They may make it look simple now, but there are a few career lessons that even the best professionals couldn’t have learnt from their Advanced Studies in Philosophy textbook. Fortunately, experience has taught our 24.com staff some valuable career lessons that they’d share with their younger selves, and which you can learn from.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
Making mistakes is the best way to grow and learn. If you’re not making any mistakes you’re not doing enough outside your comfort zone, which in itself is a mistake. Don’t look at your mistakes as failure.
Rather think of them as a means of getting rid of ways that don’t work so you come closer to finding ways that will.
Comparison will kill you
Think about this: When someone asks you how you’re doing, how often do you respond with how you’re really feeling? What people give off is usually not a true reflection of their reality.
Some people hide, while some people lie. So when you compare yourself to others, you’re only viewing what’s presented in front of you and not what happens behind the scenes. And by doing so you’re setting yourself up for a stench of failure. Don’t destroy your happiness, halt your goals or tarnish your dreams because of self-comparison.
Look at opportunities beyond your environment
After landing their first gig, very few people can admit to being fulfilled in their careers. Even if you are one of the lucky few who are, it’s important that you review your career from time to time. There is a world out there that goes beyond the walls of your 9-5. Go out there, explore and build new connections. You’ll never know what’s waiting on the other side.
Don’t be boxed by your job specifications
Sometimes your job will require you to do more than your job description entails, especially when working as part of a team. You need to prove your value to everyone you’re working with and earn your team player stripes. Plus, your job may give you opportunities to do some really awesome things.
Take, Herman Eloff, Online Editor at Channel24 who even though he thought he was signing up for a desk job, had the opportunity to travel overseas. “Last year I travelled to London where I interviewed Jennifer Aniston,” he says.
Don’t worry if you don’t have it all figured out
No matter where you are in your career, it’s okay if you don’t have it all figured out yet. It’s fine if your friends seem to have it together and you don’t. It’s fine if your job isn’t living up to your expectations.
If you were meant to know what tomorrow brings, you’d be living in the future.
There is more to accepting a job offer than what you studied
Pierre Jordaan, Space Station Designer says he wishes someone would have told him not to just focus on his qualification. “I would have liked to be told to look at the bigger picture and think about what a company can do for me and how I can grow.”
These are other things to consider before accepting a job offer:
- Your boss, your team and co-workers. They’ll have an impact on your job satisfaction and happiness.
- The pros and cons of working for a corporation, an agency, a non-profit organization and a start-up are vastly different. Weigh them in and know where you’ll thrive.
- Ask yourself if the company has been operating well in the unstable economic environment. If so, you’re in for a stable job.
- Money doesn’t always equate to happiness. Evaluate what salary you could live with, the amount of hours you’ll work and your commute.
- Pay attention to the feeling you get after walking out of an interview. Your gut will usually hold the truth.
Be as young as you can be for as long as you can be
“In my teens my only worries were ‘oh my gosh, what am I wearing to the party? And ‘oh my word! It’s exam time!’ I’d tell my younger self to get married at 40, have kids maybe at 50 and travel as much as you can.” – *Sarah
8 Lessons to Learn After Being Fired
As you move on to your next job opportunity, take these tips to heart.
After being let go from a job, reflect on what went wrong and how to do things differently in your next job.
Getting fired can be the greatest gift your employer can give you.
Let’s look at the positive side of getting axed. You now have the opportunity to move on and into a new role with a new company doing something you will enjoy. Even if you think you loved your last job, there were things about it that just weren’t working for you. Maybe your compensation wasn’t in alignment with others in your field, or you found yourself in a dead-end job. Or maybe you just didn’t feel challenged anymore.
These things should have been a sign for you to move on. But we get comfortable, and change is difficult. This is why being released from your job can be a blessing in disguise.
Companies let go of employees for many reasons: performance, reorganization, breach of company policies or because they just feel like it. In most cases, an employer can terminate your employment at any time.
Here are eight life lessons you can take away from your separation that will serve you well throughout the rest of your career:
- Find the right fit. This is your chance to interview your future manager and employer with more discerning questions. Use what you’ve learned from your last experience to screen for qualities and characteristics you know you’ll work well with. Be on the lookout for red flags or subtle clues based on answers, behaviours or rumours on the street.
- Don’t make the same mistake. Learn from this valuable life lesson. What was it about your last job that may not have made it a good fit, or what could you do differently when faced with a difficult work situation the next time around? As Winston Churchill said, “All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.”
- Keep your eyes open. Losing a job should also teach you to keep your eyes open to what’s going on inside a company. Are there signs of declining business? Has a key client left or has there been a change in leadership, or a merger or buyout? All of these things generally mean change is coming. When armed with this information, you can begin exploring new opportunities. Also keep an eye on changes inside your company. Signs of future trouble: Your department is in financial trouble or the project you are working on isn’t performing as well as expected. These are clues that you may need to begin putting out feelers for a new job.
- Always be open to new opportunities. If your boss asked you to take on an additional project or more work, how did you respond? This may have been your boss’s way of foreshadowing the need for you to change. While it may seem unfair for a company to ask you to do more, you can also consider it a skill-building exercise that will make you more marketable. You always want to be ready for something new. If you network internally and externally, you increase the number of people who know what you do. This keeps you in people’s minds and helps position you for unposted opportunities.
- Try harder, but there are no guarantees. Even the hardest-working employee is not protected from a layoff. But employees who exceed performance expectations and have good working relationships with managers generally fare better during times of change. It is never too late to try to patch your strained relationship with colleagues or your manager. Take the first step and approach them with the intention of fixing what you can. You’ve got nothing to lose.
- Stay positive. Never talk trash about your former employer, not to anyone. Negativity breeds negativity. Take the high road and try not to cast blame on anyone. Accept responsibility for the things within your control, and focus on the valuable lessons you learned from the situation.
- Move on. Don’t fight it.You don’t want your old job back. It wouldn’t be the same. Whatever changes the organization was facing that led to your separation probably affected the culture or how things got done. And if you were terminated and think you want to fight it, think twice. Would everyone welcome you back with open arms? It is likely that your manager and colleagues would treat you differently if you returned, which could make you feel like you were walking on eggshells. Returning to work at a company that let you go may not work out well.
- Know what you’ll say. The job application will ask you the reason for leaving each job. Keep your answer short and void of emotion or negativity. “Laid off” and “fired” are a popular terms, but both can have a negative connotation. Instead, a better choice is “reduction in force,” or you might be able to use “position eliminated.” You can and should expect to answer why you left your last job on every application and interview. Be ready with an answer that won’t leave the wrong impression with a potential employer.
During a phone screen or interview, keep your answer short and to the point. You don’t need to go into a lot of detail or defend your situation. You may also be able to spin your answer to include why being let go is a positive – perhaps it gave you the opportunity to seek work that is better aligned with your skills or future aspirations.
One last thought: There is a silver lining to losing your job. Positively managing the situation is 100 percent in your court.