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When it comes to career advice everyone seems to have something to say, right?! If you’re looking for the best career advice, I highly recommend checking out the source thoroughly before treating it as facts. After seeing tons of posts across the web offering the best career advice, I decided to create my own ultimate guide to the best career advice out there!
So who am I and why am I qualified to give you career advice?
I’m an Executive Career Coach and Leadership Coach! My career in management led me here. Over the last 15 years, I’ve interviewed, hired, mentored, and coached professionals around the world in a variety of industries and career levels. Also, as someone who job-hopped for promotions, worked in different industries, and climbed the ladder quickly, I’ve learned some amazing bits of advice that I want to share with you.
Before diving in, I want to share a couple of answers to questions I get very often.
When I reflect on the best career advice I’ve ever received, I’m sad to say that I feel like everything I’ve ever been told was pretty generic and way too common. I have been told that one specific piece of advice I’ve given my coaching clients has been pretty eye-opening for them.
So what is it?
When coaching clients come to me, they are often in a state of confusion and feeling defeated. The first question I ask them is, “Who did you build your career for?”
There is often a pause followed by a silence that lasts for a while. Once they get their thoughts together, they usually give me a list of people that doesn’t include… you guessed it… them!
One of the most common pieces of career advice I give people is, “build your career for you.” Often we are conditioned to build careers that will impress others, make our parents happy, or appease family members or friends. While it’s nice to listen to the opinions of others, it’s important to remember that the most important person you need to listen to is YOU! At the end of the day, you are the one who has to wake up each morning, clock in, and do the day-to-day work. You owe it to yourself to enjoy the work you do. In fact, you DESERVE to enjoy the work you do!
This is a loaded question. So loaded, that I recently wrote an article on how to figure out what to do with your life. You can check out the article here, 15 Questions to help you figure out what to do with your life.
To quickly summarize this, I will say finding your ideal career path is a journey that takes patience, persistence, and trial and error. I recommend developing a support system that can hold you accountable and help guide you through the process. You can start by finding a mentor or career coach. From there begin doing self-reflection to identify your natural skills, traits, and activities that bring you joy. If you feel unsure of what it is you enjoy, take time to dive into new experiences! For a more detailed explanation on tips and questions to ask yourself to find your ideal career path, check out this article.
Now for the reason you’re here, below are 50 of the best pieces of career advice I’ve learned, shared, and been told during my career.
1. Embrace Change
One thing in life that is guaranteed is change! Life is full of twists, turns, ups, and downs. In order to overcome obstacles, you need to become comfortable with change. I get it, change can feel scary, but it can also bring new opportunities for learning and skill development. The change also challenges us to step out of our comfort zones, fostering resilience and adaptability. Embracing change positions you to capitalize on the evolving landscape of the working world.
2. Be a Team Player
Be the person that people enjoy (and want to) working with! Collaboration is the foundation of a successful career. In a world that values teamwork, being a team player not only enhances the dynamics of the workplace but also broadens your horizons. Collaborative environments encourage the exchange of ideas, leading to innovative solutions and a stronger, supportive network. Yes, this means you will learn new skills and knowledge along the way!
3. Invest in Continuous Learning
You’re never too young or old to learn something new. Lifelong learning is the key to staying relevant and competitive. The world is in a constant state of evolution, especially in the digital age. Engaging in continuous learning through online courses and workshops ensures your skill set remains up-to-date. It’s an investment in yourself, enhancing your value in the job market. Do not be afraid to invest in yourself, it will ALWAYS pay off in the long run.
4. Define Your Values
Knowing your values shapes your career decisions and personal fulfillment. Having a clear understanding of your personal values is life-changing. It grounds you and serves as a compass, guiding your career choices toward what truly matters to you. When your values align with your work, you find deeper satisfaction and a sense of purpose in your professional endeavors.
5. Be intentional with networking
You know the phrase, “it’s not what you know, but who you know,” well it’s true! Building a strong network opens doors to endless possibilities. Networking is more than just exchanging business cards; it’s about cultivating meaningful relationships. A strong network provides a valuable support system, mentorship opportunities, the ability to meet new people, and access to new roles. Nurturing these connections can lead to unexpected career paths and collaborations.
If you’re an introvert like me and hate networking events, here are a couple of suggestions. Volunteer! Instead of just attending a networking event, volunteer to work at the registration table or be a greeter. Having a designated job forces you to interact and it requires people to come up to you and chat. You can also join a local toastmaster group to practice your presentation skills. You’ll naturally meet people in similar circumstances, and you can build an authentic bond off of this.
6. Always focus on your career development
Actively pursuing professional development empowers your career growth. Proactively investing in your skills and knowledge through workshops, certifications, and training programs propels your career development. It equips you with the tools necessary to navigate the complexities of the modern workplace, making you an invaluable asset to any organization. At the end of the day, you need to remember that you are your own personal and professional brand.
7. Embrace “failure”, learn from it, and grow from it
You want to know the best way to become better? Failing and then learning from it. Failure is not a setback but a stepping stone toward success. Failure, far from being the end of the road, is a valuable teacher. It provides lessons, resilience, and the opportunity to improve. By embracing failure as a natural part of the journey, you develop the courage to take risks, essential for innovation and personal growth.
8. Don’t forget about your soft skills
Everything doesn’t have to be “so technical.” While technical skills are crucial, soft skills like communication, empathy, and leadership are equally important. They enable you to collaborate effectively, resolve conflicts, and inspire others. Mastering these skills enhances your professional reputation and opens doors to various career opportunities.
9. Prioritize your mental health
The most important thing when it comes to building your career is the state of your mental health. After working in lots of toxic environments, I’ve learned that your mental well-being is the foundation of a successful career. Mental health is often overlooked in the pursuit of career goals. However, a healthy mind is the catalyst for productivity, creativity, and resilience. Prioritizing your mental health through self-care practices, therapy, and mindfulness benefits your well-being and positively impacts your professional life.
10. You need a strong and structured work ethic
A strong work ethic speaks volumes about your dedication and professionalism. Demonstrating a good work ethic—being diligent, punctual, and committed to your tasks—establishes your reliability. It not only garners respect from colleagues and supervisors but also sets the stage for a fulfilling and successful career journey.
11. Develop a strong knowledge of job search strategies
Let’s face it, you’ll eventually want a new job, a career change, or a better job offer. This means you need to have a solid and strategic job search strategy. In the competitive job market, a one-size-fits-all approach does not work. Crafting personalized resumes and cover letters for each application showcases your genuine interest and understanding of the role. It reflects your dedication and increases your chances of securing your dream job.
12. Master adaptability
Adaptability is the cornerstone of thriving in the modern workplace. The ability to adapt to new things—be it technologies, work methods, or team dynamics—ensures your relevance in a constantly changing environment. Those who embrace change with enthusiasm find themselves well-positioned to navigate the complexities of the contemporary workplace.
13. Practice and develop self-confidence
Confidence is the key to unlocking your full potential. Belief in who you are and your abilities—confidence—is the foundation of a successful career. It empowers you to take on challenges, advocate for yourself, and pursue ambitious goals. Cultivating confidence transforms self-doubt into unwavering self-assurance, enabling you to achieve remarkable feats.
14. Be comfortable and eager to receive feedback
The best thing you can do to improve personally and professionally is being open to feedback. Constructive criticism is a valuable tool for personal and professional growth. Feedback, both positive and negative, provides insights into your performance. Embracing feedback with an open mind and a willingness to learn enables continuous improvement. It refines your skills, hones your strengths, and equips you to tackle future challenges more effectively.
15. Practice and perfect your time management skills
Effective time management enhances productivity and work-life balance. Managing your time efficiently involves prioritizing tasks, setting realistic goals, and avoiding procrastination. Proper time management not only boosts productivity but also ensures you maintain a healthy balance between your professional and personal life. It empowers you to accomplish more in less time, leading to a fulfilling career.
16. Keep a positive attitude
The way you view yourself and your career is a huge indicator of your long-term success and ability to reach goals. A positive attitude fosters resilience and inspires others. A positive attitude is also very contagious; it uplifts not only your spirits but also those around you. In the face of challenges, maintaining a positive outlook fosters resilience. It encourages creativity, problem-solving, and effective communication, making you a valuable asset in any professional setting.
17. Continuously practice and improve your communication
Clear and concise communication is the foundation of successful collaborations. Mastering both verbal and written communication is essential in the professional world. Clear communication ensures that your ideas are understood, reducing misunderstandings and conflicts. It promotes collaboration, enhances team dynamics, and strengthens relationships with colleagues and clients.
18. Become a skilled negotiator
In life you are continuously negotiating, you need to work at becoming comfortable with it. Negotiating your worth is a demonstration of your value and confidence. Salary negotiations are an integral part of career advancement. Researching industry standards, articulating your achievements, and confidently negotiating your worth reflect your professionalism. Effective negotiation can lead to a higher salary, improved benefits, and increased job satisfaction.
19. Develop leadership qualities early in your career
You don’t have to have a title to be a leader. Get in the habit of cultivating leadership qualities, regardless of your position, to inspire and motivate others. Cultivating leadership qualities such as empathy, integrity, and vision enables you to inspire and motivate your colleagues. Great leaders foster a positive work environment, encourage creativity, and empower others to achieve their full potential. This is a deeply desired and transferable skill that most employers want AND need.
20. Stay curious
This is something I tell all young professionals. You will never master or know everything, but what you can do, is be the most curious person in the room. Curiosity fuels innovation and personal growth. Curiosity also sparks the desire to explore, learn, and understand. In the professional sphere, being curious about new things in your industry or related fields enhances your knowledge base. It encourages continuous learning, innovation, and the development of a broad skill set, making you a valuable asset to any organization. It also helps you stand out among your peers and you often end up becoming the “go-to” person for your boss.
21. Build your personal brand
Your personal social media accounts reflect your professional expertise. In the digital age, your online presence is often the first impression you make. (Yes, employers and your colleagues are googling you!). Building a professional image on platforms like LinkedIn not only showcases your expertise but also connects you with like-minded professionals. Your personal social media accounts serve as an extension of your resume, allowing you to demonstrate your knowledge and passion for your field. Your online presence is also a major differentiator between you and the competition.
22. Get clear on your career goals and set them often
Clear and achievable goals provide direction and motivation. Setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals gives your career a clear direction. It provides motivation and a sense of purpose, guiding your actions and decisions. Regularly reviewing and adjusting your goals ensures you stay focused on your aspirations, leading to a fulfilling and successful career journey. If you want to learn more about setting SMART goals, check out the article, How to set SMART work goals.
Need more help laying out your personal and professional goals? Check out this digital Career Goal Tracking journal. You can use the code GROW50 for 50% off!
23. Embrace new technology
The world of tech is changing every day. You need to be a part of that change. Staying updated with technological advancements enhances your skill set. Technology is an integral part of the modern workplace. Staying abreast of the latest tools and trends in your industry enhances your skill set and efficiency. Proficiency in relevant technologies not only makes you more marketable but also positions you as an innovative and forward-thinking professional.
24. Develop strong problem-solving skills
Effective problem-solving skills are a testament to your adaptability and resourcefulness. Problem-solving skills are highly valued in any profession. The ability to analyze situations, identify challenges, and devise effective solutions demonstrates your adaptability and resourcefulness. Cultivating strong problem-solving skills equips you to tackle complex issues, making you an asset in any team or organization.
25. Attend networking events
Participating in industry events fosters valuable connections and insights. Networking events provide a platform to meet new people in your industry, exchange ideas, and gain insights into emerging trends. Building relationships with professionals from diverse backgrounds expands your knowledge base and opens doors to potential collaborations and opportunities. Active participation in such events strengthens your professional network, which can be invaluable throughout your career. P.S., in a tough job market, having the right connections works every time.
26. Monitor your online presence
Your online presence is a direct reflection of your professionalism and expertise. Employers often explore online profiles to assess a candidate’s suitability. Managing your online presence involves curating professional content and engaging in meaningful discussions related to your field. A well-maintained online presence enhances your credibility and demonstrates your expertise, making you more attractive to potential employers and collaborators. (Tip: everything doesn’t have to go on social media, it’s ok to keep party nights and unsavory moments private).
27. Learn the ins and outs of managing your finances
Financial literacy empowers you to make informed decisions about your finances. Understanding basic finances, including budgeting, saving, investing, and retirement planning, is crucial for your financial well-being. Being financially savvy enables you to make informed decisions, prepare for unexpected expenses, and invest in your future. Financial stability provides peace of mind, allowing you to focus on your professional goals with confidence.
28. Embrace Diversity
Appreciating and embracing diversity enriches your perspective and workplace dynamics. Diversity in the workplace encompasses differences in race, gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and more. Embracing diversity fosters a culture of inclusion and mutual respect. Exposure to diverse perspectives enhances creativity, problem-solving, and innovation. A diverse workplace enriches your understanding of the world, making you a more empathetic and open-minded professional.
29. Get active in your community and volunteer
Volunteering expands your horizons and gives back to the community. Volunteering your time and skills not only contributes to social causes but also provides new knowledge and experiences. It allows you to connect with diverse communities, develop empathy, and enhance your skills in real-world situations. Volunteering can also introduce you to potential mentors, industry allies, potential partners, and maybe even your future boss! Either way this allows you to expand your professional network and enhance your skill set.
30. Stay Humble
Humility is a sign of strength and fosters positive relationships. Regardless of your achievements, remaining humble and appreciative of others’ contributions creates a positive work environment. Humility is a sign of strength, indicating your ability to acknowledge the efforts of your colleagues and collaborators. It fosters trust, teamwork, and effective communication, leading to a harmonious workplace.
31. Emphasize Quality Over Quantity
Consistently delivering high-quality work speaks volumes about your professionalism. Striving for excellence in your work demonstrates your commitment to quality. Whether it’s a project, presentation, or report, focusing on quality over quantity showcases your attention to detail and dedication. Quality work not only earns the respect of your peers and supervisors but also establishes your reputation as a reliable and skilled professional.
32. Build a Professional Portfolio
Carefully curated portfolios can allow you to stand out amongst the competition. A professional portfolio showcases your skills and achievements effectively. A well-organized professional portfolio is a visual representation of your skills, achievements, and experiences. It provides tangible evidence of your capabilities, making it easier for potential employers or clients to assess your suitability for a role or project. Regularly updating your portfolio ensures it reflects your latest accomplishments and skills, enhancing your professional credibility.
33. Learn from Failure
One of my favorite quotes is, “you never fail, you learn.” Failure is a teacher that guides you toward growth and success. Failure, far from being a setback, is an opportunity to learn and improve. Analyzing the reasons behind failure, identifying areas for growth, and adjusting your approach lead to resilience and personal development. Embracing failure as a natural part of your journey empowers you to face challenges with courage and determination, ultimately guiding you toward success.
34. Find a mentor
I believe that everyone needs a mentor. No matter your age, career level, or background. A mentor can provide invaluable guidance and support throughout your career. So who is a mentor? A mentor is a trusted advisor who provides valuable insights, advice, and support. They share their experiences, offer guidance, and help you navigate challenges. A mentor can provide a different perspective, introduce you to valuable connections, and inspire you to reach your full potential. Cultivating a mentor-mentee relationship can significantly impact your career trajectory, providing you with a strong foundation for success.
35. Dress for success
You’ve heard the phrase, “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” right? It’s true. Your appearance influences the way you are perceived in the professional world (and the way you feel!). While professionalism extends beyond appearances, dressing appropriately sends a strong message about your respect for the workplace and its norms. Dressing for success means understanding the dress code of your workplace and industry and aligning your attire with professional standards. A polished appearance enhances your confidence and leaves a positive impression on colleagues, clients, and employers.
36. Always be proactive
Anticipating needs and taking initiative demonstrates your commitment to your role. Proactivity involves identifying tasks and issues before they arise and taking action to address them. Anticipating the needs of your team or organization and being proactive not only showcases your dedication but also contributes to the efficiency of the workplace. Proactive individuals are problem-solvers, innovators, and reliable team members, making them highly valuable in any professional setting.
37. Practice empathy (strengthen your Emotional Intelligence)
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Practicing empathy in the workplace fosters positive relationships, effective communication, and collaborative teamwork. It allows you to connect with colleagues on a deeper level, leading to improved morale, trust, and a harmonious work environment. Empathetic individuals are attentive listeners, supportive teammates, and skilled mediators, enhancing the overall workplace experience.
38. Seek challenging projects
Volunteering for challenging tasks enhances your skills and confidence. Seeking challenging tasks also demonstrates your confidence in your abilities and your willingness to push your boundaries. Taking on tasks that require you to acquire new roles or develop specific skills not only enhances your expertise but also boosts your confidence. Successfully completing challenging assignments showcases your adaptability and resourcefulness, making you an asset to your team and organization.
39. Focus on your health and wellness
Self-care is an essential component of a successful and fulfilling career. Prioritizing your health and wellness is essential for sustained career success. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and stress management techniques are crucial for maintaining physical and mental well-being. A healthy lifestyle boosts your energy levels, enhances your focus and creativity, and strengthens your resilience, enabling you to tackle challenges with vigor and enthusiasm.
40. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude fosters positivity and resilience in the face of challenges. Practicing gratitude involves acknowledging and appreciating the positive aspects of your life, both personally and professionally. Expressing gratitude for your achievements, supportive relationships, and opportunities fosters a positive outlook and resilience. Grateful individuals are more optimistic, motivated, and better equipped to overcome obstacles, leading to a fulfilling and successful career journey.
41. Embrace lifelong learning
Never stop learning! Curiosity and continuous learning are the cornerstones of personal and professional growth. Curiosity about the world and a willingness to explore new ideas fuel this continuous learning process. Embracing lifelong learning keeps your mind sharp, enhances your creativity, and equips you with the knowledge to adapt to evolving industries and technologies. It ensures that you remain relevant and competitive in the ever-changing professional landscape.
42. Volunteer for Projects
If you have the time and mental capacity to do this, try it! Volunteering for projects showcases your enthusiasm and willingness to contribute. Seeking out additional projects or tasks beyond your usual responsibilities demonstrates your enthusiasm for your work and your commitment to the success of your team or organization. Volunteering allows you to showcase your skills, learn new things, and collaborate with colleagues from diverse backgrounds. It also positions you as a proactive and engaged team member, contributing to a positive work environment.
43. Operate ethically and maintain your integrity
Upholding ethical standards is essential for your professional integrity and reputation. Upholding ethical standards builds trust with colleagues, clients, and employers. It ensures that you are respected for your integrity and professionalism, paving the way for long-term professional relationships and opportunities. Ethical behavior is a hallmark of a responsible and trustworthy professional. Plus, you’ll never let yourself down or have regrets.
44. Balance work and life
Remember that you have a life outside of work. Achieving a balance between work and personal life is essential for your well-being and productivity. Balancing work and life involves setting boundaries and allocating time for your personal pursuits, hobbies, and relationships. Achieving a healthy work-life balance reduces stress, prevents burnout, and enhances your overall well-being. It also boosts your productivity, creativity, and job satisfaction, allowing you to approach your professional responsibilities with renewed energy and focus. If you want tips on how to incorporate work-life balance into your life, check out the article, Why work-life balance is so important.
45. Celebrate small wins
The small wins matter! Celebrating even the smallest accomplishments—completing a project, achieving a milestone, or receiving positive feedback— can boost your morale and motivation. Acknowledging your achievements, no matter how minor, reinforces your efforts and encourages you to continue working diligently. Celebrating small wins fosters a positive mindset and resilience, empowering you to face challenges with confidence and determination.
46. Take care of all the relationships in your life
Nurturing personal and professional relationships is essential for your support system. Building and maintaining positive relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and mentors provide emotional support, encouragement, and valuable advice. Taking care of these relationships ensures you have a strong support system during both challenges and successes. Cultivating meaningful connections enriches your personal and professional life, providing a network of individuals who uplift and inspire you.
47. Embrace cultural intelligence
Cultural intelligence enhances your ability to work effectively in a globalized world. Cultural intelligence, or the ability to understand and adapt to different cultures, is essential in today’s globalized workplace. Embracing cultural diversity fosters effective communication, collaboration, and mutual understanding. Developing cultural intelligence allows you to navigate diverse work environments with respect and sensitivity, enabling you to build strong relationships with colleagues and clients from various cultural backgrounds.
48. Invest in continuous education
Staying updated with industry trends through continuous education enhances your professional expertise. Investing in continuous education, whether through workshops, courses, or certifications, ensures you stay updated with industry trends and advancements. Continuous education enhances your expertise, making you a valuable asset to your organization or clients. It also demonstrates your commitment to professional growth and development, positioning you as a knowledgeable and skilled professional. P.S. even if your company won’t pay for continuing education, if you see the benefit, don’t be afraid to invest in yourself!
49. Reflect and Plan
Regular self-reflection and goal-setting provide clarity and direction. Taking time for self-reflection allows you to assess your progress, identify areas for improvement, and acknowledge your achievements. Reflecting on your goals, both short-term and long-term, provides clarity and direction for your career. Regularly evaluating your career choices, achievements, and aspirations allows you to align your actions with your goals, ensuring that you stay focused on your path to success.
50. Never give up on yourself
If you don’t remember anything from this list, I want you to remember this. In fact, it may be the best advice in this whole article. You will encounter tough times. Sometimes you will be pushed out of your comfort zone, you’ll question your career decision, you’ll have difficult conversations, and hear opinions from different people. The most important thing you can do is NEVER GIVE UP ON YOURSELF! Keep pushing forward and take one day at a time.
This article was a compilation of some of the best career advice I’ve learned during my career as well as those of my clients. As you continue to build your career, you’ll learn career lessons and words of wisdom that will guide you along the way. No matter the twists, turns, and obstacles you encounter, I know that you will make it to the other side! As always, I wish you the best in your career.
You got this!
If you have great career advice you’d like to share, make sure to leave a comment below.
Cheers to your success!