Career Advice to Help You Get Ahead & Feel Good About It

October 8, 2008

So what’s the secret to getting ahead at work? I asked my co-workers for their best career advice when I surveyed my peers for professional feedback as I left my last job.  Here’s how I worded it:

“Please share one piece of advice that has been the most valuable for you in furthering your career and professional development. Make it your best career tip, the one that’s been most effective for you”.

I got an interesting mixture of tips ranging from work/life balance, to avoiding embarrassing mistakes, to acting like you know what you’re talking about when you’re in charge.  I worked with a lot of these people for many years and for the most part they’re pretty smart and reasonable workers so check out the tips that have served them best in their career:

Be Honorable and Decent

I have always tried to do the honorable and decent thing. I’m not sure that it has helped my career in a tangible sense, but I am glad that I have done it even if it hasn’t.

If something goes wrong, it is better to confess and fix the problem than conceal the problem. The cover-up is almost always worse than the original problem.

It is much better to deliver bad news in advance than it is to deliver it by surprise at the last minute.

Take a Deep Breath & Pause

Take a few minutes before responding to anything.  Read that email or listen to that voicemail several times before responding – especially if it is a high pressure/client sensitive situation.  The initial reaction to a message may not be what the sender intended as well as you may find an alternative message you wish to convey and if you react quickly, you may miss the point or miscommunicate.

Work to Live, Don’t Live to Work

Don’t put your ALL in your work, share some with your LIFE.  After being sick, it was very clear that jobs, projects, and other highly prioritized events in my life could vanish overnight.  Your family, friends, and things you enjoy should get the best time and attention you’ve got.

Learn and Record

Ask lots of questions and take lots of notes!!

Issue Management

No matter what, there are only three ways to deal with a bad situation:
1.  Talk to someone to see if you can change it;
2.  Leave the situation;
3.  If none of the above work, change your attitude.

Management Tip

When in a management position, you do not have to know the answer to everything. Be prepared to know how to get the answer.

Always Be Positive

always stay positive around your peers. a positive attitude, no matter how much you don’t like a situation, will go further is being successful, than you will ever get by following the crowd of people that bitch about how bad things are going….

Don’t Over-Worry

If you can’t control it, worrying about it is a waste of time.

Learn the Rules

Procedure, procedure, procedure!  Especially in Corporate America, you have to know how things get done.  If you don’t know, ask.  You have to know what the proper procedures are before you can know how to bend them without breaking them.  And as a programmer, you will have to bend them sooner or later.

Put Family First

Don’t sacrifice family time for more pay and responsibility at work.

If you’ve gotten something out of the series of career tips I’ve been running over the last few weeks, click here to subscribe to Money Smart Life for more money tips and advice for a better life!

Have any career advice of your own that you’d like to share with everyone? Feel free to leave your tip in the comment section below.


Will this article help you save or earn more money? Get others like it simply by entering your email address below. Your email is used only for delivering daily money tips and you can opt out of delivery at any time. Click here to see all your free subscription options.


Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

All posts by


5 Responses to Career Advice to Help You Get Ahead & Feel Good About It

  • Millicent Burkett

    The first advice I would offer is this: be wary of following the careers advice your college gives you. In journalism school, for example, students are routinely instructed that, though they may wish to write about development issues in Latin America, in order to achieve the necessary qualifications and experience they must first spend at least three years working for a local newspaper, before seeking work for a national newspaper, before attempting to find a niche which brings them somewhere near the field they want to enter. You are told to travel, in other words, in the opposite direction to the one you want to take. You want to go to Latin America? Then first you must go to Nuneaton. You want to write about the Zapatistas? Then first you must learn how to turn corporate press releases into “news”. You want to be free? Then first you must learn to be captive…

  • marci

    A smile opens many doors.
    In other words, Attitude counts.

    Always remember who signs your paycheck or is responsible for ok’ing your hours. Give them the proper respect. You work for them – not the other way around.

    If you really don’t like your job, leave it.
    You’re not doing yourself any favors staying, nor are you doing right by your employer.


  • linklings, a Marley mindset | brip blap
  • Book Giveaway Winner and Thanksgiving Links - Oct 12, 2008
  • Updated Latest Savings and Checking Account Rates (and Blog Roundup) - Consumerism Commentary: A Personal Finance Blog