5 pieces of career advice, from one woman to another

The original post was written by Tara-Lynn Hughes on LinkedIn in March 2017.

Imagine if you could travel back in time to when you started your first job? Think about it… What would you do differently? Would you laugh…or would you cringe at the perceptions of your younger self?

While you’re answering these questions, you’re likely thinking: “If only I knew then what I know now…”

I know what you mean.

In fact, I said that to myself numerous times while I wrote this blog! I also realized that revisiting past experiences can be quite enlightening.

Curious to see what I mean? Take a peek into my past and discover some valuable career advice I learned along the way:

Ask for help or forever hold your peace.

Asking for help can be down-right difficult. It can be uncomfortable –not to mention, it can instantly devour your pride.

At the same time, asking for help can be worth it – especially when it comes to your career.

After working for twelve years in Corporate Communications at TD’s head office in Toronto, I was craving a new journey. When I was given the opportunity to move into Retail Banking, I knew I couldn’t do it all on my own; the job involved a move across the country, and my husband and I had two young children at the time!

To make it all possible, my husband ended up leaving his job and being a stay-at-home dad. I’m not saying this works for everyone – but as a mom, sometimes you have to admit that you can’t do it all.

Maybe for you, asking for help means asking a family member to lend a hand, or coordinating with your manager to embrace flex-work options.

Every situation is unique – but don’t let fear or pride stand in the way of your career and its future.

Confidence is beautiful. It’s also extremely powerful.

I’ll never forget my last day in Corporate Communications when a colleague said to me: “Tara, you are either really brave or really stupid. You seem happy here, why rock the boat?“…

When I look back, making that cross-country move was the best thing I could have ever done for my career. It was out of my comfort zone – and it allowed me to try something completely new. On top of this, it was also a huge adrenaline rush!

The moral here is: don’t get stuck in a career paradigm. It’s easy to tell yourself: ”Well, I’ve never worked in that business line – therefore, I’m not qualified…”

Instead, you should pay attention to the soft skills in your career ‘tool box’; they can not only get you the job of your dreams — but they can also help you keep it.

Don’t be reluctant to shares your dreams and aspirations.

They say ‘the best advice comes from those that have been there or lived it’. That’s why mentors are so important.

Before I made the move to Victoria, BC I had several senior leaders tell me I should go into Retail. Every single time, I was laughing in my head, thinking, ‘How on earth can I lead a whole district of branches when I’ve never worked in a branch myself?” 

It turns out, they were right. They saw something I didn’t (my hidden strengths and my ability to succeed).

Having a mentor is not a sign of weakness; it shows you are smart and driven to propel your career.

Leverage your mentors, and take their advice to heart.

If the shoe doesn’t fit – another one will.

If you’re in a job and realize that it just doesn’t ‘feel’ right, that’s OK. These are growing pains – and they’re normal.

Always remember that life is much simpler than we make it. When you wake up, you should be excited to tackle your day.

You don’t need to mold or fit other people’s ideas; your career is yours and only yours. Be honest with yourself and by doing so, you’ll find a job that in end, you love!

Never underestimate the art (and value) of being a good listener.

You can’t be in a people business if you don’t value relationships. As a result, it’s important to be the best listener you can be.

Here’s your recipe for success: Repeat things that the person says, paraphrase their wording, and match their body language to your own.

In the end, this will help you build relationships and create a network that you can leverage down the road.

When it comes to your career, I challenge you to take a chance; however big or small it may be. A calculated career risk, seeking out a network of support or simply being open to change can have an immense impact on your journey.

It did for me!

By Alicia Hibbard
Alicia Hibbard