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career advice needed


Hi TZers

I've been commissioned to write a book in the career advice arena and though I have lots of material from my own expereince and from published sources I'd love to hear some ideas from TZ readers.

So what was the best piece of career advice you ever received?


What would be the best advice you would give to someone either starting out or looking to change their career?


What did you ever see or hear that made you really think about your career?

I will endeavour to reply to all responses and I will try to attribute (assuming you don't ask for anonymity) anything that gets included in the final book

You can post answers here or, if you prefer, you can email them direct to me if you'd rather they weren't made public at this stage

I look forward to hearing from you!

Rus Slater

14 Responses

  1. Advice

    Here is your first response Russ and hopefully it will encourage others.

    So what was the best piece of career advice you ever received?

    Not really recieved advice…but advice I used to give when I used to be a Careers advisor for young people. My advice would be that whatever you are doing today doesn’t actually mean you will be doing it in the future. For instance, if you did an Electrical Apprenticeship with NPower (for example) and proved your worth they would fund you through HNC / HND / Degree and Management qualifications so by the time you are 27 you could be a Senior Manager running a department. This, in my opinion is a much better route in todays climate than being a 22 yr old Engineering degree holder with no job and £30000 in debt. The same could be said for many other occupations that might not seem to appealing in the early days…I started out as a Welder.


    What would be the best advice you would give to someone either starting out or looking to change their career?

    Sounds a bit cliched to say "follow your heart" but I made some crazy decisions along the way that those around me thought were even crazier but looking back thay all contributed to me ending up with a great job I love.


    What did you ever see or hear that made you really think about your career?

    I spent the first 14 years of my working life covered in **** and had more work injuries than I care to think about. Very hard work, long hours and little thanks but the money was good. I used to see people visit the sites I was on wearing suits and looking like they did a lot less work than I did for more money…This was enough inspiration to find a way of spending the rest of my working life in a suit!

    Good luck with the book. I’ll keep checking watersones window display 😉




  2. So what was the best piece of career advice you ever received?

    Work on doing what you want to do now because you may never get the opportunity again.

  3. Changing career

    What would be the best advice you would give to someone either starting out or looking to change their career?

    I’ve made what could probably be identified as two major changes in career (management to sales to L&D) and I’m only 27. Don’t expect to chose "the right one" straight away, and don’t assume that changing it means that you’re indecisive in your career choice or a quiter. I don’t think I am – I’ve given my all in every role I’ve been in and been told I was made to change career. But you need to do something you enjoy.

    Money also isn’t anything. My sales role was brilliantly paid. But I never enjoyed it. I know people that love sales, and good for them, but don’t get stuck chasing a salary if you go home miserable every night.

  4. thanks so far

    Steve, Andrew and Chutzpah, thanks, these are really useful and valued contributions and I’m fairly sure that they will all getin the book somehow.

    Keep ’em coming people!…… is my fiftieth birthday so think of any contributions made today as a way of making an old man happy!


  5. Changing Career

    This is something I have done five times in the last thirty years. The best thing that I ever did was to sit down and look at what I needed rather than what I had or what I would like in terms of salary. That allowed me to take a serious pay drop to change job.

    I echo the others points that it what you start doing will likely change and often in these days of "portfolio careers"

    Finally the best bit of advice I was ever given was find something you like learn as much as you can about it, then decide if you like it too much to do it for a living


  6. Career Advice

    I’ve been working in the corporate world for 40 years.  The first 22 were with the same Company, same boss.  Big mistake!  I thought I had it all .. experience, job security, good enough salary.

    Through a series of events and having to move to China for 2 years (accompanying my husband on an expat assignment), I returned to a different part of the country, and therefore a different job.

    Wow!  A whole new world opened to me.  Not only did I realise that my experience was actually very limited (although specialised), but I finally discovered my ‘passion’, something totally different to what I had been doing for all those years spent in my ‘comfort zone’.

    So, my best advice – although I do not advocate job-hopping, don’t limit yourself by staying in the same role, doing the same thing, year after year.  Spread your wings and fly .. there a world of innovation out there .. explore, and ensure that you reach your full potential.

  7. So what was the best piece of career advice you ever received?

    I left school in the summer of 1975, during the worst recession in British manufacturing, something we have never recovered from. Having spent five years in a school in Liverpool, gettign 5 GCE O levels at Grade C or better,  the advice I got was to get a job, any job, because then I would get a foot on the work ladder. It was good advice, I could, like many contemporaries,  have spent the next decade or two unemployed. It is so much easier, as they say, to get a job when you have a job.

  8. Agreed

    Agree with that totally TerryG. I had lofty ambitions about a media job after my video production company folded. After 6 months of being unemployed I ended up at a Careers Office. The chap there told me in no uncertain terms what I needed was A JOB to pay the bills, get something on a CV etc. Within two days I was working as a temporary admin assistant in the training team at my local council (oh the joys of typing up someone else’s flipcharts!). Pretty quickly i realised I liked the training team atmosphere/world and that in fact could use my skillset. And I haven’t looked back since.

    To sum up

    1) Don’t be too proud to seek advice

    2) Nothing is beneath you – its a whole new world of opportunity.

    3) Think properley about transferable skills (an old concept, I know, but useful never the less.)

  9. Bill Gates

    Hi Rus

    I have a document which is allegedly from a speech that Bill Gates made to graduating students at his Alma Mater and contains some great quotes. Email me if you’d like a copy.


  10. Career advice


    Received: Setting career goals doesn’t work for everyone, just make sure you know what you like (and dislike), what you are good at and whether enjoying a job is more important than promotion. Then be ready to seize opportunities as they arise.

    Give to a career changer: give yourself a month to talk to others, to read (eg what colour is your parachute), to research and to reflect. Then list your top three options – your ideal and two fall backs. Give your ideal every effort, but unless it is an all consumming passion be ready to try out one of your alternative options.

    Saw or heard: I saw a presentation by Jack Canfield in America. He told some great stories about individuals pursuing their dreams (search for ‘chicken soup for the soul’). It included the story of a young lad who wanted to be a radio presenter. I won’t recount the whole story here. Suffice to say it captured his determination, his creative tactics, and his amazing journey through various adversities and opportunities.


  11. I overheard a conversation the other day

    between 2 colleagues.  One said to the other ‘You’re defining yourself by your job title, not defining the job by who you are’.  That resonated with me and another for your list.

  12. Do what you love

    Hi Rus,

    Late Happy Birthday to you though 50 isn’t old by any means 🙂

    Great answers above, I’d just add do what you love.  I’d love to think the money will follow though I’m still a work in progress.

    The best advice someone gave to me is to stretch yourself out of your comfort zone and ask for what you want.

    Good luck with the book and Best wishes



  13. a final word of thanks

    Hi All

    I’m submitting the manuscript to the editors this week and I just wanted to say a final word of thanks to you all for your contributions.  I’ve worked them all into the book (whether the editor will like them is another matter of course!), I’m not going to select a "best answer" here because each is great in a different chapter/setting/topic.

    Once the book is available I’ll send a copy to TZ for a review at the excellent TZ book discussion group

    Thanks again

    Rus Slater


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