How to take career advice

Throughout life we are lucky to have people around us that care enough about us to wish us the best. Due to this care, advice is always given around your career and what one should do next.

People in Canberra tend to advise others on joining the public service as it’s a great career option that offers job security. I find that this advice comes from people of an older generation. Perhaps a generation that values job security more than career diversity and exposure to different job roles.

So it’s no surprise that many local graduates aim towards the APS after finishing University. And this isn’t a bad option. Graduate places are limited so getting a job there can certainly be a confidence boosting achievement.

I find that when it comes to landing a new job somewhere, there are always a few key individuals that can help you get onto the ship. These could be employees of the company, the manager who has hired you or connections that have helped along the way. Eventually, the times come for you to get off that ship and sail aboard a new one – sometimes you just need to get off altogether and stay onshore.

Here is the problem I find. When it comes to joining an organisation, there are many people that help you. Realising that your time is up however, is something you will have to figure out on your own. What complicates things is that the people who normally give advice to you will start to contradict each other. Some will say to stay at your first job for a minimum of 4 years, others say find new experiences before getting too comfortable or too bored with your current job.

In the end, you are in the best position to decide what should come next. If you are serious about personal development and career progression, then your gut feelings should be guiding you to make a decision. Perhaps once you feel as though what you’re doing is not contributing to your career. Some people say wait five years in the APS before approaching the private sector. The truth is that there is no right or wrong time to explore your options be it a job change or career change altogether. The workforce is so volatile in that specific jobs don’t last for long, so being aware of what’s around you is a continuous responsibility.

When it feels as though you could move on, then it’s probably time you started looking for opportunities. You can’t afford to stick to arbitrary time frames set by others or follow the career transitions that others have made before you. Every circumstance will be different. If you are not open to new opportunities then many will pass you by without you knowing it.

Many people may have helped you get somewhere, moving on from that requires you to do this alone.

I originally wrote this post at a time when I worked for a different employer, in a different industry. I think it’s now time to publish the thoughts I held then. I still feel the same way. You will always get three different views when it comes to a career. Only you know what feels right. Logic sometimes isn’t enough.