The Best Career Advice I ever Received


No matter where you are in your career, it always helps to have a mentor, boss, or trusted colleague from whom you can learn. And while you’ve probably heard your share of advice, we Fools believe that there’s no such thing as too much guidance. That’s why we’re here to share the best career advice we’ve ever been privy to — and how it has helped us get to where we are today.

Do what you love

Daniel B. Kline: My grandfather built a very successful business that employs hundreds of people to this day. He was not a warm and fuzzy man, but he was supportive in an indirect way. So, instead of hugs or verbal support, I got a lot of critique of my pool and candlepin bowling game.

When I entered the working world, however, my grandfather never expected me to follow in his footsteps. Instead, he was supportive of me as a writer and talked about how he had to pursue the direction he did while I could follow my dreams.

He never directly said “do what you love,” but he implied it when talking about things he wished he could pursue. He also showed a willingness to support non-traditional careers as he served as a patron for my uncle, a lifelong artist, and my aunt, who danced before moving into business.

It was never a direct lesson. Instead, by not scolding me or telling me I was making a mistake, I always felt I was being told that following my passion was the way to go. And I’m happier for it today.

My grandfather, meanwhile, is no longer with us — he’s been gone for over 20 years. As a parent myself now, I know that while I hope my son achieves financial success, I’m more hopeful that he finds a job he loves where work never feels like work.

Don’t aim for perfection

Selena Maranjian: One of the best bits of career advice I ever received wasn’t really career advice. It came from an older relative who was talking about relationships when he said, “Don’t look for someone perfect. If you find someone who’s 80% perfect, that’s good!” That kind of thinking can serve you well in your career, too.

For starters, don’t knock yourself out looking for the perfect job as that can be very hard or impossible to do. If you find a job in a field of interest with good pay, chances for advancement, and friendly coworkers, that might be good enough — even if it offers a long commute or so-so benefits. Likewise, a job near your home with great benefits and satisfactory compensation might be good enough, too.

Sometimes, we balk at applying for jobs that look great to us because we don’t feel perfect enough for them. Tone down that tendency, if you have it. You don’t have to be a perfect fit for a job, and most applicants probably won’t be perfect, either. If you’re missing certain experience or a particular skill, you might still make up for that in other ways.

Few jobs are perfect, and many people in various jobs aren’t perfect for their positions, either. No matter what you do, just keep learning (such as by asking questions and reading) as it can make you better at your job — and better suited for other, more lucrative or satisfying jobs, too.

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