The Best Career Advice Ever Received is a very common headline. Sites like The Muse and Forbes have featured several variations on this theme. Everyone seems to have their favorite piece of career advice. I received my best career advice ever in 2019. It was unusual, unexpected, and 100% useful. I believe you can benefit from the same information.
After 28 years of working for the same company, I knew it was time to change careers. I was bored. I had a long drive to work. My position had significantly changed and no longer utilized my core strengths.
I looked around the company for various opportunities but saw nothing that enticed me.
The thought of changing jobs was unsettling. I wasn’t a single 25-year old that could pivot and relocate to another state. I had bills, a mortgage, and people who depended on me.
I was working for a good company. But I wasn’t happy, and I felt stuck. At the same time, my health was suffering.
Stress, fatigue, burnout, physical and emotional exhaustion had heightened the effects of my PTSD. I went for therapy. I complained about my health and my job.
My counselor let me vent. She patiently let me talk through my issues. I made progress with PTSD. My home life was better. But my work life remained a drain on my physical, emotional, and mental health.
I remember telling my counselor that I knew nothing I could do to make myself happy or fulfilled at my current job. I knew I had to leave that job. I wasn’t angry when I said this. I felt a sense of peace for the first time in months. I was surprisingly calm.
My coach laughed and said, ” Finally. You got it”. I don’t know if she was aware that she laughed out loud or not. But she had a million-dollar smile. She knew that this was a breakthrough for me.
I commended her for her patience in letting me work it out. Changing jobs had to be my decision. Even if it had been evident for months to her and everyone else I knew.
What Was The Best Career Advice I Ever Received?
It was then that she gave me the best career advice I ever received. She said, “Every job you ever have will someday end. No position is permanent. Every career is in transition. How you prepare for the inevitable change makes all the difference.”
Jobs Are Temporary And Will Someday End.
Either by your own choice or someone else’s, your current job will end.
- You might be fired, downsized, or furloughed.
- Your company might go bankrupt and close.
- You might retire due to age or health issues.
- You might go into business for yourself.
- You might be in your dream job with fantastic compensation and job satisfaction.
But whatever your current job is, it will someday end.
The news that your current job will someday end will either depress you or bring you great joy. It can be a sobering realization that a career you built is coming to an end.
I felt a mixture of sadness and joy when I gave my notice at work. But I know that it was the right thing to do. I do not regret leaving. My only regret is that I did not do it sooner.
If All Jobs Are Temporary, How Do We Prepare?
Two suggestions are applicable when you are looking for a job while employed.
First, you need to continue to work hard at your current job while you pursue other opportunities. Sometimes it is apparent that you will have to change careers. You might have a long commute, a conflict between company policy and your ethics, or the compensation is not enough to meet your financial obligations. You might have an unresolvable conflict with your boss or outgrew the position.
When individuals decide to change jobs, I have observed two extreme responses. The first individual will take no action. Like a deer in the headlights, they can not move. The second individual will throw themselves into the job search and let their performance suffer. And in doing so, they have become the instrument of their destruction.
There are benefits to maintaining a level of performance while looking for another job. If you find a better opportunity, you leave on good terms, with a stable job reference for the future. If your new position doesn’t work out, you have left an open path to return. If you don’t find a better employer, you have not made yourself vulnerable by not performing at your current job.
The old axiom is still valid, “It is easier to find a new job if you have a job.” So be careful about burning bridges. If at all possible, leave on good terms.
Second, continuing to build your network is a necessity. You can locate a job. But the best jobs are located through relationships over time.
I have found this to be true in my own life. Knowing someone did not get me the job. But knowing someone helped me to see the company culture and opportunities that were not yet public knowledge.
I know that you may have encountered individuals who networked for the single goal of bettering themselves. Their relationships were superficial, and you were left feeling used and abused by every interaction with them. They stalked you on Facebook and LinkedIn for your list of contacts.
You don’t want to become them, and you don’t have to.
You can be an unselfish networker.
You can determine that your purpose in networking will be different. It will be about helping others in their careers. You will meet some incredible people. Sometimes the friendships you make will last a lifetime. If, and when, these individuals advance, they may remember you when an opportunity for your skillset is available.
In the meantime, you can remind yourself that what you are offering has value to others. They have a need, and you can be that solution. To withhold information about yourself when you could help someone else is not humility but selfishness.
Call to action.
Where are you on your career journey? Are you content, complacent, or miserable? In the current environment, you may need to follow the best career advice I ever received. Do you have a plan in place for when your temporary job will end? If not, why not start today?