When it comes to your career, sometimes it feels like you could use all the advice you can get. From picking the “right” career to actually excelling in it, there’s certainly a lot to learn.
And that’s why we’ve gathered our all-time best career advice. From starting out at the bottom of the totem pole to advancing to a more senior position to—who knows?—maybe even branching out to open your own business, we’ve collected 45 of the best tips for whatever stage you’re at in your career.
- The best career or job is the one in which you’re using the skills you enjoy. But, not every job needs to address all of your passions. Use every job as an opportunity to learn something new and keep an open mind; you may find that you really enjoy something you never imagined would appeal to you.—Miriam Salpeter, Founder of Keppie Careers
- Don’t take yourself (or your career) too seriously. Plenty of brilliant people started out in jobs they hated, or took paths that weren’t right at the beginning of their careers. Professional development is no longer linear, and trust that with hard work and a dedication to figuring out what you want to do with your life, you, too, will be OK!—Kathryn Minshew, CEO of The Muse
- Every person you meet is a potential door to a new opportunity—personally or professionally. Build good bridges even in that just-for-now job, because you never know how they’ll weave into the larger picture of your life.—Kristina Leonardi, Career Coach
- My friend Andre said to me, “You know, Marissa, you’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself to pick the right choice, and I’ve gotta be honest: That’s not what I see here. I see a bunch of good choices, and there’s the one that you pick and make great.” I think that’s one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten.”—Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo!
- No matter how low on the totem poll you are or how jaded you’ve become by your to-do list, it’s still important to show up early, wear something sharp, and avoid Facebook like the plague. I discovered that when I acted like a professional, I suddenly felt like my work was a lot more valuable. “Looking the part” boosted my confidence, helped me begin to see myself as a highly capable contributor to the team—and ultimately led the rest of my team to see me in the same light.—Lisa Habersack, Writer
- Remember that a job, even a great job or a fantastic career, doesn’t give your life meaning, at least not by itself. Life is about what you learn, who you are or can become, who you love and are loved by.—Fran Dorf, Author and Psychotherapist
- If the career you have chosen has some unexpected inconvenience, console yourself by reflecting that no career is without them.—Jane Fonda
- Every year or two, spend some time really thinking about your career. Go out and warm up your network, check out new opportunities, and do some salary comparisons. You make smarter career decisions when you have real data. Also, if you are afraid or uncomfortable, you are probably onto something awesome! Fear means you are growing your comfort zone.—Christie Mims, Career Coach
- Don’t be afraid to speak up in a meeting or to schedule a sit down with a colleague or boss—whether to hash out details on a project or deal with a sensitive situation. When it comes to having your ideas heard, or to really connecting with co-workers, never underestimate the power of face time and the importance of in-person communication.—Catherine Straut, Assistant Editor of Elle
- Some people think the office is the place to be all power, all brilliance, all the time. And while you should strive to make a powerful and brilliant impression, an occasional question or clarification won’t discount your abilities—but it may help you squeeze through a tricky situation with your reputation intact.—Sara McCord, Staff Writer and Editor at The Muse
- Take criticism or “feedback” for what it is: a gift given to you to make you better at what you do. Don’t concern yourself with the person or the method of delivery. Instead, glean out the teachable nuggets and move on.—Michelle Bruno, President of Bruno Group Signature Events
- I know. You’ve heard it a thousand times: Dress for the job you want, not the one you’ve got. But I think this message goes far beyond the clothes you wear every day: It’s how you present yourself in meetings and at office events, how you interact with staff both above and below you, and how seriously you take your work.—Adrian Granzella Larssen, Editor-in-Chief at The Muse
- In chaos, there is opportunity. Most major career accelerations happen when someone steps into a mess and makes a difference.—Kristi Hedges, Leadership Coach
- Work harder than everyone under you or above you. Nothing commands respect more than a good work ethic. This means being the first one at the event in the morning and the last one to leave in the evening. No one said this gig was easy.—Keith Johnston, Event Consultant at Plannerwire
- Having a mentor within your company is particularly valuable—she can identify opportunities for advancement you might overlook, guide you through challenging projects, and help you build relationships with higher-ups. Most importantly, if she’s influential, she can earn you recommendations for special projects or teams that you might not have been considered for otherwise. And these are the factors that are going to pave the way for success at your company.