Parents are known for delivering classic career advice such as “Do what you love” and “Dress on the same level as your boss.” But what advice has served you best in your career?
A few of our readers recently shared the career wisdom they carry with them:
• Don’t shy away from the unknown. “If you don’t know how to do something, admit it, but then offer to learn. I’ve learned so many things over the years by my willingness to try something new,” says admin Claudia.
This may be as simple as informing a manager that you don’t know how to do a task but would love to learn.
She gleaned the advice from her first manager 30 years ago—at Burger King. “He also taught me to speak up if I’m not busy, so that I can help others. The combination of these two lessons has always stayed with me and has awarded me time and again,” Claudia says.
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• Always have a plan. Admin Jane says her parents counseled her, many years ago, to learn whatever was necessary, “so that I would always be able to take care of myself, support myself, and not be forced into any situations where I would have to rely on someone else to ‘take care of me.’”
Because she excelled in office administrative skills, she went into that field, and she is now celebrating 35 years of working with the same company. “I love my work as an executive assistant and have never regretted my choices,” she says.
• Take pride in whatever you do. Fresh out of school, in her new secretary job, one admin (who prefers to remain anonymous) was told to avoid the executive secretary, whom no one else in the office liked.
But, she says, “We became friends. She mentored me and taught me a lot of great things.
“The one thing that sticks out in my mind is ‘Don’t do something for the sake of doing it; do it with pride, as it is a reflection upon who you are.’ I use that in every aspect of my life, and people know they can count on me to get the job done correctly the first time.”
• It’s easier to edit than it is to write. “I’ve never been discouraged when people mark things up, but I’m rather surprised when they don’t,” says admin Joyce, who first heard those words 30 years ago.
“I make sure I pass the message on when I’m supervising or mentoring, so the writer knows his efforts are appreciated.”
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• Almost nothing is as important as maintaining relationships. Good advice admin Sher received: “The president of our division told me ‘15% of your success in business will be determined by your knowledge of the business, and 85% of your success will be determined by the relationships you form.’”
• Don’t let the haters get you down. One admin, Debbie, says that of all the advice she’s heard over the years, these words from her parents stand out: “Never apologize for doing a good job.”
• There’s always room for improvement. When admin Dusty was a freshman in high school, she received an ‘A’ in the Junior ROTC program. But her instructor wrote in the comments section, “Needs improvement.”
“This freaked me out,” she says, “so I went to speak with my instructor about it. I asked him, ‘What can I improve if I already have an A?’ He looked at me with a knowing smile and said, ‘There’s always room for improvement.’
“That was 20 years ago and I have always carried that with me, even to my administrative assistant job in the mayor’s office.”
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