Special Counsel’s President Laurie Chamberlin wrote a post that made me think about what lessons I’ve gleaned from my career. As many of you know, I began my career in public relations and advertising, and founded a staffing and recruiting company as a subject matter expert in those fields.
Laurie’s top ten lessons include taking every task seriously and owning up to your mistakes. I agree these are valuable life and work priorities. My list looks a bit different perhaps because I work with clients to hire the best fit for the job, and that means I know not only what I’ve found useful in my career but also what companies absolutely love to see in candidates.
Top Four Career Success Priorities
- Be honest. In everything you do professionally, tell the truth. This means don’t fudge on your resume, don’t hide behind the mistakes of the last person who did the job, don’t take home company pens, don’t blame someone else for your mistakes. Doing each task completely is honest, as is consistently showing up on time. Telling colleagues when you need more from them is honest. In your every professional and personal interaction, tell the truth. Fully and completely. This incorporates taking responsibility for mistakes and moves into a realm where clients and employers want to do business with you because they know they can trust you.
- Be thoughtful. Thoughtful is not synonymous with nice or kind, though I personally value those qualities. Thoughtful is entirely about being deliberate with your actions and words. Measure the worth of telling someone what you know with their need to know it and the potential effect of that knowledge. Decide whether the information you have benefits someone else, and if it does, share it. Hoarding information or knowledge can hurt your inherent worth in a team, but so can sharing information that will hurt the team or a colleague. Constructive feedback is at once honest and thoughtful because it’s intended to make someone you think has inherent worth into someone who does even better work. It takes thought to ensure they hear what they need from criticism, so word feedback thoughtfully.
- Be prepared. So many qualities we value in our associates and colleagues come down to preparedness. Being ready ahead of time means you’re prompt, have read the background information you need, anticipate arguments against your idea or approach, and can join the conversation. Being prepared ensures that you offer your best work because you anticipate as much as you can, stay present in the moment, and have the right resources available. To do this you need to know yourself well enough to know how you do your best work, and know the project well enough to start on the same page as everyone else. If you’re meeting the team for a creative session, have the tools that make you responsive. If you have a job interview, research the company. If you are launching a campaign, know the nuances and triple check your media buys. Do your homework. Practice your presentation. Plan for contingencies. Be. Prepared.
- Be an adult. Almost every success in business and life takes being a grownup. As Laurie’s post says, take responsibility, assume good intent, don’t take the easy way…all of these points come down to things your parents tried to teach you. Be an adult. Show up on time ready to do the job. Be honest and be thoughtful. Remember that you’re part of a team, whether you contract or manage or show up and do your work in a cubicle every day.