Career advice abounds. One quick Google search and you’ll have days of reading to keep you busy. But how much of that sage advice is really all that practical? Sure, we all know showing up on time, without a mustard stain on our shirt is probably a good plan. But what happens when you’ve landed the job, cycled through your best power outfits, and run out of witty elevator talk?
Not to worry, I’ve got you covered. Whether you work for an investment bank, a nonprofit, or a movie studio, there are some things that are just universal, yet hardly anyone ever seems to mention. Keep reading and prepare to rock your job like a pro.
- Say “I Don’t Know”
Nobody wants to look ignorant, but all of us fit the bill at some point in our lives. And let me tell you, nothing annoys a manager or colleague more than someone who has an answer to everything. Here’s a surprise tip: no one thinks you know everything, all the time.
Guess what that means? You’re allowed to ask questions! You’re allowed to not know. In fact, it can sometimes be an even bigger career faux pas to not admit your ignorance and scramble for the answers than to simply admit you don’t know.
The key is to not know, but still have potential solutions.
Repeat after me: Not knowing how to do something is not a sin. Not knowing the answer is not a sin. Now, go forth and learn something.
- Ditch the Confidence
Being humble can go a long way. Show me someone who really, really loved that colleague who just oozed ego? Having a bit of confidence is obviously key, but don’t overdo it – especially if you’re starting out. While you may know you’re the bee’s knees, your colleagues need to figure that out on their own and trust me, no amount of chest puffing and fancy talk will convince them.
In fact, what impresses best is a healthy dose of humility. Admit when you don’t understand a concept, and most importantly, ask someone who does know to show you how it’s done. Nothing wins someone over faster than showing you can learn from their expertise. Keep your confidence to yourself – at least a little bit – and you’ll find you have a whole office full of fans, cheering you on to your next promotion.
- Have a Personal Life
There’s this little concept called “work-life balance” that everyone who’s ever had a career likes to talk about, but rarely ever achieves. But when first starting out, many eager, hungry, employees, sacrifice their social calendar in service to the man. Big mistake. Understanding – and enforcing –boundaries between work and personal life is more a habit than a corporate benefit. In other words, if you want balance, you have to practice it from day one.
If you go to the gym every Tuesday and Thursday at 5pm, then stick to that. Come back to the office to finish up if you need to, but don’t start nixing the things in your life that make you happy and healthy. It’ll be awkward at first, but I promise you, five, and especially 10 years down the road, you’ll be glad you established this habit. After all, if you can’t have a healthy life outside the office, what good will you be when you get there?
You’ll have no shortage of advice throughout your career, but know that the tips you choose to heed will help shape your career – and your success. Take the road less traveled every once in a while, and you’ll set yourself up for many years of job satisfaction, and an endless stream of adoring colleagues and managers.
I’m compensated by University of Phoenix for this blog and as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Author Bio: Ryan Kahn is founder of The Hired Group, career coach on MTV’s “Hired,” and creator of the “How To Get Hired”online course.