Over the past 20 years, I’ve been lucky enough to receive career advice from a mentor who has helped foster my success in innumerable ways. This woman has worked in many different industries and roles throughout her life–from promotion director to image consultant, from HR executive to artist–but there is one job she has had consistently: teacher. As Mother’s Day approaches, I want to share some of the lessons my personal coach–a.k.a. Mom–has given me during the course of my life and which I now find myself repeating to my own staff and those whom I mentor. (My five-year-old daughter is still a bit young for career advice but I’m sure she’ll hear all of it as she gets older!)
1. Make a list, check it twice. When I was considering taking a job offer several years ago and wavering over the decision, my mother suggested I write a list of the things I loved and hated about the job I had at the time, as well as what was non-negotiable if I were to take a new one. It forced me to really think about my passion points, what was holding me back and what I would truly need in order to accept this offer. Even though it was for more money, stock options and–on paper–seemed like a good move, the cons outweighed the pros on my list and I turned it down.
2. Trust your gut. Even though there were a number of things that were attractive about the position I didn’t take, something was holding me back. A big part of that was the feeling that it was simply the wrong move for me. Mom is a big believer in the phrase, “When in doubt, don’t” and, in this case and many others, it has held up. Ten months after I rejected the job offer, I learned that the company had laid off the entire communications department, which I would have been running.
3. Mutual (dis)respect. We’ve all complained about a difficult coworker or client who was unkind or dismissive–and, Lord knows, I’ve had my share. My mother has often said to me, “These things are usually mutual.” Translation: If you don’t like or respect someone, they probably feel the same way about you. While I don’t believe that’s true in every case, most of the time it is. (Think about it.)
4. Never take an offer on the spot. Mom also told me that no matter how badly you want a job, always ask for time to think about it before accepting. Even a 24-hour period will allow you to go over the details, ask questions, negotiate if needed and make a clear-headed decision.
5. There’s (almost) always wiggle room. Lastly, even before my mother went into the HR and coaching field, she told me that it never hurts to ask for more–whether salary or other benefits like vacation or flex time–before signing on the dotted line for a new job (or even during a review once you already have one). It’s rare that a company will offer you the maximum of what they have to give because most HR professionals expect that candidates will want to negotiate and, for the right person, they need to be willing to have some flexibility. When I got my first job offer at 21 for $22,000 and I asked for $25,000, I was petrified. But, guess what? They agreed to $24,000–and that extra two grand a year really helped me squeak by living in New York City (how I survived even on that amount is amazing to me).
Through these words of wisdom and many others I’ve heard over the years, I’ve been able to work my way up the ladder from entry-level to executive–and, while I certainly worked hard to get here, I could not have done so without Mom to support and encourage me along the way. Here are five more great career tips from my mom–and Happy Mother’s Day to her and all the other mothers out there who have been their children’s best mentors.
This article was written by Jessica Kleiman from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.