Career Advice – Good vs. Bad

The job world is full of advice for Job Seekers & Career Changers, but how do you deal with it and what about your own voice and experience?

 

For those of you who regularly read my blog posts or attend my presentations, you may have worked out that I often refer to personal experiences. I’ve received a lot of advice during my corporate days and I’ve provided my share of career advice since I launched this Jobseeker Blog in April 2013.

If you are a Jobseeker or Career Changer, you are likely hearing or reading more than your minimum daily requirement. I understand that and what I want is for you to find “real solutions” and, more importantly, for you to be inspired and motivated.

 

People who mean well want to offer a reflective opinion concerning how you should go forward and leave your mark on the world. This is easier said than done when you are a jobseeker. I realise that all of the advice chatter might feel a bit overwhelming — especially with all that is ahead of you — but I assure you, that my advice is certainly well intentioned. However, with all the advice you receive, either in verbal or written form, there is one key point to remember, and that is to temper its application with the sound of your own voice.

You get me?  What I am telling you is to listen openly to all the advice that is offered, as it is given with passion, sometimes with love and more often with concern for you and your wellbeing. However, be sure not to lose yourself within that conversation.

Why am I telling you this? A good portion of my good decisions in my own life were made on the back of some good advice I received from family, friends, peers, managers and gifted speakers and writers. I recently attended a coaching session at the Founders Institute and much of the advice was common sense or refresher material and the speaker was genuine. But the one thing that I remembered the most was a poster near the nibbles and drinks buffet. It summarised so much of how I see myself and what I regularly declare as the key reason for my blog work. I want you to be in charge of your own destiny.

 

Life

Today I would like to share some of the most memorable advice snippets (best & worst) I have ever received with you, including some in “hindsight″ feedback.

“Find something you love to do and …

if you can even get paid you for it, you’ve got it made.”

 

I have to say, this was the best of all career advice I ever received. It was Graham Maher, the CEO of Vodafone Australia (2001–2005), who gave me that advice at the end of a gruelling 5 day change management workshop. He liked my work and he pulled me aside and suggested that I should do more of what I obviously loved during the 5 day workshop. I never felt better about myself in my entire career. Looking back, I never would have guessed that a total stranger (a former baker), had been privy to the “secret sauce” of work life happiness — but he did have the power of experience behind him as he made it from being a small town baker in New Zealand to the CEO of a leading Australian telecom company. When he offered me this advice, employee engagement (per se) was yet to be discussed. But his words resonated with me and I think about his comment often. His words guided me at many a crossroad. Graham loved what he did everyday — and this was obvious. He worked long hours, always had an open ear, regularly took late night phone calls and rarely missed an opportunity to engage with members of his team outside of the office. When he passed away, I heard and read countless inspiring stories from managers and staff explaining how he had touched their lives in a deep and meaningful way. It was amazing. I wish that kind of career for all of you — so search with great wisdom for a role that you will love. Hence my closing statement at every blog – “hunt wisely”.

 “Don’t bring your personal life to work.”

 

This was definitely the worst (and the most perplexing) advice offered. I won’t share with you who generously shared this advice but I know that he is not a leader I would want to work for again. Here I was, I shared something private about my personal life with him and half way through the conversation, he suddenly volunteered his advice. I was absolutely speechless. All I could think of at that moment was, “How do I possibly accomplish that?”, and “How can anyone who is genuine – anyone with integrity achieve that?” As it turns out his advice wasn’t really a viable goal after all. We are who we are and we eventually bring ‘all that is us’ to work each day – whether we like it or know it or realise it – as our lives outside of the office shape us.  I was unhappy and uneasy around this CEO and I realised that I started to change as I tried to cater to his ‘advice’ in order to secure my career. I realised very soon that it was nearly impossible to perform a dissection, and remove my home or personal life from who I was at work if I wanted to be genuine (or vice versa, for that matter).

The irony of this, is how many of us now complete our work from our home offices. Funny how that turned out – as our personal lives regularly intersect (and meld) with work life today and more and more businesses expect us to be connected to our work life during ‘non-work’ hours. So, my hindsight review on this one is, don’t listen to that sort of crappy advice. Go forward and encourage evolution in your work life in order to make work, work for you.

“Stick to your core area of strength.” 

 

Wowser how wrong that piece of advice was. Seriously, don’t ever sell yourself short. Learn as much as you possibly can, about as many core areas of an organisation as you enjoy — this will help you to transform and grow into a seasoned and respected contributor. When I entered the world of work, I’d spent years learning about sales and service and customer behaviour and the elements of sales-led organisations. But, what I really needed to see first hand, was how all of the pieces connected in real time. When presented with an opportunity to manage the service departments for the broader organisation, many of my peers let me know they thought I was misguided to leave my role in client management. But, for some odd reason I didn’t listen. I’ve never regretted that choice, as I learned more about the business than I ever imagined when I entered the world of sales & marketing, and later, people management. My hindsight view on this advice: building flexibility, while developing new strengths is always a good path. So even if those opportunities don’t present themselves immediately, search for them. Maybe even try to create them yourself. Ultimately, a career is a multi-faceted quest, where unexpected twists and turns should be embraced.  My advice: Don’t hesitate to travel off the beaten path and explore once in a while, and when you meet new people, listen to everything, not just facts or details, as you may miss a golden opportunity to meet a useful mentor or coach.

I believe it doesn’t matter what primary personality traits you have. Try to open those doors with hope and respect — for yourself — and those that you will certainly meet along your journey.

Good luck to you, and remember when you are out there to hunt wisely! 

Uli

PS: (What is the best or the worst advice that you’ve received? I’d love to hear it.)

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