The best career advice I ever received? “Stop moaning, and do something about it!”
Though it’s served me well, at the time I remember thinking, “that’s a bit harsh!” I’d just finished uni, full of optimism about the dream job that was guaranteed to be awaiting me.
But, I was soon cowed by the growing realization of just how competitive the jobs market was. Particularly for entry-level graduates like me. All my confidence and bravado soon began to fade, as rejection followed rejection.
Being Cruel to Be Kind!
So I turned to my mom — surely she’d lend a sympathetic ear. Instead, she told me to pick myself up, dust myself down, and keep going.
My first thought was that she didn’t understand me or my situation at all (as we so often think of our moms when we’re young). But then, the more I thought about her advice… really, what other option did I have?
Good Career Advice Sticks
So I followed her advice. I got on with it. And it really has served me well. I did end up getting a role in the field I wanted. Although I definitely took a few detours before getting there.
Also, it’s advice that I’ve found useful outside of work. Ultimately, if something’s bothering me, I’m not afraid to change it. If something I’m doing feels wrong, then I won’t do it. Or, I’ll find an alternative that makes me feel happier.
In fact, as I write this, I realize just how much that piece of advice from such a long time ago has really shaped the choices I’ve made and the routes I’ve chosen to take. And I think that’s because advice — when it’s really good — has a way of sticking with you. Particularly when you find yourself backed into a corner or at a turning point in your life.
Your Best Career Advice
Here at Mind Tools, we’re always open to advice. We wanted to know more about what great recommendations you’ve received, that have helped you in your careers.
So we threw the question out to both our forum users and our friends and followers on social media. Here’s a selection of the best nuggets of wisdom that you decided to share with us:
Think Before You Act
Forum user april23 revealed how her colleague’s recommendation to think before you act has stuck with her over time. She said, “The best career advice I ever received was to keep my mouth shut and my eyes open. What the person meant was that you should think before you speak, but you should always be ready to listen, observe and learn. His advice has served me well over many years.”
Another of our forum users, zuni, said that advice to “choose your battles carefully” has proved invaluable for building and maintaining relationships.
She added, “Not every issue is a ‘hill you want to die on.’ I was given this advice quite early on in my career from a mentor who knew that I had a tendency to dig my heels in when involved in certain situations. As I advanced in my career, my mentor’s advice became even more important.
“I still get the urge to dig in every now and again. When I feel it coming on I ask myself the following questions, ‘Is it really worth it for me to win this issue? What are the risks to me and to others? What do I gain to lose if I dig in?’ If I answer these questions truthfully, I prevent myself from damaging relationships.”
Similarly, Twitter user Govind Sharma highlighted the importance of the words we use, and how they can impact those around us. He said, “[If] you are not gifted with a soft vocabulary, please be careful when you write an email.”
Look Beyond Your Table
Another of our forum users, adk8258 explained how “thinking outside the box” or in his own words, “Looking beyond your table,” has helped him to excel in his career.
He said, “This was very recently given by my manager… If we only keep doing what we have been doing, we shall never realize new challenges and failures.
“Whenever you are in the office, how about looking at open inquiries and asking [your colleagues if they need help] to close the deal. Such type of extra efforts help to build rapport with internal and external customers.”
Forum member S_Freeman stressed the importance of authenticity, saying, “The best advice I ever received is to be my authentic self. This is very important since it allows you to connect with persons on a real and authentic level.
“Even if you are the most talented and have all the career and management skills in communicating, you are projecting a shadow of who you truly are.”
Know How to Market Yourself
Our final piece of advice came from forum user cajakelly01, who highlighted that, no matter how skilled you are, if you don’t “shout it from the rooftops” no one is going to know.
As they explained, “The best advice I ever received was ‘learn how to market yourself.’
“I can be very shy in a group, but I was highly requested to manage store openings. A district manager who said he’d never heard of me until I opened his store said ‘great work is its own reward,’ but to grow my career I needed to publicize my skills. He gave me some steps to start with and his advice was invaluable.”
Do you have a brilliant piece of advice that has served you well in your career? If so, share it was us by adding a comment, below!