We often get to our first workplace straight from the university bench and, naturally, bring with us the rules according to which we were “evaluated” during our studies. If you learned the material you get an A, if you didn’t, you get an F. We are young, smart, ambitious, and full of energy, we only have to work hard, and success is just around the corner. But sooner or later we begin to realize that diligence and talent are not enough to build a successful stable career.
Always Choose your first job wisely. This is your most important strategic decision. It is the first company you choose which will set the vector for your entire career. Don’t rush to be tempted by the highest salary or leadership of the company in the market. Leadership can be short, and the highest starting salary can be stuck at the same level for years. Better pay good attention to how does the employer company perceives growth: professional, personal, financial. Determine its values and understand whether they are compatible with yours. And estimate how much greater leap in the development of your career you are able to do here in the next couple of years.
We must accept the truth that no one is responsible for your career growth. Only you are. It’s great if your leader cares about your development and you have something to learn from him. But he is not your dad, not your guru, not your psychotherapist or coach. You have long been out of school and the boss, unlike teachers, has no curriculum for you. The same applies to project managers or account managers of your company. They do not have to plan your development. You are just a resource, an instrument in the mechanism of the company. And this is not a cruel truth, it’s wonderful news. After all, if the entire responsibility for building your career is on you, then all the success you achieve is only yours and only you decide how high you can fly.
One must learn how to accept criticism. Remember that criticism is your best friend, not the end of the world, as it’s gonna feel in the beginning. Every time your efforts are evaluated critically, you have a choice – to lock yourself up or to listen and to grow. In order to perceive remarks without pain and use them for development, learn to take a break and remind yourself that they criticize only your work, and not you as a person.
We must become our own sales manager. Figure out what kind of product are you, what your strengths and weaknesses are, what makes you particularly attractive and how can you sell yourself. Sell your ideas, your opinion, your projects and yourself as a professional. Do not necessarily do it loudly and aggressively, find your style and way to tell about yourself.
Take care of yourself. A career is not a sprint, it’s a stayer’s distance. And the worst thing that you can do is to spend all the energy in the first couple of years, to burn out and hate your work even before you start moving up in your career. Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep, don’t forget to eat your lunch, do sports, relax and spend time with your loved ones. A night without sleep finishing your report can bring you one compliment from your boss. But it will reduce your productivity for the whole week.
Stay a human. In a career, just like in old fairy tales, it’s so important to treat kindly (meaning professionally) all the characters that you will meet on your way. After all, in the first place, you never know whose help or recommendation you will need one day. And secondly, your fame as a specialist, even if you have learned how to amazingly sell yourself, still consists not only and not so much of your words about yourself, but also of the facts told about you during smoking breaks or at the lunch of your colleagues. Be professional in everything and with everyone. Believe us, this approach will start paying dividends sooner than you think.