Fresh_GradThis May, a new batch of college graduates launch themselves into starting their careers, and plot their strategy on how to become a success in their chosen professions.

What was it that Benjamin Franklin said about advice…? ”Wise men don’t need advice. Fools won’t take it.” Well, here I go anyway.
After twenty years of experience in the employment industry, conducting thousands upon thousands of interviews with individuals from all backgrounds and experiences, I offer three bits of advice for those who are about to start their careers:

1. Find a career and company culture where you can be yourself. As Marcus Buckingham, author of First, Break all the Rules; Now, Discover your Strengths and Go put your Strengths to Work, tells us…if you can show up and be yourself, then you have the opportunity to be excellent.

We simply cannot be someone we’re not for very long. Take an inventory of the tasks that you like doing. We typically do those things well. Conversely, ask yourself what tasks you do not particularly like to do. We typically do not perform well at those tasks.

Seek feedback from those who know you well. Do some reality testing. Make sure that your career choice and the culture of the company that you are joining allows you to do those tasks that you enjoy doing. Put your talents to work, have fun and be excellent!

2. I find some of the best advice one can receive comes from the Navy Seals. Two bits of advice that they give resonate with me as a sound strategy for those starting out their careers. 1) Get motivated and 2) Continually improve your position. Nothing will be given. There will be no entitlements. Those who are self-motivated in their careers and seek ways to continually improve and invest in themselves will be the ones who climb to the top of the ladder of success. They will be easy to find. They will be the ones in the corner office.

3. In Great People Decisions, Claudio Fernandez Araoz outlines what he found to be keys to career success:

a. Genetics – your genetic makeup
b. Development – formal and informal learning that occurs over one’s lifetime
c. Career decisions – particularly early career decisions can multiply fruits of our development efforts
d. People decisions – the ability to make great people decisions is the most powerful contributor to career success

Clearly all of the above are key factors in career success and people decisions are the most important in the long-term. But, your career decisions early on can have a huge impact on where you end up. The sooner that you get yourself into a role where you can put your talents to work, the happier and more successful you will become.

It is an exciting, scary and challenging time for those starting their careers. Find a career and company where you can be yourself, get and stay motivated, always be looking for opportunities to improve and invest in yourself and do not take this career decision lightly. I hope this advice serves you well.