15 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Career

Do you ever wish you could impart knowledge on your younger, less experienced self? Of course you can’t go back in time, but the “what if's” will linger. Where would you be now if you’d done things differently?

Before I started writing this blog post, I jotted down some things that I personally wish I’d done right out of college. Then, it dawned on me that my coworkers undoubtedly have great points to contribute as well, especially because their experiences are diverse. I went to each member of my team and asked them to give their two cents. Before I knew it, we were all having a pow-wow, sharing anecdotes and advice. And that’s how this compilation of tips was born.

Here, the Responsive Inbound Marketing team will offer career advice—born of our own experience—so that you can move forward and inspire continued success. Ready to get real?[bctt tweet="15 things to know before your start your career, by @RspnsvInbndMktg"]

1. Be self-assured:

Stop second-guessing yourself and your abilities. Remember that you’re in your role for a reason—you are very capable, maybe even more than most. This doesn’t mean that you should present as overconfident, but you should definitely not come across to your colleagues as timid. Being a professional means showing that you’re strong, so keep doing what you do with confidence.[bctt tweet="Stop second guessing your abilities—you're in your role for a reason - @RspnsvInbndMktg"]

2. Speak up:

A successful person isn’t afraid to speak up! Never hesitate to ask questions or voice your opinion. The fear of embarrassment or rejection often hinders employees from partaking in discussions; however, when you remain silent, you actually come across as uninterested or lacking ideas. You have something good to say, so simply say it.

3. Don’t make it personal:

You’ve heard this one before, but it can be tough to adhere to. Work is work and business is business—but what if your work and your business mean a lot to you?

Although it’s fantastic to think of every piece you contribute as “your baby,” businesspeople need to develop thick skins in order to effectively take criticism. It’s really all mental: if a client or supervisor dishes out some harsh feedback, think of this as fuel to drive your improvement. If you let these types of situations make you feel angry or defeated, surprise: you’re human—but you have the power to control your emotions and maintain a mature business persona.[bctt tweet="Make harsh feedback a good thing—use it to drive your improvement, says @RspnsvInbndMktg"]

4. Your job shouldn’t feel like a job:

If you go to work every day, perform the same old tasks apathetically, and run out the door at the stroke of 5pm, chances are that you’re not thrilled with your situation. Your “job” (career/passion/vocation) should thrill you in that it shouldn’t feel like work. Do something that you genuinely enjoy. If you’re on your way to your construction job and you feel eager to start constructing, you love what you do.[bctt tweet="If you're apathetic about your work, you should be in a different job - @RspnsvInbndMktg"]

5. Don’t base your happiness on your paycheck:

While a healthy salary pays the bills, it doesn’t mean everything. Of course you should vie for pay that fairly rewards your experience, skill-set, and workload, but a lot of hardworking professionals have to wait this out. Especially in the startup environment, companies go through ups and downs and even the most essential employees have to deal with the financial consequences of that. If you believe in your organization and are willing to push through the hard times, the level of fulfillment you’ll realize at the end of the day will be worth far more than a cushy paycheck in a position you don’t truly care about.[bctt tweet="Believe in your org + push through hard times. This brings job fulfillment. - @RspnsvInbndMktg"]

6. Accept a job for the right reasons:

Remember that it’s not worth it to accept just any job—especially if your deciding factors lack validity. Maybe the company culture seems cool and fun but the position isn’t an ideal fit for you. In that case, don’t take the job. Awesome happy hours and holiday parties mean very little in the grand scheme of things, while properly exercising your talents is crucial.

7. Find a mentor:

Finding a mentor to provide you guidance can be greatly beneficial. Confiding in a friend/teacher’s expertise will open your eyes to what it’s really like in the field. This mentoring relationship will tell you all of the not-so-great things about your desired career path – which you should definitely be aware of.

Check out 6 Hacks to Attract Life-Changing Mentors for some great, tactical advice on developing these relationships.[bctt tweet="Seek #mentorship that can tell you hard truths about your career path, says @RspnsvInbndMktg"]

8. It’s okay to make mistakes:

As you know, everyone makes mistakes – so remind yourself that making a mistake is not the end of the world by any means. If you’re not dealing with a life-or-death situation, your errors at work shouldn’t keep you up at night. Of course mistakes are regrettable, but you can always still work with what you’ve got—and that means more chances to do better.[bctt tweet="Mistakes are regrettable, but what matters is what you do moving forward - @RspnsvInbndMktg"]

9. Remain highly organized:

It is always in your best interest to be super organized. Utilize project management tools to stay on track and simplify your processes. Organize your desk, your calendar, and even your briefcase and your work will reflect that.

10. Network with a community:

It’s a great idea to become part of a community and network regularly. Find a niche that interests you and immerse yourself in that scene. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should attend every networking event you hear about; effective connecting happens when you foster relationships in your network through genuine outreach.

Read 10 Networking Tips for Finding Your Way to a Job You Love for networking etiquette and pro tips.[bctt tweet="Find a niche that interests you + immerse yourself, says @RspnsvInbndMktg"]

11. Improve Your communications skills:

Having exceptional communications skills can open new doors for you, so consider taking classes to spruce up your writing and verbal proficiencies. No matter what industry you’re in, effective communication can make all the difference, so it’s worth spending time on.

12. Know how to prioritize:

Effective prioritizing is like time management with a savvier edge. You’re bound to be crazy busy at some point, so prepare to prioritize the right way to decrease stress and continue cranking out superb work. You’ll always get done what needs to get done.[bctt tweet="Effective prioritization is #timemanagement with a savvier edge, says @RspnsvInbndMktg #priorities"]

13. Don’t get comfortable:

If you’ve been working at a job for a few years, remember that you don’t always have to work there. If you’re really comfortable with where you’re at, you may feel relaxed, but you’re not furthering your career growth. You shouldn’t feel okay with being a “nobody in a cube” forever – you’re more than that. Make it a point to regularly evaluate where you’re at and seriously contemplate if you’d be better off doing something else.[bctt tweet="If you're very comfortable in your job, it may be time for a new job - @RspnsvInbndMktg "]

14. Think ahead:

It’s easy to get caught up in your daily tasks at work, but your career won’t happen if you’re living day-by-day. Instead, always think about what it’ll take to get to the next step you’re working toward. Look up from your paperwork and look ahead. In order to get to where you ideally want to be, you need to think strategically and do all that it takes to get there, every day.

15. Never stop pushing yourself:

Being complacent or unmotivated will stunt your growth. Never stop pushing yourself. Try new things, remain challenged, and don’t just wait around for things to happen. You’re ultimately the only one who can make your dreams come true, so be proactive and work hard. This is easier said than done, as advice from other people often doesn’t make the real impact. Your best motivator is yourself, so make your own decisions and do what’s truly best for you.[bctt tweet="Try new things, remain challenged + don’t wait around for things to happen, says @RspnsvInbndMktg"]

We hope that you’ve been able to relate to or learn from these fifteen tips. Keep them top-of-mind as you continue your never-ending and admirable journey toward success. You shouldn’t regret past decisions; instead, you should consider the possibilities, share your wisdom with those less seasoned, and start today fresh!

If you're an aspiring marketer at the brink of your career, take a look at our free template to discover skills you should build to grow your career as an inbound marketing superstar.

Photo credit: startupstockphotos.com