I’ve been working for twenty plus years, across five continents and 28 countries, with some of the best businessmen and women in the world today. I’ve enjoyed every second of it and have been fortunate to be given some of the best career advice that is possible in the world we live in today.
I’m happy to take advice from anyone. At the end of the day, whether the information is good, or bad, you can choose what you want to do with it. Below are the Ten Best Bits of Career Advice that you need to know.
Choose A Career That You Enjoy
Sadly, the facts of life are straightforward. If you work 47 hours a week between the ages of 23, to 65, you’ll be spending 90,000 hours, sat at your desk working. This could be a lot of time spent doing something you enjoy, or it could be doing something you hate. I know what I would prefer.
Too often, I meet candidates that hate their job. They hate the thought of getting up on a Monday morning and going to work. When I ask them why they started their career in the field, the usual response is it paid the bills rather than they enjoyed the work.
The best bit of career advice I have ever been given is to choose a career that you enjoy. There are plenty of ways to make money on the side, but if you hate your day job, nothing can be more depressing.
It Doesn’t Matter Where You Start
If the best bit of career advice I’ve ever received is to follow your heart and do what you enjoy, the second is that it doesn’t matter where you start. Over the years, I’ve met many professionals who’ve started their career in very strange places, but made it work due to commitment and working hard. As an example;
- I recently met a candidate who started working as a restaurant supervisor as he couldn’t afford to go to University. He is now the Finance Director of a major FTSE 250 company and got his start in finance because he took the first six exams of his ACA while working.
- Last year I met a stockbroker in London who started his career selling suits. He cold-called his way into a stockbrokers office and did such a good job selling suits, he was offered a position.
Work Smart, Not Hard
I’ve always thought most of my success was down to working smart, rather than hard. In any corporate environment, there are always people that are going to work harder than you. There will always be people who don’t have any life outside the office, however, this doesn’t mean they will be more productive than you. Personal productivity will always be important.
In any corporate environment, people don’t care about your workload, they don’t care that you’re team is understaffed, and they don’t care how much you complain. They will complain if your productivity is low, and this is about working smarter, not harder.
Richard Branson once said, “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”. Quite frankly, this is an excellent bit of advice and rings too true.
Too many candidates are also worried about whether they will be able to do something, they often talk themselves out of it, before they’ve even started. The truth, if you could not do it, you wouldn’t have been asked in the first place or its impossible, and no one is going to get the job done.
Remember, you only ever get asked to do something once. If you say no, you’ll be overlooked next time a project comes up, and it will hurt your career over time.
Your Comfort Zone
Too often, I’ve met candidates that have spent twenty years, working in their comfort zone. They’ve never challenged themselves and had to learn something new. They’ve been promoted over the years, but don’t know how to take on a challenge, and then they’re made redundant.
You must say “yes” to things that you might not be able to do. Whether this is applying for a new position or learning a totally new skill, getting out of your comfort zone is one of the best ways to advance your career.
But Watch Out When The “Yes” is Taking You Totally Off Course
Getting out of your comfort zone is essential, but knowing when to turn something down is just as important. Often over the last twenty years, I’ve met candidates who have moved their career in one direction, to get out of their comfort zone, only to find it challenging to return.
As an example, finance professionals will often look at project or implementation projects to gain exposure to the latest technology, however, after a few years, that technology could quickly become irrelevant as it’s been replaced. The problem now, you’re finance experience is out of date, and your technology project experience, irrelevant. It’s estimated that the average shelf-life of a skill is about five years.
Being a team player is not only about helping out during the business time of the year, but also about building and honouring relationships with your colleagues and clients. We’re all connected through technology
Being dependable is the number one trait I’m looking for in members of my time. Business is all about relationships, and without trust, the relationship doesn’t exist.
If you model this behaviour, you’ll find that you will attract people you can count on.
Forty years ago, the Rolodex was sat on your desk and typically consisted of a selection of business cards that you’ve collected over the years. Today, thanks to websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, its online and global.
I have a LinkedIn account with over 7,000 connections made up of people I have met over the year, people I have worked with and people I want to connect with.
This web of contacts is my encyclopaedia of knowledge where I can ask questions and get advice on a range of different situations and problems. It’s also my ticket to new clients, candidate and business referrals. As long as I monitor these connection, build bridges and do my best to help out where possible, every relationship is an opportunity.
You need to make sure you have your own Rolodex.
Never Give Up
Life is full of surprises, twists and turns.