Now that I'm no longer active in the workforce, I thought it would be a great time to dole out career advice to those of you who may be newly employed in the business world. Although, I'm sure some (or all) of these would apply to those working in other fields but the world of business is really the one that I know intimately. Below are my top ten pieces of advice.
1. Don't be late, it's annoying
Every office has one. The person who is late arriving to work almost every single day. I know life happens. The bus is going to break down, the train is going to break down, your car is going to break down, it's going to rain and no one's going to remember how to drive and your kid is going to puke on the way to school. But every single freaking day?
When you're late all the time, it gives off the impression that you don't care. And most importantly, if I'm working with you, it's going to annoy me. I can't sign off on this project because I have a question and you're not here and you're not checking your email because you overslept (again) and now you're scrambling to get to work. The boss wants another slide added to the presentation deck (last minute) but you're not here to do it so now I have to put down what I was reviewing in order to prepare a slide which is going to set me back.
2. No one like's a job jumper
Over the past 20 years or so, I've reviewed more resumes than I can count. If the candidate was employed at Company A for two years and then Company B for a year and then Company C for 18 months and then Company D for another two years, that resume most certainly would end up in the online trash bin. Sticking it out for a year or two and then moving on is okay maybe once or twice in your very long career but for every job, no.
3. Have a perfect resume
If your resume contains a typo or grammatical error, I will not consider interviewing you. Review your resume over and over and then when you think it's perfect, give it to five people who have an excellent understanding of the English language and kindly ask them to review it for you.
4. Manage your expectations
Don't ever expect anything, whether it be the good project or a promotion, to be handed to you. You'll need to work hard to prove yourself, unless you're connected or heavily involved in some type of office politics. Look, even when you work your butt off, Bill may still be assigned the interesting work because he's buddies with Jeff, who manages scheduling. (See the next two items should this happen to you.) Your reputation will carry you a long way and eventually (sometimes it takes years) the fakers and people like Bill and Jeff will be found out.
5. Take control of your career path
Know where you want to go, and work with others above you to get there. You need to actively manage your career. I've seen too many people sit back and wait for others to tell them what to do. They have no sense of what they need to do in order to advance and then act surprised when a raise or promotion isn't handed to them.
6. Learn when to be the squeaky wheel
You don't want to march into your manager's office each week with a list of complaints but there will come a time when you'll need to speak up for yourself. Learn how and when to do this. It will carry more weight if you are known as the person who hardly ever complains.
7. Learn to efficiently multi-task
Let's put it this way - do you want to be known as the person who can only work on one task at a time? Didn't think so.
8. Learn to delegate
In order to advance in your career, you'll need to learn how and what to delegate to those in positions you manage. This is important because you can't do it all and you need to show those above you that you can take on more difficult work.
9. Understand the office culture and politics
If everyone eats lunch at their desks do you want to be the one person who disappears for an hour to work out at the gym? And then spend an additional 30 minutes eating lunch at your desk. Each office environment is different. Take time to observe the culture and make an effort to fit in.
Office politics can be absolutely brutal and I don't want to encourage anyone to become actively involved but you should, in the very least, understand the politics. For example, Joe, a senior leader, has taken you under his wing and promised to help you advance in your career. But what you need to know is that Joe is close to retiring, the other leaders don't take him seriously and he's really just hanging around because he golfs with Bill, who holds an important position within the company.
10. Be nice, and honest
I grew up in public accounting, which is a tough place to work. Because of those early years spent working and advancing in that environment, I expect a lot out of those I work with. This doesn't equate to being mean, but sometimes people get the two confused. If you have a tough manager, be sure to make a connection with her and understand what she expects from you. Don't automatically assume that she is mean.
Be nice to everyone. And this doesn't mean giving out good raises and promotions. Sometimes people get the two confused. Have a pleasant attitude. It will go a long way.
And don't ever lie. EVER.