Great Pieces of Career Advice No One Ever Told You

From Inc.:

Career advice is in no short supply. In fact, you could probably spend the duration of your working life simply reading through the tips and advice already online. But as in all areas of life, the more common something is, generally speaking, the lower its value.

Many oft repeated truisms are more about wish fulfillment than reality (sorry peddlers of endless, uncritical “follow your passion!” posts). Plus, tips that everyone and their mother (and their college career counselor) knows are unlikely to give you an edge over the competition. So what are the true hidden gems of career advice, the truths that few people are willing to say out loud that can actually transform a mediocre career into a rockstar one?

That’s what a someone on question-and-answer site Quora wanted to know recently, asking: “What are a few unique pieces of career advice that nobody ever mentions?” The community responded with plenty of uncommon, thought-provoking advice.

Doing your job well is not enough.

Being excellent at your job is a surefire way to get ahead, right? Nope, say several responders, including Victor Wong, CEO of PaperG. “Most people assume just doing their current assigned job well is enough–so many associates at law firms think doing all the paperwork and litigation properly is the road to partnership, and many PR account executives think that getting a few articles written about their clients will earn them a promotion,” he writes, but “becoming a principal, partner, or senior executive with P&L-level responsibility requires a completely separate set of skills from entry and mid-level jobs.”

How do you make that leap? “To make the big jump to the next level, they’re really being benchmarked on their ability to deliver future value to the firm in ways that are not taught or explained to them: chiefly how much business are they are able to bring in,” he asserts. “People who can think of what to do and deliver are the ones who ultimately are more likely to get promoted to the top levels.”

Another anonymous poster agrees: “You don’t become a star doing your job. You become a star making things happen.”

Who you work for is hugely important.

We all wish we lived in a world where who you know matters less than what you can do, but that’s often not reality, and not always for unhealthy reasons. Knowing the best in the business often means you’ve worked with the best, and people rightly admire that.

“You don’t have to be passionate about the product you are selling. You don’t have to be in the most glamorous industry. You don’t have to work for the company with the best ‘brand’ identity or reputation in your chosen field,” insists Jeremy Boudinet, director of marketing for startup Ambition. What does matter is who you’ve worked with.

“Few things are as valuable as going and working for somebody that is going to want to teach you anything and everything they know. You’ll experience tremendous personal and professional growth if you have the best person mentoring you,” he says, so “figure out where the absolute best person to work for would be, and go work for them.”

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