Career advice comes in many different forms, and from a variety of sources (including your mother). If you are not careful, the advice flying at you can become overwhelming at the least and career damaging in the extreme. Having listened to a good amount of this advice being given and acted upon for several years now, there are five career myths that need to be debunked before they derail your professional growth.
- Working for an organization with a clear career path is important – Organizations that have set career paths for employees can actually limit your career growth. It artificially limits what you can do for your company. What you need are career options. You have to be able to see the whole field in front of you and choose the next step that best fits where your strengths and interests can be best utilized.
- What you know is more important than who you know – This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Sure, your education and skill set are important and they probably got you your first position. Once you begin to explore what’s next for you, the importance of your network becomes a critical piece of the puzzle. Build and maintain productive professional relationships at every step of the way.
- Your work will speak for itself – Great work goes unnoticed on a daily basis. You have to have an advocate who can showcase your good work and often times that advocate is you. Don’t be shy about speaking up and letting people know about your accomplishments.
- You have to be promoted to be a leader – My favorite myth of all time. Look around your office. Take notice of the number of people who are taking time to teach, share information, and coach. I think you’ll find that many of those people are not managers with formal authority. Your organization expects you to start contributing through others at some point in your career, and it’s often before you ever get promoted. If you wait for the promotion, you are too late.
- The good job assignments go to the same people over and over again – While it’s true that some managers and supervisors have employees that they return to repeatedly when they have an important assignment, it’s easier than you think to get added to that list. Some people can take any assignment and make it stand out with stellar performance. Your job is to take every assignment given to you and meeting or exceeding expectations. The faster you build a track record of being able to take a task and independently getting it done, the faster you will find yourself on that list of “go to” employees.
Remember that at the end of the day, the person that cares the most about your career success is you. You have to be the one that plans for your individual development and chooses the assignments that help prepare you for your next job.