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Have you ever wondered if there is more behind successful individuals than the typical advice you see in most publications on developing your brand and career. The answer is yes; successful individuals have figured out tangible actions to supplement those pieces of advice and supplement their work performance. Today I am going to share a few of the less obvious pieces of advice I’ve accrued over the years as a young professional that have helped me gain traction in my career.
- Common Advice: Stay on top of the news, business trends, and industry developments
- How I did it: Subscribe to a daily email newsletter (and watch the news!)
I’ll admit I get my news while running at the gym, but it is better than not seeing any at all. It gives you an awareness of what is going on in the community and the world. To get specific career advice and industry news, I subscribe to newsletters of topics I am interested in (for example manufacturing and leadership skills). Doing this provides periodic insights on industry news, articles to further your knowledge, and a little self reminder that you take your career and job success seriously. I recommend SmartBrief and Careerealism.
- Common Advice: Never react, always respond
- How I did it: Working with mentors
I owe this one almost entirely to working with my bosses and mentors. It is so easy in the heat of the moment to get angry and snap back with a biting comment. I would take notes on circumstances that had not gone well, or situations I wish I’d handled better, or an issue I was currently dealing with, and ask the advice of a trusted peer, boss or mentor on how they would handle this situation. Every difficult interaction helps you prepare for the next one (as long as you learn from it). When you react to a comment or action, you don’t think as clearly as you would if you took the time to reflect on a constructive reply instead.
- Common Advice: Grow your network
- How I did it: When someone offers you to connect, do it
At work, a networking event, or a conference, when someone extends an offer to connect further with you, follow up on it! It is unlikely someone will offer to meet with you to discuss a question in more detail or continue a conversation if they do not truly mean it. Capitalize on this offer; it is a great lead in for an email or LinkedIn note to talk again. Multiple people in my network are folks I’ve met whom extended a similar offer. Now that I’ve a few years under my belt, I find myself presenting the same offer to connect to interns and new hires that approach me with questions or are looking for advice. And a piece of follow up advice, you don’t just have a connection once; you have to nurture it with continued tie-ins and discussions in the future.
- Common Advice: Take ownership of your career
- How I did it: Write down career notes
The amount of information available for career development is daunting. Books, websites, mentors, classes, etc…Adapting a combination of these as a way to learn and develop in career planning is a great start. However, just like learning important information in school, you should write it down and take notes. That great piece of advice on delivering a stellar presentation you discovered on Twitter? Print the article or write it down. You never know when that information will come in handy. I find this especially important for advice that is provided by word of mouth from peers, supervisors, or leadership as you can’t search for it later on.
- Common Advice: Stay Engaged
- How I did it: Don’t flaunt leaving
I was fortunate, upon college graduation, to be accepted into a Leadership Development Program. I discovered quickly, that people can be hesitant to help a coworker who is already perceived as “leaving” soon or not a permanent employee. In each of my rotations, I made it specifically known to all my teammates that I was there to help the department as much as possible. I put my best foot forward to show that during my eight months I was dedicated to that job and to spend serious time getting to know my team. I’ve seen interns, temporary assignments, and rotation program people falter time and time again my readily announcing and displaying that they are only passing through. It is almost like giving your teammates permission not to help you because you are leaving soon. Never catch yourself saying anything like “It doesn’t matter; I only have one more month.” It matters until the very last hour of your very last day.
Ultimately, the hidden secret to any career and happiness is finding what works for you.
About the Author
Christina Kach is working as an industrial engineer specializing in Lean and Six Sigma at a government defense contractor in Massachusetts. She is a young professional writing real time advice from her experiences in the business world to share with other young professionals at www.catchcareers.com. Christina is a graduate of the College of Engineering at Northeastern University, Class of 2009. You can connect with her on Twitter @ChristinaKach