This post features the best career advice I’ve found after consuming thousands of articles and videos about how to grow your career.
Each idea featured below originally appeared in my For The Interested newsletter – a free weekly newsletter featuring actionable ideas to improve your life, work, and art.
The following career advice is broken down into several categories including:
- How to choose a career
- How to get a job you want
- How to advance your career
- How to change jobs
- How to avoid career mistakes
- How to build a creative career
I hope you find it helpful!
How To Choose A Career
Sometimes the beginning isn’t actually the beginning.
When it comes to careers, the first step isn’t to land your first job, but rather to identify what kind of career you want to pursue in the first place.
Here are a couple ideas to help you figure that out:
In this post I share the advice I gave somebody who knew they wanted to work in the entertainment industry, but had no idea how to make that happen.
In short: You need to do things. Not enough people do things.
This is an epic post from Tim Urban in which he offers a deep dive into how your life path, career map, potential, reality, and priorities can lead you to a career you’ll enjoy.
In short: Most of the ways we were told to approach our careers growing up are outdated and don’t lead where we want to go.
How To Get A Job You Want
Once you figure out what kind of career you want, the next trick is to figure out how to actually land a job doing it.
Here are a few ideas to improve your chances of making that happen:
In this post I share actionable tips to instantly improve your resume and break down common mistakes to avoid.
In short: Your accomplishments matter more than your responsibilities and remember the point is to stand out and get noticed – not to fit in with the rest of the resumes on the pile.
In this post I encourage you to look at your dream job in a different way – to recognize you don’t need somebody to hire you in order to do the work of your dreams.
In short: You get your dream job AFTER you start doing your dream work.
The only way to get a career opportunity you want is to ensure the people who can give you that opportunity know you exist – in this post I offer one specific way to do that.
In short: Create a platform to interview people in your industry who you want to know you exist and in the process you’ll put yourself at the center of the community you want to be a part of.
How To Advance Your Career
It’s one thing to land a job, it’s another to use it to further your career.
Here are a few things you can do to stand out in your job, get noticed, and get promoted or unlock bigger and better opportunities:
In this four-minute video, filmmaker Judd Apatow shares what he’s found to be the key to building a career – especially in the beginning.
In short: Overdeliver on any assignment you’re given and don’t be a dick.
In this post I break down the six things you can do to make yourself irreplaceable to the people that hire or employ you in your career.
In short: Act like an employer instead of an employee, develop skills beyond your job description, and seek out problems as much as you seek out solutions.
If you want to advance in your career, you can’t be intimidated by people who work at the level you desire to become.
In short: The people you admire became that way because they weren’t intimidated by the people they admired. They respected them, learned from them, and admired them – but they weren’t in awe of them.
Sean Johnson offers a collection of advice you can use to turn your career into a rocket ship and get where you want to go as quickly as possible.
In short: Volunteer to be a note taker in meetings because it allows you to shape projects and ideas, sign up for projects nobody else wants to do, and become a unicorn.
The Facebook COO explains why she believes the key to career success is to focus your efforts on only your best ideas.
In short: Practice ruthless prioritization.
At multiple points in your career, you will have to negotiate with your employers or clients to get what you want and in this post I share four principles to keep in mind when you go into a negotiation.
In short: Be honest with yourself about what you want, what you’re willing to trade for it, and be willing to walk away if you don’t get it.
How To Change Jobs
As your career progresses, you’ll come to a crossroads when you have to decide whether or not it’s time to switch jobs.
This can be a tough decision so here are a few things to consider:
Every career decision is unique, but I’ve found there are some underlying principles you can follow to ensure you’re headed in the right direction.
In short: Move toward something instead of away from something, look for better instead of perfect, chase learning, and don’t base decisions on money.
Careers are not defined by jobs – they’re defined by our ability to develop assets and then use those assets to acquire the value we want. In this post I break down the four assets we can develop in our career and the four types of value they can unlock for us.
In short: We trade our skills, knowledge, effort, and time for money, learning, opportunities, and experiences.
Sometimes your next job isn’t a job at all. In this video, Khe Hy shares his story about “retiring” at age 35 and what he learned in the process.
In short: Don’t be afraid to pursue opportunities and a life that’s so idiosyncratic nobody could do it but you.
How To Avoid Career Mistakes
Nobody’s perfect and you’re bound to have a few missteps along your career path – but they don’t have to be costly ones.
Here are a few common career mistakes to be on the lookout for:
This Darius Foroux post is a good starting point since it lays out a set of basic assumptions and choices we make about our career that can sometimes lead us in the wrong direction.
In short: Don’t assume your career is linear, hop from industry to industry, or be afraid to ask for things.
Typically, the most valuable work you do doesn’t look like “work.” In this post, I suggest you recognize your job isn’t just what’s in your job description and reframe how you spend your time in order to become more valuable and productive.
In short: Recognize the way the working world has changed and invest in what matters now, not just what’s always been done.
People that make it to the top of their field tend to do so in part because of their ability to avoid making big mistakes. In this post, Raghav Haran shares what he’s learned to avoid from talking to successful people.
In short: Don’t chase status, assume what got you to level 1 will get you to level 2, and be afraid to ask others for help.
Respect your elders – they’ve got a lot of wisdom to share. In this post, Tina Seelig offers up seven career tips she wishes she would have known when she was 40.
In short: There isn’t only one time to launch a career, it’s important to identify advocates, and you must approach work with clear intentions.
How To Build A Creative Career
While the career advice I’ve shared above is applicable to just about any career path, there are some additional considerations for people pursuing a creative career.
Here are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when turning your creativity into your business:
If you’re a creative person who’s not sure how to start turning your talents into your career, this video is a good place to start. Julian Mitchell simplifies the necessary elements to make a living with creative work.
In short: Take inventory of your talents, turn casual activity into consistent action, and turn platforms into storefronts.
Your talent is unique, but your struggles are not. I’ve worked with all sorts of different creators over the years and have found the same five key elements ultimately define their success – in this post I break them down and explain how best to approach them.
In short: It takes focus, clarity of who you are and what you do, a process, the ability to create opportunities, and to identify and grow your audience.
It’s not easy to build a successful creative career, but it’s possible – as long as you’re willing to be honest with yourself. In this post, Srinivas Rao shares the hard truths about what it means to make a living as a creator.
In short: You have to create value, there has to be a demand for what you create, and you need to develop the habits of a professional.
There’s no substitute for experience. In this post, a group of veteran creatives share the knowledge they wish they would have known when they were younger to help others learn those lessons sooner, rather than later.
In short: There’s a difference between empathy and compassion, you can’t control everything, and you can adapt to anything.
Want More Career Advice?
Every week I share ideas like these about how to grow your career in my For The Interested newsletter.
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