the years, that has proven true. I’ve had positions where even when only one of these is off, it disrupts my workflow and I’m stunted. I may love my boss and my team but if I’m not fully vested in my work or even happy doing it, I end up either stagnant or despondent. If I love my boss and I love what I do but my team is difficult for me to work with, same thing. Of course there are other things to take into consideration i.e. I never stop networking or building new relationships, I get myself out there even when it isn’t comfortable, I always push myself to go outside my comfort zone, etc. But when you boil it all down, these 3 reflecting questions have never failed me in being successful and making the right move!
  13. “You are in charge of your own career, Take back the control!”
  14. When I first became a Manager, so many years ago, my boss and my dad gave me two pieces of advice that I still hold as some of the most important advice I’ve ever received: You were hired to do a job, not punch a clock (moving from an hourly to exempt position). If it’s the end of your day, and the necessary work for the day is done, you get to go home, if it’s not, then you get to stay until it is done.
  15. As a manager, when things are going well, “we” (i.e. the team) did a great job. When things are not going so well, then “I” as the manager, am responsible. Doesn’t mean that as a manager we don’t coach and counsel and deal with the problem, but I am ultimately responsible for the results of my team.
  16. Over the last 35+ years, I have used these two pieces of advice constantly, and also give those same pieces of advice to my team as they move into positions of more responsibility, etc. “I could not explore new territories on my own until I stopped resisting blindness and learned to use the cane for travel.” Trusting in the process and in yourself.
  17. In a company of this size, a lot of your overall fate (for better or for worse) will hinge on your ability to excel within the structures and rules you’re assigned within, and by excel, I don’t just mean at your job proper, but both the “extra” labor items that help you stand out and (perhaps more importantly) the social/extracurricular items that help you build an identity in your department. I think of the individuals who received consistent pushes and promotions and I cannot think of one who did not either push the envelope in terms of innovation and development or who didn’t have strong relationships with local leadership.
  18. It is very important to keep a keen eye on the culture and life experience within your current department. Ultimately, almost any organization will reward or punish adherence or avoidance (respectively) to the culture established. I would never be the one who says you have to conform to a particular culture to succeed, but I would say that if you find that the culture you’re in doesn’t align to what you believe, it’s going to be a lot more difficult to enact your view of change.
  19. I’ve found that in terms of the five “W’s”, who is by far the most important one to work on for workplace success. The rest (what, when, where, why) can all change and be amended over time, but the ability to build relationships is often very limited for specific people and you NEVER know which people you will end up working with and growing with. Work with as many people as you can and find your circles. Further, the “who” is the one thing that a third party can’t really force change upon.
  20. This one may be a little less altruistic but always assume that everyone’s #1 is him or herself. This should include yourself. This doesn’t mean people are inherently selfish or against you but that when considering what anyone is doing, they all have their own lives, worries, and dreams. Doing what you can to help those people fix their problems can do you a lot of good.
  21. All of this said, there’s no guarantees of life’s fairness, most of us will see better people leave before us or be outlasted by people we didn’t feel were as strong, so be willing to be flexible and keep your mind open.

Hopefully, you’ve learned some new tips for your career. Now it is your turn. What’s the best career advice you have ever received?