Practical Career Advice:
What the Professionals Won't Always Tell You

by Greg Faherty, CPRW
Okay, so you're looking for a new job. Maybe you're unemployed, maybe you're just searching for something better or thinking about changing careers. There is all sorts of information out there to help you in your search, and you're taking advantage of it. You're also making sure you avail yourself of the different professional services available to you, such as career coaching, resume writing, and recruiters.

But there are some things professionals don't always like to talk about, things you don't normally see in the career advice columns on the web or in the newspapers.

So, as we begin the second half of 2010, with tough economic times and a highly competitive employment landscape facing us, let's look at some basic truths that you need to know, truths that hopefully will ease a little of your employment stress.

1. No one can please everyone.  This includes you. So much of your time at work is spent trying to please your boss, or your boss's boss, or your clients, or your co-workers that you can end up feeling exhausted and unfulfilled. All too often, employers and customers only provide feedback that's negative. When things go wrong, you're inundated with messages. When things go right, your phone and e-mail are curiously silent. Worse, people also tend to only remember the negative. Be aware of this, and don't take it personally. Remember, that type of relationship is a reflection of the other person, not you.

2. Your boss won't always be your friend.  You can't decide who you will get along with, and who you won't. Sometimes personalities clash, and sooner or later one of those personalities will be your supervisor. The trick is trying to figure out how to maintain an effective working relationship with someone who in your private life you'd never want to associate with. Odds are, your boss won't be trying to make things work, which leaves it up to you. Rather than complaining, accept the reality of it and treat it as a work problem you need to solve.

3. Only you are in charge of your career.  No one is going to care as much about your career as you do. That means HR, your boss, your co-workers, and recruiters. They are all looking out for their own best interests, which on occasion will match yours, but just as frequently won't. It's up to you to do what it takes to move your career forward.

4. Sometimes getting fired isn't a bad thing.  Most people loathe leaving a job, even a job they hate, because they're afraid of being out of work. However, being fired or downsized can be a good thing, because it forces you to take that next step and find something better. This is especially true for people stuck in dead-end jobs, or jobs they really dislike. If it does happen to you, look at it as an opportunity rather than a failure.

More Practical Advice

  • Communication is key. If you're having a problem getting along with a manager or co-worker, try looking at things from their point of view and see if you can rework your way of communicating so you're on the same page.
  • Your life is more important than your job. Too many people sacrifice their personal lives and even their health for their careers. Remember to keep things in perspective. It's great to make a good living, but you don't want to be someone who looks back in 30 years and feels regret rather than joy.
  • More than 50% of recruiters dislike resumes that are heavy with graphics or fancy fonts.
  • Take responsibility for your career and always be prepared. Keep your resume updated at all times, maintain a network of associates, and keep track of employment trends in your field.