5 Career Lessons I learned


Avoid vague or unclear stories

When you’ve been in the workforce or active as a freelancer for several years, chances are you’ll sooner or later deal with a company or client who presents a vague message during a job interview/first client meeting.

As the job interview shouldn’t be a one way street, it is a good idea to ask questions about the company that (potentially) wants to employ you. They want to know who you are, so it’s only fair for you to know who you’ll be working for.
The answers you receive should be clear, if not ask the interviewer to elaborate. For instance: if a company or the person that represents them during a meeting is unable to sum up some of the company’s achievements, and/or the organisation’s track record is not available (online) then consider if this is the right working relationship for you or not.

A good manager is golden

A good manager is like an umbrella: if you do your work well and respect your manager he or she should have your back. You can make each other’s work lives a bit easier. Good, or even great managers will listen to your suggestions and provide experience based feedback and…lead by example.

Listen to your head and your heart

I often read and hear about people who feel fed up with their current work situation. Often it’s not so much the specific tasks people perform, but anything ranging from a lack of support, too much pressure, chaos on the work floor, or unreasonable (internal)clients.
I’ve been in a similar situation,at such a moment it can feel as if all you want to do is take a (very) long break. Asking for advice from someone with experience and/or a very keen insight can help. This can be a close friend or a co-worker you can trust.
Having a frank conversation or meeting with your manager about what’s bothering you is the first step. I find it helpful to make a list of topics I want to discuss in such a case, and to draft a few suggestions for improvements. If the situation does improve that’s good news, and a weight can fall off your shoulders.
However, should there be no noticeable changes even after you repeatedly discussed the obstacles you might feel that your talents could be put to better use elsewhere. You decide when the cons outweigh the pros.

Being Taken Seriously

Behaving as somebody who is serious, trustworthy and stable matters when it comes to engaging in business. For me, telling a nice story and appearing as somebody friendly don’t quite cut it when deciding if it’s a good plan to work together. Whether you are the one who’s recruiting, or the party that applies for a job: check if a persons or a company’s reputation is solid.
If you want to gain a better understanding about how you or your business are being perceived, reading up on Personal Branding (or following an online course about that topic) can be an interesting option. Asking other professionals for constructive criticism about their perception of your (personal) brand can provide insight as well.

The importance of lifelong learning

Times change, products change, software changes, new generations keep arriving…

This is why keeping up with those changes by continuous learning is important. In some situations it’s even crucial; Do you remember when you were fresh out of college (or had just completed another learning path) ? I sure do remember, because college didn’t quite prepare me for that first job. There was so much information that could only be found by learning on the job.
A few years later I changed my career path by doing a communications internship, which meant learning a lot of new things about social media for a non-profit organisation and about CMS in general. This was unavoidable in order to work in communications, and it gave me the necessary skills to start my own blog.
Another way to sharpen those skills is by online learning, through a platform like LinkedIN learning for instance. I’ve heard mentions of Skillshare as well (but haven’t tested that one personally).
I would like to end this article with a quote by Matt D’Avella (film maker and podcaster). In his podcast the ground up show (nr 68) he mentions that “there’s almost a myth of job security […] when in reality, the only kind of security you can have is to be incredibly talented and valuable to the economy”. Food for thought indeed…

*image by Rawpixel


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