Three Pieces of Killer Career Advice I Wish I Learned Sooner


Written by Serena Matter

Everywhere you look, you can find someone offering yet another recommendation for achieving career success – but you’ve likely never heard the advice I’m about to share. These three pieces of unconventional wisdom led to pivotal shifts in my career, and my hope is they will have a similar impact on yours.

#1: Don’t take “no” for an answer

Once upon a time, I applied for a job that I was a perfect fit for, only to feel crushed when I wasn’t hired. A friend pointed out to me that the company hadn’t said “no” outright; they simply said they wouldn’t be pursuing my application, which seemed rather ambiguous. Since I was an ideal candidate, I didn’t want to let the opportunity go so easily. At my friend’s suggestion, I offered my writing services to the company pro bono, in order to show them how passionate I was about working for them. After a few weeks of pro bono writing, they reached out and offered me a different -- and even better -- position!

The takeaway: If you find a career opportunity that you can’t bear to let slip through your fingers, don’t just accept “no” and move on. Whether it’s asking for feedback or staying in touch with the hiring manager so you remain top of mind when another position opens up, persistence and determination can open doors you didn’t even know existed.

#2: Feel the fear, then do it anyways

Confession time: I’ve always disliked taking risks, which caused me to stay in a toxic work environment for far too long. But I reached a point where I had become so unhappy that I couldn’t let the fear keep me in the role any longer. So when an opportunity arose to leave my stable job for a temporary three month contract role, I decided to go for it. The prospect of accepting such a short-term position was scary, but I knew I had to push through the fear. The reward for taking a leap of faith? My temporary role turned into a two year position!


The takeaway: Fear is an emotion stemming from our evolutionary instincts for survival. You don’t want to ignore it and if you’re contemplating a career decision, you should definitely listen to what the fear is trying to tell you. However, you shouldn’t let it stop you from pursuing something you feel strongly about. So feel the fear, then do it anyways!

#3: Only take advice from people who have what you want

Some time back, I was facing a major dilemma: remain in a role that wasn’t the right fit or make the move to become self-employed. I knew being my own boss would ultimately make me much happier, but some of my family members were quick to point out that with an unstable economy, it would be safer to stay where I was until things improved. Around that time, I came across the most fitting quote: only take advice from people who have what you want. While I respected the opinions of these important people in my life, I also knew that they didn’t have the kind of career I wanted. Recognizing this, I felt emboldened to make working for myself a reality. This was among the best decisions I have ever made, and it has brought me ultimate career satisfaction.

The takeaway: While people usually have the best of intentions when offering you their opinion about your current circumstances, it’s important to take their advice with a grain of salt. Don’t let comments deter you from a direction you feel compelled to pursue. You’ll find more value in listening to people who have the kind of career you admire and want for yourself.

Looking for more career advice? Check out our tips on how to land a job at a startup, how to launch a fashion brand online, and how to build career resolutions.

Jenny Shulamite