Karin Schroeck-Singh: My Top 40 Career Lessons
# 1 – Be passionate! I consider a person who is able to turn their favourite hobby into their profession as extremely lucky. Do what you love doing, put your passion first, money second. If you do your job passionately, you will perform extraordinarily well and money will follow automatically. Remember that passion can’t be learnt, either you have it or not. On the other hand, every skill can be learnt!
# 2 – Never underestimate other people by judging them according to their appearance, their age, their race, their religion, their gender, their education or their background. There are some incredibly great personalities out there, who just prefer to stay in the background rather than in the limelight.
# 3 – You want to know if you should hire someone, do business with someone, recommend someone, enter a friendship or partnership with someone? Check their online presence on various social media websites (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc.) It will be an eye-opening experience, give you invaluable insights and prevent you from dealing with the wrong person.
# 4 – Don’t be too impressed by other peoples’ job titles, their flashy cars, their achievements. They are what you are too…. Human Beings. And by the way, it does not tell you anything about a person’s (good) character!
# 5 – Don’t know what career path you should choose? Don’t follow other peoples’ advice what profession you should pursue, instead look at your strengths and passion and decide by yourself. IT’S YOUR LIFE. Earning good money is important but don’t make that your priority when choosing a job in a certain industry. Ask yourself: What would excite me every day to get up and feel enthusiastic about my job or my own business?
# 6 – Ask always lots of questions. The more you ask, the more you will know. The more knowledgeable you are, the better decisions (and thus, less mistakes) you will be able to make.
# 7 – Preparation is key. Always prepare and do your research. This will allow you to be more confident and will give you the edge over other people. No matter whether you are attending a meeting, giving a speech or presentation, go for a job interview, participate in a negotiation, give a pitch in order to attract an investor.
# 8 – You don’t need to know everything. It’s important to know where to find the information you are looking for, be it a resource or an expert. Don’t burden your brain by memorising things that you can easily find out with a click on your computer. Sometimes you just need to know the right people. Your network can be a very powerful tool if used the right way.
# 9 – It would be useful to have people with certain professions in your network. Once you are in need of some advice you know that you can always ask them first for some ‘free’ advice. For example, a lawyer, a tax consultant, a doctor, a dentist, a hairdresser/barber, an IT Specialist, etc.
# 10 – Use “praise” as a motivational tool. Often simple praise can be very effective, doesn’t cost a penny and is memorable. Everyone is hungry for some verbal applause, no matter what age, gender, social status, race and religion. Remember to praise in public, but to criticize in private. Well, let’s actually call it “giving constructive feedback”. However, there are also those who get highly motivated by being provoked and really put to the test in order to get the best out of them. Make sure you know whom to treat in what way.
# 11 – It’s all about marketing: be different and exceed peoples’ expectations! If you run a company and you want people to talk positive about your company (no matter whether you are selling products or services) there is only one way to achieve it: EXCEED their expectations! You need to create WOW! moments, that will make people spread the word for free. The most important department in a company is Marketing and that means getting clients, or better “raving fans”. Nowadays competition is tough and you need to think creatively. You need to do things differently, better, quicker, more efficiently or in a different format in order to stand out from the crowd.
# 12 – IMAGE does matter. The way you present yourself, the way you communicate, the way you dress and the way you act, all say something about you. You might have come across the saying “You never get a second chance to make a first impression!” Also for companies their image and their reputation is crucial. The power of today’s NOBODY should never be underestimated. Social Media can be very powerful, in the positive and the negative way.
# 13 – Learn to accept criticism. If someone criticizes you, don’t take it personal. Consider it as a unique gift that will help you to improve and to really become the best. If you want to have an additional edge, do exactly that what everyone else hates doing. Get good in it and make yourself indispensable!
# 14 – Learn from the best. Always be curious, open and flexible to learn new things. Learn from people who are better than you, this will allow you to grow further and climb up the career ladder much quicker. There is a reason why some people choose to have mentors in their career. If someone gives you a chance to follow in the footsteps of your boss, but doesn’t offer you an immediate salary increase… still accept the offer. See it first as a learning opportunity, and once you are more experienced, ask for more money.
# 15 – Make as many experiences as possible as long as you are young. Use the opportunity of holidays to do various internships. You will not only gain experience (which will enrich your CV), but also extend your network, improve your skills, earn some money and find out whether this could be a good job for you in the future. Once you are a bit older, focus on one area and become a sought-after expert in it.
# 16 – Meet a job candidate more often before hiring. If you need to hire a person, make sure you meet the person twice or three times at different places (office, restaurant, park etc.) and check their background also on social media. You will find out things that you might have never come across otherwise.
# 17 – Career is important but don’t forget your health. You might have to put your health and also your family first – at some point in your career – because once you are old, it will not be your career that looks after you, but your family (hopefully!).
# 18 – Be nice and polite to everyone at all times, you never know when you meet certain people again in the future. Believe it or not, but the world is a small place. The person who is your client today, could be your boss tomorrow. The person who you treat disrespectfully today, could reject you tomorrow with regard to something that matters to you. In life you never know, don’t burn down bridges.
# 19 – Show other people that you care about them, that you are genuinely interested in them and what they do. They will like you, trust you and most probably also buy from you (in case you are selling a product or service) or recommend you later on.
# 20 – If you create something valuable for others and you give it in advance, it is more likely that others will help you once you are in need of advice, support or other help. Build relationships before you are in trouble.
# 21 – Things can get done more easily and faster if you are polite, respectful and kind to other people. Being aggressive towards others will not get you anything in return, on the contrary it will just backfire. Always keep your anger under control, no matter what.
# 22 – If you really want something in life, you need to ask for it. You want a salary increase? Don’t wait for your boss to offer it to you. Make sure you have good reasons and achievements to proof your great performance, wait for the right time and then approach your boss. If you don’t ask you will never find out and get anything.
# 23 – Having great sales skills is one of the most important skills you can learn in your life, it will benefit you in life as well as in your career.
# 24 – Lots of things can be manipulated (products, reports, certificates, testimonials, reviews, people, statements). You can’t always trust what you see, hear and read. Therefore, watch out!
# 25 – The small things do matter and can give you the final necessary edge in order to differentiate yourself from others. For example, get the name of the person you are addressing in an email/letter right. Write a thank you card after an important meeting with someone, go the extra mile when nobody else would do it, etc.
# 26 – Don’t pursue a job, but a relationship. Often it might be better to establish a great relationship with someone in a company you would love to work in. This would allow you to get your foot in the door easier, rather than applying straight away for a job. It might take you longer, but you will be the number 1 candidate that the company will think of, if an opportunity arises.
# 27 – There are situations in which you need to stay a bit more serious. Keep your smiles limited, you will be perceived as more credible, professional and trustworthy and will be taken more seriously.
# 28 – If you decide to run your own business make sure you choose a form of business which does not allow you to lose any of your personal assets.
# 29 – You don’t always need to be big, you just need to be quicker than others. That in itself could give you the necessary advantage.
# 30 – Keep learning. Every day before going to sleep ask yourself “What did I learn today?” Look for ways how you can learn something quickly, easily and cheaply. The internet has so many opportunities that you can explore. “Learn from everyone, anytime, anywhere”, is my favourite motto. Use every opportunity that is being presented to you. It will increase your learning curve dramatically.
# 31 – Being self-confident means, you know how good you are. You don’t need to tell everyone and boost about your achievements. It means letting your actions speak for your ability. For people to believe in you, you must believe in yourself first.
# 32 – Your communication skills do matter! They can make or break a deal, can make you lose your job, prevent you from getting your next job or your next promotion. Learn how to communicate effectively, be it face to face, via email or social media, over the phone or standing on a podium. It matters WHAT you say but often also HOW you say it. Learn the difference between assertive and aggressive language!
# 33 – If people are really interested in your abilities, they don’t make you wait to make you an offer. They will let you know quickly because they know great talent is rare and competition is tough.
# 34 – If you run your own business in a foreign country, it’s surely beneficial to know the local language. If not, don’t wait any longer to get started. The quicker you do it the better.
# 35 – If someone tells you NO today, it does not mean that it will be a NO tomorrow too. Often you need to be patient and persistent at the same time.
# 36 – Lots can be learnt by looking and observing at how other professionals (with the same job) are tackling certain tasks and challenges. Do it similarly, but always stick to your own style. Don’t be a copy of someone else, instead keep your individuality.
# 37 – Be aware of different types of gestures. What might be considered as acceptable body language in your native country can be perceived as very rude in another country.
# 38 – When you are talking to people, mind your language. You never know when someone is recording secretly what you are saying. Mobile devices make this very easy nowadays! But also watch out what you are writing to someone via email or social media. It can always be used against you.
# 39 – If you want to stand out from the crowd in a job interview situation, you need to go the extra mile. Show the company that you researched them thoroughly and show with visual examples (if applicable) how you already thought about what difference and impact you can make on the company’s success. If you are able to impress them in a way that they have never seen before, they will surely remember you.
# 40 – Be careful: If something sounds too good to be true, there might be something foul with it. Watch out! If you want to know if you are falling into the trap of an online scam, research the company thoroughly. Enter “company’s name + scam”. You will see if people posted negative reviews or other useful information that warn you before making any mistakes. Thousands of people fall victim to online scams on a daily basis!
It would be great if you could share your most important career lessons too. Your comments are always appreciated. Thank you.