What’s the best career advice you’ve ever had? This new guest post reflects on that very question and offers fresh insight…
by Alison Neyle
I’ve never been one for buying into anything overly inspirational. Social media is awash with meaningless quotes that 9 times out of 10 make you feel worse about yourself rather than better!
One night, mindlessly scrolling through LinkedIn (I know it’s not just me who does this - right?) I came across an article perfectly described by my friend as advice that “inspires but that isn’t needlessly inspirational”.
‘The career advice I wish I had when I was 25’ by Shane Rodgers, business executive, writer and marketer.
Whilst many of the points raised in the article struck a chord, one in particular has really stuck with me - A career is a marathon not a sprint.
Turns out, us millennials aren’t very patient. We’re always looking for the next big break, to jump 4 rungs on the career ladder because either we think we’ve worked hard to get it or everyone else seems to be getting promotions, so why not me. And, you know what, we wanted it to have happened yesterday and to be paid silly amounts of money to do it.
We don’t stay in a job for long. Nearly half of us 25 to 35 year olds don’t plan to stay in our job for longer than two years. Compare that with say my parents generation who on average stuck with it for more than 10 years.
Now, I’m not advocating for people to stay in a job that they’re not happy in. But, I think there is definitely something in staying put for a little longer.
What I’ve learnt is that it’s not about having the best job title, it’s about being an expert in your field, nurturing relationships and building trust and confidence in your abilities. These are qualities that don’t just make you make you a better colleague, they also help you develop great leadership qualities and in turn, open the door to more opportunities.
As an impatient millennial I’m always open to taking on a new challenge and developing my skills and knowledge. Initially I thought that meant getting in touch with your recruiter and changing your LinkedIn status to ‘open to offers’. But hey - you know what - you don’t have to leave your current job to get ahead.
Any good boss will already be talking to you about your long term career ambitions. If they’re not, go talk to them about it in your next one to one. Be open and honest with them about what you want from your career and where you hope to be. Then, develop a plan. That plan may involve staying in your current position for the next three years, doing some training, leading new projects, or it may mean moving on next year because there is not much they can offer you. But that’s ok, because you have a plan.
Doing this exercise and having some idea about where I want to go has really helped lessen the anxiety about my career and has made me more invested and focused on my current role. And that can only be a good thing for future job opportunities, right?
I’ve also learnt that building relationships both inside and outside your organisation is so important. Even with those people you wouldn’t necessarily share a pint with at the pub (although you may need to if you want to get ahead). You don’t run a marathon alone, lots of people help you get across the finish line. It’s the same with your career. Investing in people, learning from them and taking their advice helps you not only do the day job but also grow confidence and credibility within your sector. Also - they say around 78 percent of the highest quality candidates come from people referring others.
I’ve also realised that focussing on your current role actually makes you better at it. The longer you’ve been there, the more willingness you show and the more you learn makes you the expert - no one else. More people come to you for advice and support, they have confidence in what you’re telling them and they have greater trust in you and your abilities. This has been one of the biggest reality checks for me - turns out when you know lots about stuff, people want to talk to you about it and take your advice - who would have thought?!
Now you might think, who the hell is this, at age 30 something, thinking she is giving out career advice. And I would agree. I have only had a relatively short career but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one freaking out about where they’re going. So I thought, why not share some of the things that have made a difference to me and helped me calm the f**k down about my career.
To be honest with you, though, I’ve always known I was a rubbish sprinter (coming last in the under-12 girls’ 100 metres should have been the sign), so a marathon suits me just fine.
Ali Neyle is Head of Strategic Communications at the Nursing and Midwifery Council – connect with her Twitter at @AliNeyle
image via the National Science and Media Museum