Career advice is easy to come by, but good career advice is rare.
From self-help books to career gurus, and even inspirational quotes on social media, job seekers look everywhere for the best career tips to get ahead. Sometimes it’s not just the advice that matters, but who said it, and whether or not you can take the person’s words to heart.
We asked our team of market experts, writers, software engineers, and graphic designers about their favorite career advice stories and what advice helped them land the jobs they have here at TopResume.
Mike Kozlow, Digital Marketing Manager
“I received this advice from my aunt when I first began thinking about what college I wanted to attend after high school.
I told my family that I was interested in going to college to study law because I thought I would be good at arguing at a trial (since I was so naturally talented at arguing with my mother). My aunt took me aside after that first conversation and she spent time talking to me about whether or not I should study law.
She told me not to focus on something because I was good at it, but instead find a way to use what I’m good at in a field that I was truly passionate about. Her advice really helped and I ultimately decided to study business at the University of Pennsylvania, where I found my niche in marketing. Since then, I’ve used my verbal skills to improve campaigns and challenge my co-workers' assumptions.”
Todd Goldstein, EVP of Business Development
“The best career advice I ever heard was ‘Find your passion, do what you love and don’t worry about the money, it will follow.’ I’ve always lived by this, putting both feet into any job opportunity. Life is short. If you’re not happy at your job, go find another one. Find an industry you want to be connected in every day.
In 2006, I decided I was no longer passionate about being a recruiter and I started on a new path in online recruitment and building job websites. I learned how to do basic programming and online marketing. The work was engaging, and I was passionate about growing and scaling an online business. I wasn’t sure if anything would come out of it at first but I loved what I was doing and I didn’t let anything stand in my way.”
Marco Chang, Senior Software Engineer
"‘Don’t let your lack of confidence get in the way of moving forward and taking on challenges.’ It’s advice that I came up with myself actually, during my first programming job for a satellite telecommunications company.
I was still in college at the time and I don't think they understood the difference between how much experience I had vs. someone who had been working for years in programming, so the level of responsibility they gave me felt like a Director of Technology position.
I would sit in meetings with all the executives and would be expected to come up with ideas on the spot based on the challenges that came up, and to articulate how my solutions would work.
I never let my skill levels dictate the solutions I proposed because I didn't want to sound incompetent. So after each meeting, I would go back to my desk to start researching and reading books. It was intense but very rewarding.
In the two or so years I was there, I think I learned what a normal person would learn in four years. I even hired two kids fresh out of college and I was their manager! If I had said ‘No, I can't do this ... I haven't learned that in college yet’ I think I would have been replaced with someone more senior.”
Emily Richardson, Sales and Customer Support Associate
“The best career advice I received was from a college professor who talked about this three-circle career diagram. First, draw a circle and write inside your passions. Then draw an intersecting circle that shows fields and tasks you are most skilled at performing in the workplace. Finally, draw a third intersecting circle that shows how you want to work or be paid. The area where all those three circles intersect would show what you should do to be both happy and successful.
It wasn't until recently that I found a job that intersected all three parts. I used to work a nine-to-five [job] in an office and, while I enjoyed the work, I hated being there all day, every day. I felt like I was missing so much of life.
I decided to follow my professor's advice and I took this job working remotely for Talent Inc. while starting my own business. Now my home is my office. This flexibility is what I needed to match all of my three circles.”
Danielle Benson, Marketing Coordinator
“During an informational interview, I was once told, ‘Never run to catch a bus, another one will always be coming.’ At first, I thought it was the worst career advice, especially living in New York City. But I realized that if we are always rushing to catch that bus, we’ll miss what's happening right in front of us. That can make or break you in your career. As a very determined and driven person, remembering to be present and not trying to rush to make something happen when the timing isn't right helps give me balance in work and in life.”
Isabel Stanish, Marketing Copywriter
“My dad told me, ‘Find someone who does what you want to be doing and ask them how they did it.’ It’s a piece of advice that I’ve followed ever since, especially now in my free time. I love the women from Broad City, and they inspired me to get involved in comedy. Following my dad's advice, I signed up for comedy classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. This allows me to talk and work with people who are involved in comedy and it’s how I’ve been able to follow something that I love.
Alex David Makhlin, Sales Associate Team Lead
“My professor and mentor, James Lynch, always told me, ‘Begin with the end in mind.’
The idea is to envision the kind of career and life you would like to have and then actively make decisions that bring you closer to that destination. Sometimes we don't have the luxury to choose beforehand. At those times, we can still try and direct our current situations so that they will help us in the long run. In this way, I try to ‘begin with the end in my mind’ every day.”
Gigi Mostafa, Marketing Designer
“I combined three of my greatest role models’ advice—my mom, Rolling Stone Art Director, Mark Maltais (my former boss), and Michael Jordan—then put my own spin on it to apply it to my life and career. Michael Jordan said, ‘If you do the work, you get rewarded.’ My mom said ‘Trust your gut instinct. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.’ And my former boss said, ‘Don’t be afraid to ask for help!’ He explained that a lot of people think independence is a sign of career success, but no one in a job position of power got there without the support and help of others to develop their career.
All three I follow, and it’s what helped me land the job I have today.”
Jeff Berger, Founder and CEO
“The best advice I received was from a mentor. They said ‘follow your interests and take risks early on in your career.’ Too often, people go down the path of what they think they are supposed to do, as opposed to what they are actually passionate about. Take chances earlier on in your career. As your career or company develop, your risk profile changes. Potential failure will just give you work experience that you didn't have.” Whether it’s tips on how to jump-start your career, or how to make the best impression during an interview, it always helps to turn to advice from someone you can trust. While it can be hard to find the right career path, you can always rely on sage advice if you get lost.
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