Career success can mean different things to different people. For some, it’s getting that C-suite title (and the paycheck that goes with it). Others strive for work-life balance or a role that lets them pursue a personal passion. Regardless of the path you choose, one thing usually remains constant: the desire to learn and grow, and ultimately succeed.
Unless you’re extremely lucky and the perfect job just falls in your lap, finding success will take some work—but it can be done. Here, three professionals share their top tips for moving up in your career, regardless of the industry you’re in.
Never Stop Networking
Often, the secret behind career success is not what you know, but who you know. While networking can seem intimidating, Bria Benjamin knows firsthand that it doesn’t have to be scary.
Benjamin started her career when she was accepted to 4A’s Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP) in college. After receiving her degree, she spent four years at an ad agency, where she climbed the ranks from intern to senior designer. Now a freelance designer and illustrator in Brooklyn, Benjamin has used her savvy networking skills to build her business. The secret? Focusing on creating lasting, authentic relationships.
“It’s just talking to people,” she explains. “Whether it’s lateral, peer relationships or seeking mentors who are older and more experienced. Think of networking as having conversations, and then it becomes less of a chore. These connections can turn into meaningful relationships as you progress in your career.”
And if you’re wondering, yes it is possible to successfully network remotely even during the pandemic.
Create a Digital Presence
In 2021, a strong digital presence is an integral part of any person’s success story. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 70% of employers look at a candidate’s social media to screen them before hiring. And according to Eliot Garcia Weisberg, a great personal website is just as important as work-friendly Instagram and Twitter feeds.
With over 10 years of experience in creative direction and production, Garcia Weisberg has been a freelancer, founded his own creative agency, and worked as a video production manager. And through it all, he has used his Squarespace website to showcase his biggest career accomplishments.
“It’s helped me in different ways throughout different stages of my career, which is one thing I love about Squarespace,” he says. “It’s allowed me to adapt my web presence based on what my needs are at the time.”
When Garcia Weisberg was freelancing, he filled his website with an array of clients, case studies, and projects to help him get clients and exposure. Now, as a creative director at Airbnb, he uses it to stay on top of industry trends, showcase his work, and remain relevant online.
“I’m in a very multi-disciplinary role now, and it can be hard to find a service that blends all of that in a way that feels elegant and seamless,” he says. “It’s been super simple on Squarespace to do things like embed videos from Vimeo or YouTube, for example.”
Garcia Weisberg also appreciates Squarespace’s selection of templates, and how easy it is to make changes to the look and feel of his site. “Transitioning from one template to the other—and importing my content over—can be done in a couple of clicks,” he says.
A career is a constant learning experience, even when you feel like you’ve made it to the top. That’s because there is always room for improvement. While constructive criticism is an inevitable part of anyone’s career, our brain’s negativity bias can trick us into thinking feedback is a bad thing.
“Feedback is about improving your work, not criticizing you as a person, as a designer, or whatever your role may be,” Benjamin says. “There are times when feedback is an opportunity for a conversation. How can this work be improved? How can you build on your existing ideas? And when you miss the mark, feedback helps you get closer to the goal.”
Instead of associating feedback with negativity, think of it as an investment in your growth and eventual professional success.
Stick to Your Values
Whether you’re switching jobs or taking the leap of faith to become your own boss, Garcia Weisberg says it’s important to understand your professional values—and commit to sticking with them as your career evolves.
“I’ve worked at companies both big and small, and they all have a set of core values,” he says. “But the one thing people often don’t talk about is that you can also have your own values.”
Identifying your values is just the first step. You also need to be able to recognize when your current position or company goes against them. “As soon as you’re putting them aside, compromising them, or challenging them, you will find yourself unhappy,” he says.
In fact, studies show people who are happier at work are more committed, driven, and willing to contribute beyond their job description. When your work is aligned with your personal beliefs, you’ll feel empowered to succeed.
Don’t Be Afraid to Change Careers
According to the United States Department of Labor, the average person changes their career three to seven times over the course of their professional lives. While pivoting can feel intimidating, it can also help you get from where you are to where you want to go.
Ximena Vengoechea first started her career in the art industry, thinking she would become a professor or museum curator. But her interests changed, and she pivoted to an eight-person startup, where she became fascinated by UX research. After holding UXR positions at major companies like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest, she added yet another job title to her growing resume: author. Most recently, Vengoechea penned Listen Like You Mean It, where she uses her experience to provide actionable tips for improving your listening skills.
While Vengoechea’s career is filled with plenty of twists and turns, embracing the change has allowed her to redefine success and create a career that showcases her skills.
“Don't be afraid to start over,” she says. “I'm grateful for every step of the way and very glad in hindsight that I never had the foresight to be intimidated about making a change. It takes work, but it is possible to switch gears no matter where you are in your career.”