Career advice: 25 women share the one “pro tip” they wish they’d learned sooner
Careers

Career advice: 25 women share the one “pro tip” they wish they’d learned sooner

25 women share the “pro tip” that has guided them throughout their careers.

Whatever stage you’re at in your career stage or whatever path it’s taking, it always pays to have a few pearls of wisdom in your back pocket for when imposter syndrome hits or you have to navigate a difficult work situation. Changing sectors, interviewing for a dream job, plucking up the confidence to present or building a rapport with your team can feel insurmountable. But fear not.

Stylist asked 25 women working across media, healthcare, fashion, technology, music, business, energy and finance about the one pro tip that has guided them through their career. This is what they said.

“Be your own competition”

“Having established a vision and purpose and set goals for my career, I learned early on in my journey how important progress is; regardless of the size, progress allows us to get closer to achieving our goals.

“To make progress in our career journeys, we must not allow ourselves to get distracted with what others are doing. Everyone is on their own unique path. To be successful, you must remain focused, constantly revisit your goals and ensure you are consistently making progress from where you were yesterday. And remember, even the smallest improvement is still an improvement.”

Nitisha Patel award-winning chef, author and owner of Dhalings

“Stay determined”

“It sounds simple but work hard, have a positive attitude, and have patience – nothing happens overnight. I make sure I stay determined, motivated and humble, ultimately you get out what you put in.”

Ami Ellis, co-chef proprietor at The Bailiwick 

“Never stop learning”

“Keep investing in yourself and never stop learning. You can use this knowledge to come up with innovative ideas and make yourself aware of how you can progress and grow in your job.”

Jo Threlfall, head of digital PR at Embryo

“Write down all your fears”

“My one piece of advice would be to write down all of your career fears and doubts. Whether you want to ask for a pay rise, promotion, change your career or start your own business, you’ll soon realise that the list is a lot shorter than you thought.

“Next to each one, write down how you can overcome this. What you thought was completely unachievable and daunting suddenly becomes manageable.”

Elisha Rai, co-founder of Folc

“Learn to reject rejection”

“When job hunting, as author Jack Canfield says, reject rejection. When a recruiter or interviewer says no, you say next. We tend to take rejection so personally, but instead, we need to think of rejection as redirection. That is why we need to build resilience and bounce back so nothing can stop us from pushing forward to reach our dreams.”

Mamta Gera, wellbeing coach

“Hold yourself accountable”

“Make measurable goals and write them down. Hold yourself to your goals and make sure you know what you have to do to achieve them. When you accomplish one goal, write down another one.”

Amber Zhaoyang Wang, model

25 women share their one career 'pro tip', from job interviews to making connections
25 women share their one career 'pro tip', from job interviews to making connections

“Don’t forget to be yourself”

“Always be true to yourself and be authentic as it will shine through. You might admire others or aspire to have their attributes and success – and there’s nothing wrong with listening, absorbing, and channeling this in your own work – but don’t forget to be yourself. Your actions will be more natural and there is no one you are more suited to being than yourself. Remember happiness and fulfilment in your career isn’t just about what you’re good at; it’s about what you’re passionate about. Take the risk. Take the road less travelled. You might just be glad you did.”

Karen Cairney, CEO of Cairney & Company

“Stay on good terms”

“Stay on good terms with good people because you never know from where the next opportunity may come. I randomly messaged a university acquaintance 20 years after graduation at a time his employer needed someone with my exact experience. I got the job.”

Liza Horan

“Don’t be afraid to be different from your mentors”

“Put the hard yards in when you’re young, in your 20s and 30s. Stay focused on your goal and don’t get distracted by other people. Don’t be afraid to be different from your mentors.”

Dr Elizabeth Hawkes, surgeon at the Cadogan Clinic 

“Remember that nothing is forever”

“My one career tip would be to remember that nothing is forever. Our forward thinking headteacher at secondary school said our generation would have on average seven careers in their working lives, not just seven jobs. I couldn’t believe it at the time, but now I totally agree. I could never have envisaged where I am now 10 years ago. I moved from the music industry to business mentoring online. The jobs you’ll have in the future might not even have been invented yet.”

Vicky Shilling, wellness business mentor

“You can’t do it alone”

“Surround yourself with good people. You don’t have to do it alone. The ones to give you good advice, the ones that can challenge you and the ones that will be there to lift you up when it doesn’t go right.”

Jess Stern, co-founder, Mustard Made

“Building a career takes time”

“Have patience with yourself. Building a fulfilling career takes time. When I was laying the foundations for myself, I wanted everything (ie new opportunities, a promotion, pay rise) to happen now. But that’s blind ambition and will lead to nothing but internalised frustration and heartache. Remind yourself that as long as you’re applying yourself wholeheartedly, studying your industry and taking the opportunities that are offered, you’re putting in the work and it will pay off eventually.”

Scarlett Pares Landells, head of communications, Defected Records

"You're only as good as your team"
"You're only as good as your team"

“Don’t be afraid to say no”

“When climbing the business ladder, any ambitious person will want to make sure they deliver on projects, show initiative, and go the extra mile, but a quality that is often not easy to stick to is having the strength to say no.

“Often, people want to say no in work situations but feel like they can’t, not because they don’t want to complete the task or project at hand, but because they already have a high workload, set priorities or tasks in motion. If you want to say no to an additional task or project at work, a great way to do this confidently is to offer an alternative solution. This shows you are strategically considering the business impact of taking on more than you can manage, and you’re bringing a solution to counterbalance your ‘no’.

Chloe Addis, head of marketing, Headley Media

“Learn from your mistakes”

“You can’t fear failure because you’ll always learn from your mistakes. Take those risks; you’ll be rewarded.”

Stef Williams

“Don’t be afraid to ask”

“Never be afraid to ask for what you believe you deserve, but always use solid proof points and data to back it up, whether it is a pay rise or promotion. A career doesn’t always just happen; it takes a lot of planning. If there are things you want to achieve, work backwards to understand the steps you might need to take to get there.”

Kate Zatland, headhunter, Forme

“Be your own biggest fan”

“People will always doubt you, but don’t let that cloud your judgement. The journey of real development will have you faced with challenges and people who question your abilities, as long as it’s not the person in the mirror having those potential doubts then you’re fine. Talk to and about yourself as if you are your biggest fan, because that’s always exactly who you should be.”

Hannah Syers, senior PR manager at Fox Agency

“Always show up”

“Always show up. And show up with a positive attitude and initiative. You will be noticed – even if not right away – for your commitment.”

Eshita Kabra Davies, founder of By Rotation

“Utilise the strengths of others”

“Stay humble and listen to the thoughts of others. Never be in a state where you think you know it all, whether you’re employed or building your own business. It’s so important to be self-aware of your strengths and weaknesses so you know when to utilise others’ strengths and achieve more together.”

Ruth Sullivan, CEO, good to glo 

“Don’t make your career all that you do”

“You can’t succeed in your career if your career is all that you do. Sacrificing your health, self care and relationships may get you short-term success, recognition from a boss or a promotion. But if you are looking to thrive in the long term, discovering balance is the most sustainable and enjoyable way there.”

Charlotte, wellness practitioner

“Be open to change”

“My one career tip would be: always be open to change. My career path changed massively in 2017 and has led me on a path I didn’t expect. Rather than being 100% set on what you want, allow flexibility for opportunity.”

Estelle Keeber, founder, Immortal Monkey

"Act confident, even when you're not"
"Act confident, even when you're not"

“Put in the work with relationships”

“My simple advice is to build relationships like a garden: keep watering them. Always try to be helpful and communicate to others as you would want in return. As I look back on my career, every position I have had has been a result of networking and relationships, which I worked hard to build. I try to keep up with everyone I have met along the way and I am fortunate to have been introduced to many people who have shaped my career as a result.”

Amy Christiansen, founder, Sana Jardin

“Bring your whole self to work”

““The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that the best employers let you bring your whole self to work. For me, that includes my chronic health condition. Symptoms like swollen joints could make commuting really tricky for me, but when I asked to work from home one day a week in a previous job, I was turned down and then promptly sacked.

“The experience set me on a path to find out who the truly flexible employers are. Genuine flexibility is what makes these employers the best. And their prize? Their pick of the talent, as well as an engaged and fulfilled workforce.”

Molly Johnson-Jones, CEO, Flexa

“Don’t always expect something in return”

“My father always says: ‘We pay the musicians at the end of the ball.’ One of my strongest beliefs in life (and business) is that you can’t always do things expecting something in return. Helping out people, making introductions and connections when you feel people have similar or matching energies, is at the core of my business practice. And I found that very often, when you send good energy into the world, the world gives back. So even if something doesn’t seem like it’s going to pay off right away, wait until the end of the ball and perhaps it will.”

Florie-Anne Virgile, CEO, Myth-To-Measure

“Take quality time for yourself”

“Take quality time for yourself, for your work and for your family – quality over quantity will make you feel at your best. Learn what to say no to, personally and in business. If you’re thinking of changing roles or creating your own business, then do it now. Be clear on your goals, write a good business plan and build a strong support system. One day you’ll wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you have always wanted.”

Julia Kemp, CEO, Electric Car Organisation 

“You’re only as good as your team”

“Surround yourself with likeminded people. It’s a simple one but it makes the difference between success and failure when you’re setting up and running a business. It also makes the day-to-day more enjoyable and inspiring. It’s also important to remember that you’re only as good as your team.”

Sophie Attwood, managing director of Sophie Attwood Communications

“Act confident, even when you’re not”

“Even if you’re not confident, it’s essential to act as if you are. In turn, it can also lead to you actually feeling more confident in the long run. Not only can this help during the interview process as employees look for people who seem confident in themselves as people assume they must be confident in their field, but it also helps with things such as career progression.”

Riannon Palmer, Founder and Director, Lem-uhn

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