5 Inconvenient Truths about your career

Nancy Anderson
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Some of the most valuable career advice can be hard to accept. The world of work is not always easy, and it’s not often what we expect it to be when we first start working after school – there are some tough realities and bumps in the road that we all have to face as we adapt and learn and grow over the course of our careers.

Here are some “inconvenient truths” that I’ve learned over the years in my own career – maybe these will sound familiar to you as well:

1. No one is in charge of your career but you. You cannot rely on a single company or a single manager to create a career path for you. We are all free agents now. No one is going to "discover" you and hand you anything on a silver platter. The only way to get noticed and get hired and get promoted is to take charge of your own destiny and promote yourself. You need to be your biggest fan and best advocate. If you find a great manager who cares about you and wants to help you focus your career energies, that is great – but it’s ultimately up to you to chart a course and find opportunities along the way.

2. Your company doesn't owe you anything. A lot of people say, "I don't like my job." That's a perfectly valid feeling to have, but it's up to you to do something about it. Your company doesn't owe you a stimulating, exciting career - you have to seek it for yourself. You need to prove yourself and be as engaged (and engaging) as possible at every stage of your career, in every job you have. When you develop a reputation as an innovator and an idea-generator, you’ll find yourself getting involved with more interesting projects.
3. The only job security is what you create for yourself. The old idea of “job security” is obsolete – no individual job position is secure for long; the only security is your own excellent performance and your own ability to adapt to change. Back in the "old days," you could get a job right out of high school (or college) and stay with that same company for your entire life. Not anymore. It's becoming increasingly common for people to change careers 10 times over the course of their working lives. This is neither a good thing nor a bad thing, it's just reality. The biggest benefit of a less secure work world is that we all have more freedom and variety – we can create our own careers instead of being limited by a job description.
4. We are all in the marketing business now. No matter what your job title, you need to think like a marketer when managing your career. You need to toot your own horn to get noticed and get promoted - it's inescapable. Staying quiet and working hard in your cubicle is not a recipe for success - it's a recipe for not getting fired, but that is not the same thing as success.
5. Relationships matter more than knowledge and skills. The people who get ahead – who get promoted, who become leaders, who feel the most satisfied with their jobs – tend to be “people” people. They’re the ones who know how to engage others and build strong working relationships. Technical skills are important, but they’re only one piece of the puzzle. You’re better off with average technical skills and outstanding people skills than the other way around.

Ben Gran is a freelance writer based in Des Moines, Iowa. He is an award-winning blogger who loves to write about careers and the future of work.

Here’s a convenient truth – you can find engineering job listings at http://www.engineer-jobs.com/

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