There are many lessons people learn throughout their career that, if applied to the early stages of their professional life, would prove to be invaluable. Michael Jones, National Head of Internal Recruitment at Hays, shares advice with jobseekers just staring out in their career, in his Viewpoint blog.
The beginning of a career is a constant learning curve, with a lot of pressure to progress up the career ladder. The experience and knowledge gained throughout a career enhances an individual’s skills and shapes them as a professional.
Michael shares the most valuable lessons he has learnt during his professional life.
Lesson 1: He/She who shouts the loudest doesn’t necessarily get heard
Standing out from your peers in the early stages of a career in order to make a big impression can be difficult. However, simply being the loudest voice in the room adds no value. Michael advises not to forget that you were hired for a very good reason, the company saw qualities in you that appealed to them. Therefore, it is always best to be yourself, identify your weak points and address them. This will, in turn, improve your confidence. Michael adds, “You don’t need to change your personality in order to get ahead, in fact, being authentic to your true self can often propel you even further along in your career because people feel they can trust and relate to you. Being yourself will come more naturally if you are more confident in your ability to progress your career on merit as opposed to a forged persona.”
Lesson 2: Asking questions doesn’t make you look stupid
Raising your hand during a meeting can seem daunting, this is a feeling experienced by most professionals at some point during their career. However, it is important to understand that asking questions, no matter how basic they may seem, is not a weakness. In order to succeed you must have all information available to you. This is regardless of seniority. Even as you progress through your career, you are never too senior or experienced to ask a question. Michael says, “That the most effective and diligent employees ask if they aren’t sure. These people are not scared of asking basic questions or how they may be perceived for doing so. They care more about getting their facts right and doing a good job in the long run.”
Lesson 3: Sharing your knowledge creates a win-win situation
By sharing ideas or information you create a culture of knowledge sharing. However, there can be a point in an ambitious person’s career where they view information as power. Consequently, good ideas go unshared as they choose to keep them close to their chests. Without the sharing of knowledge and best practice there is no opportunity to learn and progress. Michael advises, “There are plenty of opportunities for you to share your knowledge, whether it’s by putting forward an idea during a meeting, adding more input when working on team projects, or running a training session with your team. Talented individuals sharing their ideas, information and experiences can only lead to team success which will reflect well on you in the future.”
Lesson 4: Leadership is not just the domain of senior people
Leadership is a quality rather than a skill – a trait that is exhibited early in a career and prepares people for eventually becoming a leader, as opposed to waiting to become a leader through longevity of service. Being a leader doesn’t just mean sitting in an office and giving orders, but understanding your workforce and how to get your best from them. Michael says, “Remember that if you want to progress further, you will need to demonstrate leadership qualities, including the aforementioned knowledge sharing, leading by example in terms of performance, staying curious and open-minded, and giving praise.”
Lesson 5: Work smarter not longer
That’s what really impresses the boss There may be times where you have to come in early or work slightly later, for instance to speak to global clients who are in a different time zone, completing an important project, or striving towards a sales target. However, stay conscious of maintaining your work life balance, and avoid working late for the sole purpose of impressing your boss. Michael argues what will truly impress the boss is working smarter by making the most of your working hours. Michael adds, “You are more productive with a fresh, clear and rested mind- and productivity impresses the boss. Get some exercise, engage with people outside of your work, take some time out and go back to the office with your batteries recharged.”
Michael summarises by saying, “When you think about it, all of these lessons boil down to being honest and true to yourself. Don’t use insubstantial swagger and bravado to get ahead. Actually, look at the areas in which you need to develop and the questions you need to ask in order to be ready for that promotion. Don’t be scared to show vulnerability by sharing your ideas for the business or even just taking a step back to recharge the batteries. Lastly, understand that your seniors aren’t the only ones who can possess leadership traits, and see which ones you can encompass in order to progress your career.”