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The Best Career Advice I Ever Received

Having worked in recruiting and HR for as long as I have, I typically get asked for a lot of advice from people when it comes to all things resumes, job search and careers.   The questions typically range from what to put on a resume to how to find their “perfect” job. I try and do my best to advise and point people in the right direction.

Career Advice Image

The challenge, of course, for most people, is that when they are asking me for advice, it is often because they have either just lost their job and need a new one, or they have just graduated from school and need a job or they have reached a breaking point in their current job and need to make a change – ASAP. The problem is that none of these circumstances are ideal for giving and receiving great career advice. Quite often at this stage people are looking for a magical pill that will enable them to find a great paying job immediately. Believe you me, if I had that kind of pill or capability I would have patented it and became a millionaire by now!

Seriously though, what I wanted to share with you in this blog post was the best career advice I had ever received so that you can then apply this advice in your own personal and professional lives. I try and relay this advice to anyone that cares to ask/listen if they serious about their career development and truly want the best advice they can get. Here is the tricky part though, the best advice I have ever received is very simple in its message, yet very complicated in its application. It goes like his:

Many years ago I was lucky enough to find a great mentor. He was always very generous with his time, advice and coaching. Early on in my career, just shortly after graduating from university, he gave me the best career advice I had ever received. To this day, I have never forgotten his words and I still apply this in my professional life today. What he told me was this: You need to be continuously managing your own career and your personal brand – no one else is going to do that for you.

He was trying to instill in me a sense of career ownership and to not expect a company or manager to do this for me or expect them to “promote” me into a job, just because it was something I was interested in or wanted. As my mentor, I will always be grateful for him driving home the point with me about needing to manage my own brand. To this day, I advise people that they need to make decisions in the best interest of YOUR NAME INC. When you look at potential career opportunities or paths, you need to decide if it is in YOUR best interest to pursue it and will it add to your own personal brand. Each career decision you make is all about building your professional portfolio of knowledge, skills and abilities. The more you invest in this, the greater the value of your professional brand.

Here is the crazy part, the concept of continuously managing one’s career is often a foreign concept for most people. The majority of people that I speak to don’t typically give this any thought until, as mentioned above, they actually need a job. Here is the irony of this – the best time to be managing your career is now, this instant (when you are hopefully employed), as in start doing it now!

What I mean is that you need to be having career discussions with your manager now. You need to take control of this situation and drive the conversation – don’t wait for your manager to come to you and offer you a promotion or even ask you what you want to be when you grow up. Your manager is probably pretty content, and rightly so, to have you continue to do good work in the job you are in now – as that makes their life easier! You need to identify what you want, then ask your manager what it will take to get you there.

At the same time, you also need to take control of your career and invest in your personal brand. Not on LinkedIn…? Better join now – it isn’t some fad that is going away! Join some groups, participate in discussions. Do you have great ideas? Then why not start a blog? Get out and network. Reach out to former colleagues that you haven’t spoken with in some time. You will find they will be more receptive to your phone call (yes, I said phone call) if you aren’t hitting them up with “I need a job.” Volunteer, get involved with a cause you believe in. Invest in your network and you will find there is an ROI when you need it most. The bottom line is this; there is no better time than now to start managing your own career and your personal brand. Remember, if you don’t do it, no one else will. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net



4 Responses

  1. Great advice, I totally agree. It’s empowering to be in charge of your own “destiny”.

  2. Agree 100 percent. Great read!

  3. […] has really stuck with my as a career strategy.  Check the best career advice Scott ever received here (it’s a good […]

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