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20 Inconvenient Career Truths

This post was inspired by Charlie Gilkey’s genius article, "20 Inconvenient Business Truths." I read it and realized, in career coaching, I share inconvenient truths with my clients on a regular basis. I know it’s sometimes hard to hear these things but, in the end, they make you stronger. Here are 20 inconvenient career truths you should know about and learn from:


  1. Almost everyone starts at the bottom. Regardless of what you think you deserve, you probably will, too.
  2. There are no “right” answers for finding career fulfillment. Every path is different; every destination unique.
  3. It’s not enough to be good at what you do. Talent and skill will only take you so far.
  4. Work is not separate from the rest of your life. Compartmentalization is a myth.
  5. Professional growth requires discomfort.
  6. If you’re unhappy with your career, it’s up to you to change it. No one else controls your situation.
  7. Almost every job has a trade off. You’ll probably never get everything you want in one place.
  8. Achieving long-term career goals requires sustained effort and deliberate action. It’s no accident or coincidence.
  9. Your career is about YOU.
  10. A successful job search should take anywhere from three to six months. It’s not something that happens overnight.
  11. If you hate your job, it probably won’t get better with time. Sticking around because you’re afraid will only dig you deeper into the rut.
  12. Just as any successful business owner has a business plan, every successful professional should have a career plan.
  13. Money may be the reason you have to work, but it’s not the true motivation. People who wake up with joy each day are working for entirely different reasons. Money is simply a byproduct.
  14. Bad career advice is everywhere. If it sounds too simple to be true, it probably is.
  15. If you find yourself job hopping and nothing ever satisfies you for any period of time, it’s time to look at yourself. Most likely, you’re part of the problem.
  16. Every company has that person who gets away with slacking off, takes all the credit, earns more than she deserves, etc. The good news is that she’s not your problem. Let it go.
  17. If you’re not willing to invest in your career, why would any company be willing to invest in you?
  18. Most people change careers 3-7 times in their lives. That doesn’t mean you will.
  19. Layoffs happen. You may get fired. You may be “forced out” for reasons beyond your control. You’ll survive, and you’ll be stronger for it.
  20. No one achieves career success alone. The most successful professionals nurture their networks, show support and give more than they expect to get.
Do you have any career truths to add? Please share in the comments!

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