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What’s the Best Career Advice You’ve Ever Received?


This was the question posed to me, and a room full of about a hundred career services professionals, at a recent presentation. In a small group exercise, we were each asked to turn to the person next to us and share our answers. I immediately wondered what it would be like to capture all of those responses!

While I wasn’t able to document what was shared that day, I turned to my personal learning network and asked the same question. Take a look at some of the input I received though Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ over the past week.

Often the job search and job acquisition can last from 3 months to a year. Job search is like a job in itself. Keep at it!@LauraPasquini

I think this is terrific advice that speaks to both expectations and persistence. Knowing more about the job market in your field, and how long it might take you to secure a new position can help you plan for the time. And sticking with it, as is necessary with many life goals, is essential. If you are in the midst of a job search how are you moving forward? Create a list of daily tasks to keep you on target.

Find the solution, not the culprit. Blame does not foster growth. – @UH_COE

This one was submitted by my friends at the University of Hawaii’s College of Education. They highlight not only a problem solving approach, but also the importance of taking responsibility. Career development and the job search can be stressful, frustrating, and discouraging, especially when things don’t go according to plan. When an obstacle appears or a change of path is indicated, what do you need to do to adjust? Focus on the situation at hand and research your possible courses of action.

Find a way to do something you care about. #cheesyIknow@evmaiden

Contrary to the hashtag that was included with this submission, I don’t think it is cheesy at all. Finding a way to do something you are interested in doing, and that has value to you, is critical to job satisfaction and overall well-being. Unfortunately, the needs of the job market don’t always match what we want to do. If this is case in your area of work, consider other ways in which you can pursue these interests, such as through volunteering and community service or as a hobby. And document your achievements, even when they are unpaid. They may be more marketable as employers’ needs change.

Start an IRA at 22 and always contribute even if only a small amount.@stevebragaw

What are your long-range plans for career and retirement? This advice to start saving early is not new, but like all of the items contributed to this post, it bears repeating. We don’t want to think about saving money when we start out – there’s so much we want to do and everything costs money. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone at the end of their career say that they saved too much. Having a solid emergency fund also gives you some flexibility should your next job search take longer than anticipated.

Have a backup plan.@stevebragaw

You may be familiar with the concept of Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. It can happen in our careers and job search efforts, too. So, what happens when “Plan A” falls through? In today’s job market you may need plans B and C. Consider possible alternatives by researching what others are doing with the major, degree, or certification you are pursuing. Your career may encounter unexpected twists and turns – be prepared and ready to react.

If you work really hard and are kind, amazing things will happen.@HatToss

This advice was submitted via Google+ and may be my favorite of all the submissions I received. No matter where you find yourself working, stay focused and perform your assigned duties to the best of your abilities. And be nice to the people you encounter along the way. You never know who you’ll meet and it really is a small world. How would your current or previous co-workers describe you? Build a reputation as a positive, hard working, professional person.

As for me, I think some of the best advice I ever received was: don’t pattern your career after anyone else’s. These are dynamic times and you never know what opportunities may be just on the horizon. Career fields are changing and new ones emerging, particularly in areas where technology is involved. Know your strengths and be open to opportunities that arise, and even to possibly blazing your own trail.

We all get advice from a range of people in our personal and professional lives – family, friends, coworkers, and more. They have different perspectives and experiences that often yield helpful lessons learned. Check with your career center and alumni association for resources, and reach out to ask your network for advice that will help you make informed decisions about your career and the pursuit of your next job.

What’s the best career advice you have ever received? Share via the comments section of this page and we’ll keep the list going. Thanks to all who contributed to this post!

Image credit: falkowata, Flickr, CC-BY

July 18th, 2012 written by Staff Writers

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