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Firm handshake. Go where the money is. Don’t criticize the person who signs your paycheck. Follow up with a thank-you note. Sure, these classic career tips can be helpful, but they’re also clichés. So Life Reimagined asked several successful professionals across regions and industries for the best—and most candid—job advice they’ve ever received.
“Ninety percent of the time, when people disagree with you, they just want you to hear what they have to say. Repeat everything they say back to them, and there’s a good chance they’ll accept your terms. I have seen this happen, and it blew my mind.”—Hong Kong professor shared one of his best his career advice.
“There are only three things that matter in life: Where you live, who you marry, and how many kids you have. Note: Job is not on the list.”—Boston marketer.
“Don't turn down a job until you’ve been offered it.”—Kentucky scientist
“A job search is never over until your butt is in that new chair. You can get an offer and have it fall through.”—Boston career advisor
"Whenever you think you are nothing but a phony, remember: We all think we’re phonies at some point.”—New York attorney
“I’m not sure if this was the best job advice I’ve ever received, but it’s one of those weird and surprisingly correct things I’ve used again and again: When I was 20, my bookstore manager told us that when we were working cash registers, it was important to maintain the ‘theatrics of efficiency.’ There would be times when we would need to be waiting for a manager or something, but no one in line should ever see us just standing there or making small talk because the customer's overall impression of the place depended on their takeaway that you were doing everything you could to help them. I find that's very true not just in customer service but in all kinds of business interaction. Work as hard as you can, of course, but also pay attention to the way you’re communicating that work to others.”—Washington, D.C. book agent
“Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Have the guts to have a difficult conversation. The issues I see in most organizations come from people’s avoidance of having a hard conversation. Are they easy? No. Are they fun? Heck no. Are they necessary and do they make a difference? Oh, yes.”—Providence arts marketing consultant
“When I was younger, I would stress out because I had to work much harder than my friends in college to get good grades, while some of them got higher grades easily. But my mother had always told me that it was much more important to be persistent and to fight your way to what you want—because the people who were super-talented but didn't have any desire to work hard would drop by the wayside. It turned out to be true.”—Connecticut journalist