The best career advice for every decade of your life
Some career advice is applicable throughout your working life, but other advice is only good for certain times in your career.
Catherine Conlan, Monster contributor
There are some nuggets of career advice that can be carved in stone and hold true for all eternity. But, sometimes the advice has an expiration date. Keep the following in mind as you climb up the ladder, year after year.
Todd Cherches of BigBlueGumball agrees. “Don't be afraid to try or to fail. That's what these years are meant for. Don't feel that any job is beneath you, because it's not. At this stage of your life, everything is a learning experience.”
Now is the time to find a job in the field where you’d like to pursue a career. “There are many things to consider, but the most important issues is to consider a job that you actually like, whether it is in your major or not,” Stovall says.
It’s also a good idea to start establishing your individuality. “Stop comparing yourself to your friends, especially the ones you went to college with,” says Christine Sirois, a freelance journalist in her 20’s. “Once you're in the job market, it's not a level playing field and comparing yourself to your friends is a recipe for feeling inadequate and unhappy. Instead, set goals and work at your own pace to achieve them.”
At this point, you’re hitting your stride, but you should remain flexible in case something new and interesting comes up, Cherches says. “You want to be working at what you are good at and what you like to do, and setting yourself up for success, while still allowing for opportunities to take risks and to grow.”
Being assertive can help set yourself up for that success, says Jill Ivey, senior associate at WIT Strategy. “Be clear about what you're looking to get out of your position. If it's not a good fit, look at other options. Don't stay in a job that you hate, or that isn't fulfilling, or where there's no room for advancement because you're afraid of change.”
Alisha Karabinus, lecturer in rhetoric and composition at Purdue University, says your 30s are the time to ask for things and make a clear case for why you should get what you want. “Are you valuable? Are you essential? Stop grousing and make a case for a raise or a bonus. Be ready with a clear case and quantifiable deliverables if applicable.”
This is the time you should establish yourself as an expert, says Peter Engler of Engler Career Group. “Develop a career and a resume that few can duplicate so that you stand out from the crowd. Build your network and find a good mentor who can provide sage advice.”
Cori Tyler works in law enforcement and uses his expertise to run his own business, Last Line Defense Training. His career advice for those in their 40s: “Know the difference between a job and a career, and decide what priority it truly has in your life.” In addition, don't let your work or career define who you are: “Those come to an end, sooner or later.”
Despite your expertise, it’s important to keep learning at this stage, Cherches says. Technology and the marketplace change so quickly that you’ll need to make an effort to stay current. “Your strength lies in combining your years of experience with your ability and willingness to stay ahead of the curve. You may also be thinking about what you want your ‘leadership legacy’ to be.”
Artist Ann Klefstad says to look beyond regular jobs. “What has worked for me is to take the skills I have and work like the devil to create opportunities to use them, freelancing or consulting.” She recommends increasing the amount of your involvement with things you have affinity for and actively work to meet people involved with them.
60's and beyond
At this age, you can market yourself as a sage, but stay humble enough to learn from those younger than you, Cherches says. “You want to be a mentor, and yet be willing to be mentored. With that combination of attributes, you will have much to contribute and be much in demand.”